Reviewing Maple Leafs Deadline Deal
Eric Fehr has a new home in Toronto after the trade deadline (Photo by Bruce Bennett via Getty Images)
In the midst of a sleeper of a trade deadline, the Toronto Maple Leafs made one minor move. Toronto acquired recently waived Eric Fehr, depth defenseman Steve Oleksy and a 4th round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft for scarcely used defenseman Frank Corrado. Fehr carries a $2 million cap hit through next year and figures to the team on the ongoing West Coast road trip, while Oleksy figures to spend all of his time with the Toronto Marlies. The 4th rounder becomes the seventh draft pick the Leafs have for this year’s draft.
Following the acquisition, Fehr will not be in the lineup tonight versus Los Angeles.
The biggest question surrounding the Fehr deal was a simple one: why? The Leafs had just traded for Brian Boyle, which I highlighted here (sorry for the shameless plug), to upgrade their center position on the 4th line, which is exactly what Fehr is, a 4th liner. The only logical place for him is either as the 12th or 13th forward. He will essentially be on the bottom line with Boyle and Matt Martin or he’ll be in the press box, in favor of Nikita Soshnikov or Josh Leivo.
This trade is a bizarre one because Soshnikov and Leivo lose playing time. The two of them have played relatively well in the limited minutes they’ve been giving and now their minutes get limited even further. Both players are a lot more skilled than Fehr and have far better possession numbers than the Capitals draft pick has. Fehr has the eighth worst CF% at 42.8% among forwards with 400 minutes and the second worst CF% REL TM at -9.8. He gets crushed out there.
Sure, those numbers won’t look good when he starts 52.8% of his faceoffs in the defensive zone, but those are on Ben Smith level bad, a center many Leafs’ fans were calling to be benched. However, Fehr is a decent penalty killer and as a faceoff man. But, I look at Fehr’s numbers and I see a slightly better, but more expensive, version of Ben Smith.
Fehr also is signed until after the 2017-18 season, meaning they have him for one more season after this one. What is weird is that he probably doesn’t figure as an NHLer next year. He’ll most likely join Oleksy in the AHL and take up two roster spots that a prospect could have instead. It just doesn’t seem like this trade any positive value at all.
The move also sent out only one contract, while bringing in two. That puts the leafs up for the maximum of 50 contracts allowed for a team. That takes away a ton of flexibility for the remainder of the season.
The expansion draft argument seems a bit lazy as well. People who were arguing that he could be used as bait, but the Leafs don’t have to worry that much about the expansion draft. I can’t see him factoring into that since no one would be a taker for him and isn’t an upgrade for most players who will be exposed.
The only thing that was gained was the 4th rounder from Pittsburgh. The only reason that makes sense is that since their 3rd round pick is gone, and their 5th rounder is conditional, they wanted to add a middle round pick and have seven picks. However, if that’s the reason that this trade was done, it’s extremely poor rationale.
In essence, the Leafs front office (with a little help from Mike Babcock, I’m sure) took on Fehr and his contract just to get a 4th rounder. This seems like a move Babcock would want to add that playoff experience. It just doesn’t appear likely that Fehr can do anything to help them come playoff time, though.
This was a peculiar deal and one that, while pretty insignificant, doesn’t seem to be logical. I think if they wanted a depth forward the Leafs could’ve have PA Parenteau come back for the 6th rounder he went for, or even claimed a guy like Teemu Pulkkinen. Overall, this trade leaves a bad taste in a lot of fan’s mouths and really didn’t make much sense.