Long before Josh Ho-Sang, years before Alex Galchenyuk, I developed a problem. It is the firm belief that any highly touted prospect or struggling veteran that couldn’t find their footing with their current organization should be acquired by the Leafs on the cheap, and it would be worth seeing if Toronto could turn them around.
As we saw with Nikita Gusev and plenty of others before him, it’s not always the case, but this remains a market that I will continue to bang the drum for, and will feel vindicated as long as I’m right 51% of the time, or when it works out, it really works out well.
That’s why I have a mild obsession with Dylan Strome. Many will remember Dylan Strome as one of the potential targets in the 2015 draft, and there was plenty of debate over whether Marner, Strome, Hanifin, or (LOL) Crouse was the best option for the Leafs. For the record I was on Team Barzal, but everyone in the Marner camp is looking pretty smart as well. Score one for Mark Hunter, I guess.
Anyway, the fact that Strome was taken by the Coyotes just before the Leafs saved them the rollercoaster which has been Strome’s career. Or at least up until now…
The Chicago Blackhawks are open to moving center Dylan Strome, who appears to be the odd-man out in Jeremy Colliton‘s opening night lineup in Colorado. Strome skated as an extra in Tuesday’s practice and was trending toward a healthy scratch against the Avs.
Strome, 24, has one year remaining on his deal at $3 million before becoming a restricted free agent. Last season, Strome collected nine goals and eight assists for 17 points. His first season in Chicago – three years ago now – Strome was nearly a point-per-game player with 51 in 58 games, including 17 goals.
Blackhawks don’t seem to be in a rush on moving him, but having a $3M center in your pressbox is less than ideal, and despite the fact that Strome has already been traded once in his career, the Hawks can probably get some value for him if they act fast and don’t completely Kyle Turris his career.
I’ve made my case for Strome before…
I think the upside is hard to ignore when your team that needs to maximize center depth, and moreso than any other options the Leafs presently have, he is capable of being relief on the top two lines during injuries to Matthews or Tavares. His familiarity with Marner is also a plus, and he fits in the core age of the Leafs locker room. He’s potentially a fit.
What is not a fit is his $3M contract. That means either saying goodbye to Alex Kerfoot, which Kyle Dubas has shown a reluctance to do, and we don’t necessarily know if Chicago wants, or a package that would include players like Engvall and Dermott and would likely require a player being demoted, again, we don’t know if Toronto or Chicago have any interest in this.
Still Strome is an interesting player to keep an eye on. If he remains a Hawk perhaps there will be an opportunity later in the year that makes sense or salary can be retained in a deal, or who knows. I standby Strome as a solid reclamation project.
Reclamation Idea #2: Vitali Kravtsov
Sources say Kravtsov’s new agent, Dan Milstein, has been given permission by the Rangers to seek a fresh start with another franchise. Kravtsov changed agents over the summer, likely with this exact scenario in mind – as it was no secret that he has little interest in playing in the AHL.
Some Leafs fans will recognize the name Dan Milstein, as he is the agent who represents Ilya Mikheyev, Rodion Amirov, Kirill Semyonov, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Braden Kressler, and Kurtis Gabriel. Additionally former Leafs Alex Barabanov, Nikita Zaitsev, and Yegor Korshkov. I think we can safely say that Milstein has a relationship with the Leafs, and if he’s looking for opportunities for his client, he might go with a team that has been very comfortable with giving Russian players a chance for meaningful roles in their organization.
Kravtsov has a lot of Kulemin like tendencies that should appeal to Leafs fans. He plays a hard game on the wing, and uses his frame well to create offensive opportunities. With a little work it seems like he’d quickly be a staple in the top nine, and realistically could be in the top six in the near future.
That said, is he truly a need for the Leafs? No, probably not. Are the Rangers still going to want someone of value for him? Absolutely. Is it worth kicking tires on him anyway? You bet.
Kravtsov is young, cheap, and talented. He might still be raw in that talent, but he can figure it out at the NHL level, and with 82 games to work with he could be a fit. The Leafs want to be a harder to play against team without sacrificing skill, and generally if you want to add a player who can do that, you’re going to be paying a premium. If you can get a slight discount on that because a player is publicly wanting out of his current situation, it might be worth capitalizing on that.
A farewell to Adam Brooks
As I close out this post, I will say that we probably shouldn’t write off Brooks’ time with the Leafs being completely over just yet. There is a very good chance that Montreal could be a temporary stop for Adam, and if he finds himself waived again, I’d assume Toronto would claim him and take advantage of the fact that he could go straight to the Marlies in that situation. It’s also entirely possible that another team will also try to take a chance on him, and Brooks might not have much of a home address this season.
Given that the Leafs didn’t seem to want to lose him, and viewed the approach they took as the best shot at keeping him, I’d say keep an eye on his waivers situation in the next few weeks.
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