“There are teams who think that Toronto has considered, ‘Do we get Meier for this run and then sort it out later?,'” reports Elliotte Friedman

In the latest episode of the 32 thought podcastElliotte Friedman threw the cat under the doves with a report from a source suggesting Kyle Dubas has been eyeing the possibility of an aggressive move for San Jose star winger Timo Meier.

Dubas ruled out the idea of ​​deferring first-round picks or top prospects for a lease in yesterday’s media availability, but Meier’s pending RFA status with a qualifying $10 million offer puts him in murkier territory where he’s neither rented yet safe is to be a perennial favorite in Toronto (given the Leafs’ cap structure of four marquee forwards, three of which will require a raise in the next few seasons). Meier’s contract status opens up some interesting possibilities, knowing the Leafs would own his rights beyond the end of the season, Friedman notes:

Friedman: I think the Devils said to the Sharks, “Before you do anything about Meier, make sure we do it make one last try.” This is currently on everyone’s lips in the league.

I think they have competition. Especially in talks on Thursday, people think that after Meier there’s a bunch of eastern teams – a group of them and maybe a smaller group – one or two – western teams.

What everyone is thinking about here: who is in the process of signing Meier and who is in the process of hiring Meier? It’s complex. As everyone knows, Meier has a qualifying offer of $10 million next year if you don’t sign him long-term.

People wonder what New Jersey is thinking here. One guy said to me that there are teams out there that think Toronto has at least considered, ‘Do we bring Meier on this run and then sort that out later?’ Basically put the decision on summer and say, ‘In Order. We’ll bring him in. We’ll see how it goes. We’ll see who has a good playoff and who doesn’t, and we’ll find out in June.”

I don’t know if Toronto is thinking about it, but I’d at least bet, knowing the Dubas mindset, he’s at least thought about the idea.

Here’s the flaw in that theory: Dubas had a media availability on Thursday, repeating what many of us believe: he’s not trading his best prospects and picks for a rental. Acting for Meier doesn’t mean he’s a renter, but in Toronto it doesn’t mean he’s a long-term guy either. It’s like you’re in purgatory.

The only option you consider when you’re Toronto: If you can’t keep it, at least give it up for what you traded.

I’m quoting Doug MacLean: I don’t know if it’s true, but I’m just telling you what I’ve heard. This one person told me that there are teams that think Toronto has at least considered it.

It’s certainly a tempting thought from the Leafs’ perspective: having paid to acquire Meier at deadline, can they reasonably expect to get back a package of similar value if they can’t make Meier work as a long-term cap and are committed forced to trade his rights in the summer? They’d have added a true offensive producer and playmaker for that upcoming playoff run at potentially minimal — or at least tasty — net worth costs.

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At the very least, it seems fitting for Dubas to explore this avenue as seriously as possible. Whether he’s willing to bet a package of Matthew Knie’s plus-plus on the hypothesis that he can recoup enough value over the summer to justify a large investment in futures is really the big question. There’s no doubt that Meier is a cut above the other options as a legitimate needle mover in a position where the leaves are needed on the left wing, but there’s potentially plenty of competition fueling the bidding war at this upcoming date Playoffs versus summer market uncertainty.

Friedman: Toronto has good prospects and they have some tips. They don’t have much capital, but they have something. Everyone knows what we’re talking about here: We’re talking about Knies. We are talking about Topi Niemela. We are talking about a high selection. Toronto has some of that capital, but not much of it.

There are two reasons people think Toronto is considering this. Number one is because Kyle Dubas is in his senior year. I don’t buy this. I don’t think he’s doing anything stupid that might spoil his resume for a long time. Second, Toronto has a really good team. The way that’s set up, they’re going to play Tampa. It’s a night scenario for the Maple Leafs just because of who they’ve got. As a few people have said to me, “You take your shot with a really good team.” They have a good team.

I shared this theory with a few other teams about Toronto and they said it was a good theory and they wonder if Winnipeg would consider doing the same. You have a good team. I’ve been wondering if they’ll dig into the JVR talk more, but when I said Toronto — and the fact that Kevin Cheveldayoff was in Tampa for Tampa-San Jose the other day — I said to a couple of teams, “I’m wondering whether there is a chance Winnipeg is considering the same.”

Friedman’s other interesting nugget regarding Meier was his suggestion that Meier is willing to sit down and secure a decent long-term deal with a team he sees as contenders for years to come. Of course, with a $10 million QO in his back pocket, there’s a chance Meier will dish out significant Discounts on this number on a long-term contract are quite unlikely.

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The Leafs will have some cap flexibility in the 2023 offseason, but they have hypothetical extensions on the books for William Nylander and Auston Matthews if they project the 2024-25 cap picture, with Mitch Marner following a year later.

Friedman: Only thing I want to say: there certainly seems to be a feeling he’s willing to be sensible if he thinks a legitimate contender wants to sign him long-term. It won’t be cheap – it’s still a big contract – but it won’t cost eleventy billion dollars. He’s ready to watch it.

A few other tidbits from Friedman on other Leaf-related matters:

Friedman on Vladislav Gavrikov’s suitors – among them Leafs

Friedman: Timmins [new contract] is one that is easy for them to handle. He was a great bet when they made the deal and I think the contract is a great bet.

In many ways, they can’t get a lot of their long-term deals done until they know what Matthew’s number is going to be like. You’ll be careful I guess until that happens. Also, what happens in the playoffs could dictate many of their decisions.

Gavrikov’s Market – I think it’s LA if they don’t get Chychrun, Boston, Toronto, Edmonton. Those are the teams I think are probably around Gavrikov. I think there are a few more because he’s shown some signs that he’s willing to sign for some term if he thinks you’re a contender.

I think Toronto is in that group, but the other thing is I really think Toronto is looking ahead. I think they’re trying to find another striker out there – someone who they think can make a difference for them.

How high can Dubas go as a striker here? I think they’re trying to figure that out too.

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