The scorched Earth approach began with the trade of Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators. That then led to a list of players moving to greener pastures featuring Shawn Matthias, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, Daniel Winnik, and James Reimer.
These moves just further proved that the Leafs management team is still dedicated to the future of the franchise.
The Leafs have now amassed a whopping total of 12 picks in the 2016 NHL draft, and a total of 28 over the next three years.
This teardown has also meant that the future stars of the franchise now have a chance to show just what they have. On Monday, Feb. 29, the team recalled a large number of members of the Toronto Marlies including Toronto’s golden boy and former first rounder William Nylander, as well as Kasperi Kapanen, Nikita Soshnikov, Zach Hyman and recently acquired Ben Smith.
The Leafs are also currently poised to add to their prospect list with one of the top five players in the 2016 draft. As of press time, the Leafs were sitting in last place in the standings. With the mass exodus, it seems Toronto has dedicated themselves to falling down the standings and at least trying to win the right to choose American Auston Matthews.
Funny thing about this season though is that fans have become so invested in the teardown plan that the fact that P. A. Parenteau was not dealt by the deadline came as a large surprise. In the days leading up to the deadline, fans kept looking for signs that Parenteau would be moved. When he left practice early because of “soreness” fans briefly thought he had been traded. When he left the Leafs game against Montreal early, again there was speculation. But nothing happened.
With the cap space that was moved during the last few weeks, Toronto could also potentially take a run at Tampa Bay’s superstar forward Steven Stamkos when or if he hits the free agent market on July 1.
The future of the team is slowing becoming clearer and brighter days may be closer than fans first expected. Hold on Leafs fans, the best is yet to come.