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Harvesting Syrup: Can the Wild Fleece the Leafs?

Toronto has a not-very-good team. They are trying to improve, and resorting to desperate measures to do so.

Claus Andersen

One week ago today, #LeafNation went a little berserk. The source of their ire? A tween from one Nick Kypreos. Kypreos is a former Stanley and Calder Cup winner, and has been an analyst for SportsNet since 1997.

How did Kypreos Bring Da Ruckus?

This tweet set off a leaf-splosion:

That means that James Van Riemsdyk, Nazem Kadri, Mason Raymond, Joffrey Lupul, Nikolai Kulemin, and James Reimer are all being "actively shopped" by the Toronto Maple Leafs

Of those, the Wild should be interested in van Riemsdyk, Mason Raymond, Lupul, and possibly Reimer. While none of these players are superstars, they all show scoring ability to some extent, as well as good possession statistics- except for Reimer. We'll get to him later. With higher quality teammates, any of those players could, potentially, make the Wild better.

If you are like me, you are saying "Hold it, hold it. Who is this Kypreos guy and can we trust him?" and that is a very good question. Kypreos, by the end of his career, was a bit of a journeyman of the league. He did spend time in Toronto, though it was only 1.5-ish seasons. He may well have 'ins' into the organization, and this could be legitimate... or it could be complete baloney (like the Leaf's defense).

Let's also be clear about these players: they are not and will not be 'saviors' for the Wild. They aren't the big-name, splashy guys, and it would be wildly unfair to compare them that way. Nor are they schmucks; they show potential and ability, and they have produced consistently.

What is appealing about this?

If the Wild for some reason cannot acquire one of their primary trade targets or free-agent acquisition targets, these are players that they might take a flyer on. They have potential, and, because of Toronto's situation, could be had at a bargain.

If it is true that Toronto is actively shopping essentially their entire roster, they are going to want a lot of youngish developing players. These are exactly the kind of players the Wild can afford to move if they are in "win-now" mode (which they really should be if they aren't).

What is promising about these players (besides Reimer) is that they have all posted more than 1 point/60 minutes of play, with Riemsdyk posting 1.86 at 5v5 Close, and 2.21 in all situations. Lupul also produces over 2 (2.07) in all situations. Points and goals are what the Wild need, and these players have consistently produced them on a sub-par team.

Finally, the fact that Toronto is (apparently) looking to rebuild means the Wild may be able to get them on the cheap. Whether that means retained salary, favorable trade bargains, or another form of compensation, these players could be an interesting fallback for the Wild should their primary targets fall through. For that matter, Riemsdyk makes an interesting primary target.

Goalies, Goalies, Everywhere, but Not a Shot to Save

As has been covered over and over again, the Wild's goalie situation is a mess. There are no good solutions. Ideally, Harding starts with Backstrom backing him up, but the likelihood of that happening is not high. Rather than forcing Kuemper to play backup to Backstrom, an interesting player to try out might be James Reimer. I won't cover Reimer too much, as that possibility has already been covered. Suffice to say, Reimer is intriguing at worst.

All in all, there are probably better options out there than these Leafs. However, if the Wild miss on those better options, or if the price is right, some of these players show the kind of ability and promise that could make the Wild better.