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Rumour: Caps’ Carlson to join the Leafs this summer?

Leafs insider James Mirtle investigates the latest hot rumour in Leafs Nation.

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It’s no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs have been seeking a high-end defenceman to join their blue line the past two seasons. The Leafs have been seemingly tied to every available defenceman on the trade and free-agent market the past 18 months including Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan McDonagh, Mike Green and Erik Gudbranson, yet have failed to bring in anyone significant via trade or free-agency. Well, that may all change this offseason.

According to Leafs insider James Mirtle of The Athletic, the team would be smart to target Washington Capitals defenceman John Carlson on the free-agent market this upcoming offseason. In his latest Mailbag column, Mirtle takes a look at the likelihood of the Leafs scoring the 28 year old offensive defenceman this upcoming offseason. Put bluntly, Mirtle claims, “Carlson absolutely makes sense for the Leafs.”

And really… what’s not to like? The offensive dynamo leads all NHL defencemen in scoring this season with a remarkable 15 goals and 64 points in 76 games. He’s a right-shooting, puck moving, PP quarterback in the prime of his career. In other words: he’s everything the Leafs have been looking for the past two seasons. But the real question is, what’s he going to cost?

Here’s Mirtle’s take:

There's no question Carlson will be costly. You're looking at $7-million minimum if he goes to free agency. Perhaps even closer to Brent Burns' $8-million cap hit, given his career year and the dearth of other RD available. But I would rather have Carlson at that number than same-aged Jake Gardiner at six (or whatever his next deal is) and on the left side, where you've got Travis Dermott and Andreas Borgman coming.

Good point. Carlson might be expensive, but if the Leafs can add him for $7-$8 million they can then afford to trade or walk away from Jake Gardiner… something that MANY Leafs fans would be happy with. 

Whatever happens this offseason with Carlson remains to be seen, but if he does elect to test the open market you can bet that Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello will be one of the first to extend an offer. 

What’s your take? Should the Leafs take a run at John Carlson this upcoming offseason? Even if it means that they’re forced to trade Gardiner? Lots to consider here…

Report: NHL changes league rules for Leafs’ Komarov

According to a report from Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the NHL has made a special rule exemption for Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov. Stick with us here, it’s a little confusing but will make sense in the end.

First, go back in time. All the way back to the start of the 2017-18 season. Back to the preseason in fact, where Komarov was assessed a two minute minor for “illegal equipment” due to the way he wears his visor on his helmet.

Check it out:

Remember that? Well… clearly things have changed, as Komarov continues to wear his visor up high, yet hasn’t been called for the infraction again. 

Hey, at least Uncle Leo has a sense of humour about things:

Back to the matter at hand, though. Friedman reported today in his weekly 31 Thoughts column that Komarov, along with Detroit Red Wings defenceman Niklas Kronwall and Arizona Coyotes defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson have all been granted league exemptions given that they joined the NHL prior the the mandatory visor rule for players following 2013-14 season.

Here’s the official word from Friedman, himself:

One of the oddest stories of the year was the early-season visor crackdown and what happened to it. Toronto’s Leo Komarov was practically incarcerated. Things changed when Detroit’s Niklas Kronwall returned from injury a week into the season, and, suddenly realizing what was up, objected. Rather than battling a grievance, the league gave exemptions to Komarov, Kronwall and Arizona’s Niklas Hjalmarsson. (All three could have refused to wear one, since they were in the NHL prior to 2013–14.)

Interesting. So, because he’s grandfathered in, Komarov can wear his visor however he darn well pleases. Good to know. For what it’s worth, Komarov experimented with going visor-less but felt he wasn’t as protected as well as he was previously. While it may not make any sense, any hockey player will tell you that the best piece of equipment is the equipment that you’re most comfortable performing in. Kudos to the NHL for recognizing this and allowing Komarov to continue as he has his entire career. After all, he’s not hurting anyone aside from himself.