Brother Banter – Round 6

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By: Adam and Rossy Pasternak

Welcome to the 6ixth instalment of “Brother Banter” with the brothers behind SportsNak, Adam and Rossy Pasternak. This week, the boys argue many different topics in sports this week. Keep checking in every week for new editions of “Brother Banter”,  and be sure to let us know what you think in the “Comments” section below the article!

Rossy: It’s been a while since we’ve done this, so we have a lot to cover this time around. The NBA trade deadline has come and gone, with very little action of significance. The Leafs have started their teardown with the trades of Dion Phaneuf, Shawn Matthias, Nick Spaling, Roman Polak and James Reimer. Spring training has begun, and there is so much hype going into this season.

Lets start with the NBA trade deadline. One trade that grabbed my attention- which was admittedly made a few days before the deadline – was Tobias Harris to Detroit. It seems curious to me that the Magic would give up on a player they signed to a 4-year, $64M deal just this past summer. They didn’t get much in return other than cap space this offseason, which really is not that valuable since everyone will have cap space this summer. This trade does, however, free up playing time for dunk-contest champion Aaron Gordon, which is an exciting opportunity for the young athletic big-man. Gordon reminds me of watching Blake Griffen at Oklahoma, a player who was so athletic that he dominated the action, but had a raw game outside of that athleticism. Gordon of course doesn’t dominate in the NBA like Blake, but if he develops his jump shot, he has a chance to become a player close to Blake’s level.

For Detroit, although they have struggled since the trade, this was a huge win. Stan Van Gundy managed to get Harris, a player with lots of talent and potential to grow, in exchange purely for cap space. Not giving up a first round pick in the deal is huge for the Pistons. Harris is a good fit for the club, as he can create down low or off the dribble, adding versatility to the offence. Most importantly however, the Pistons landed Harris for $16M per year, which is much less than players of his calibre will be making in free agency. By spending the money on Harris now, the Pistons make sure that they won’t be involved in a bidding war this summer and end up paying more for a player who does less.

Adam: I agree that the Pistons stole Harris away from Orlando, but the trade that caught my attention the most was Jeff Green going from the Grizzlies to the Clippers. He reunites with Doc and Paul Pierce and in my opinion, could be the missing piece they’ve been looking for all year. Once everyone is back in the lineup, I think they will be really hard to defend. They have depth at every position and as long as no one punches anymore trainers, the Clippers should go far in this years playoffs.

Something that did irritate me though, was that the Raptors didn’t make any moves. They could have really used improvements at PF and SF but chose to stand pat. Do you think that doing nothing at the deadline will haunt them?

Rossy: I actually agree with you for once. I do think that Green will be an integral piece for the Clippers, win or lose. Green could be that missing piece, as the Clippers have never had a small forward with his talent. Unfortunately, Green has also been proved to be inconsistent, and unable to be relied upon. The Clippers will only go as far as CP3 and Blake take them, but having players to work with is huge for them. I don’t think that Green was worth the 1st round pick used to obtain him, considering how good the Clippers competition is. It seems like this trade was irrelevant in the grand scheme of things due to the fact that there is no way the Clippers get by the Warriors or Spurs in a 7 game series. Sending a first round pick – something the Clippers don’t have many of – away for a role player that may win you an extra game or two does not seem like a smart move to me. Under different circumstances, I would be applauding Doc for this trade, but we live in Steph Curry’s world, and trying to deny that will only make for a bleaker future.

As for the Raptors, I actually agree with their deadline strategy. Patrick Patterson would have been the trade bait in most deals for any high-profile, big-name addition, and I personally don’t think that there were any significant upgrades on the market that would validate trading him away. He has proven he is capable of guarding on the perimeter, as he guarded LeBron James pretty well in their game against Cleveland. He also has picked it up on offence and the boards, showing some new-found aggressiveness. Newly signed Jason Thompson will also add some defensive tenacity and offensive creativity to the team. Although he was rarely used in Golden State, Thompson is actually a pretty decent player, and can be used to give Patterson some additional rest leading up to the deadline. Also, by going the buyout-player route, the Raptors were able to keep their many picks in the next two drafts, which can be used to add to the young core of the team, or to package and trade (or sign and trade) for a third star like Blake Griffen, Al Horford, or (pipe-dream) DeMarcus Cousins. Even if they don’t trade for another star, and use the picks themselves, Masai Ujiri has kept the Raptors in a great position to win now, and in the future.

Talking about trades, and about Toronto, the Maple Leafs have been ridiculously busy in the last week or so. Off the roster are Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, Shawn Matthias, James Reimer, Daniel Winnik, and more trades are to be expected. What do you think of these moves so far, Adam?

Adam: Well now that the deadline is essentially over, the move that surprised me most was that P.A Parenteau is still a Leaf. I know Babcock loves him and that it was rumoured that he could re-sign even after a trade – but he’s having a career year, and his value is at its highest. One has to wonder if last night’s injury played a role in him still being in Toronto. The trade I think made most impact was Eric Staal to the Rangers. With the center position now deeper than it has ever been in New York, the Rangers are poised to make a run in the season’s last few months and as well in the playoffs. Eric Staal brings experience and great talent, while uniting him with his brother Marc. The situation could not seem any better, but it will be interesting to see how big a difference he makes to the Rangers. While I enjoy this deal for the Rangers, I don’t necessarily agree with the deal from Carolina’s perspective. They got decent value, but at the same time traded away their captain and leader all while being 4 points out of a playoff spot. GM Ron Francis has basically told his team by making this trade, that they aren’t good enough to compete for that last playoff spot. If I was a player on that team, that would not make me feel very good. It seems that Carolina has been essentially rebuilding since their Stanley Cup win against Edmonton many years ago. It will be interesting to see what direction they go in this time.

Another deal that stuck out to me, was the trade between the Coyotes and Avalanche. Michael Boedker was traded to Colorado for Alex Tanguay and a couple of prospects. To me, this deal completely changes the Avs and where they sit amongst the other Western Conference teams. Rossy, do you think this deal makes the Avs a threat in the West?

Rossy: Firstly, I like the Staal trade for both of the teams. Carolina is a team that was over-performing, and has started to level off in the past few weeks. New York is a team that, with King Henrik aging, sees its window to win the Cup closing, and took full advantage of a situation where the other team had nearly no leverage. Carolina managed to get good value in the trade, which is amazing considering that it is pretty publicly known that Eric wants to play with his brothers, who are in Carolina and New York. Because of that information, Ron Francis was limited to who he could talk to and what he could get, and he did a good job of maximizing the value. He also has a chance to re-sign Eric in the offseason, as the Rangers have limited cap space.

Secondly, I do love the trades for Colorado. They got even more loaded up front, adding Boedker to a top-6 that includes Mackinnon, Landeskog, Duchene, and Iginla. And then they add to their weakness on D with Eric Gelinas, a good player who struggled to crack the lineup on the loaded Devils back-end. Although both of these trades, in my opinion, solidify the Avs’ chances at making the playoffs, they will draw either the Kings, Ducks, Blackhawks, or Stars in the first round. With the defence corps Colorado has, I don’t think they stand a chance getting out of the first round in this seasons playoffs. Colorado gave up a couple of good prospects for Boedker, and unless they re-sign him, I don’t see how he could help enough to justify it. If the Avalanche were closer to being a contender to win the Stanley Cup, I would say this trade is a home run for them, but since Boedker will probably only move their pick in this years draft down a few slots, I don’t like it.

For a more in-depth look at the effect of the deals made in the past few days, look out for our Trade Deadline Wrap-Up article coming out soon.

Adam: I agree, the rental move are risky, but if he re-signs with the Avalanche – they will be very dangerous in for years to come. But enough about the trade deadline – let’s get into something a little more specific. What about those Leaf’s youngsters who made their debuts last night? Zach Hyman looked like our best forward out there at times, and Nylander and Kapanen flashed their quickness and skill more then a few times as well. It seems like the Leafs are headed in the right direction, but I am interested to see how they move going forward. It really all depends on where they get to draft, and it seems like they will get a top pick this year. With their recently added cap space, it will also be interesting to see if they go out and sign any top tier free agents (aka Steven Stamkos). If these young studs have a productive summer, and if Marner can have a good enough camp to join them next year – with the addition of a top 5 pick in this coming draft, the Leafs could field a team of future NHL stars. It really gets me excited thinking about it. But as I’ve learned over the years, usually everything the Leafs touch turns to crap, so only time will tell if these are all the right moves.

What are your thoughts on the direction the Leafs are headed in – should we have called up all these young guys in the midst of a dominating season for the Marlies? How long should they stay in the NHL? Are these four guys the future of the Leafs?

Rossy: I love the direction the Leafs are headed. The plan that Brendan Shanahan and Lou have put in place is the right plan, and the Leafs are on the right track. There are a couple of big decisions coming up, such as what to do with Mitch Marner. Marner is too young to play with the Marlies, but is, in my opinion, not ready for the NHL. Marner can dazzle on offence, but the defensive side of his game scares me. As we saw in the World Juniors, Marner can be almost invisible if he isn’t controlling the play offensively. I think that the Leafs should continue to be patient with their top prospect, but where do they send him? Something I would consider if I was the Leafs is sending him overseas. I know it is highly unlikely, but I think it would be the best option. Marner is too good for the OHL, so why not have him play professionally. I would send him to play with the ZSC Lions in the Swiss A league, which is the team that Auston Matthews is currently on. Coach Marc Crawford is phenomenal at working with young players and would be a great aid to Marner’s development. It would prepare him perfectly for the rigours of an NHL season. Again, this is a very unlikely scenario, but to me, it makes perfect sense.

Concerning Nylander, Kapenen, Soshnikov, and Hyman, I think that they will play the rest of the NHL season with the Leafs. Toronto isn’t worried about the 10-game mark, which signifies a year off of the entry level contract. Instead, Toronto would be worried about them playing 40 games, which moves them a year closer to unrestricted free-agency. Since there is less than 40 games left for the Leafs, that will not be a problem. The plan seems to be to keep the young guys up for the remainder of the season, and then send them back to the Marlies for the AHL playoffs.

The future is looking bright in Toronto because of their great prospect pool, and the performance of those four young players in their debuts. I’m excited to see what else they have in store for the rest of the season, and beyond. It will be interesting to see how the do tonight against first place Washington Capitals.

Adam: The future definitely looks bright. But now I want to move on to a different subject in hockey – the World Cup of Hockey! All of the teams are being announced throughout the day today and by puck drop of the Leafs game tonight, we should know all the preliminary rosters. A noticeable absence from the Czech team is the ageless wonder, Jaromir Jagr. Although the official rosters don’t have to be set just yet, it seems that it may be possible Jagr has chosen to sit this one out. Think about it – he’s 44 years old and with the Panthers poised to make a decent run in this year’s playoffs, he might need the extra two weeks of rest before entering yet another gruelling 82 game NHL season. It’s going to be interesting to see what Canada’s roster will look like, but I am most excited about Team Europe and Team North America. Will Auston Matthews pull an Eric Lindros and make Team North America? Only time will tell.

My last question for you Rossy is this – did you see Rich Eisen break his own 40 yard dash time a few days ago? For a sports reporter running in a suit, he isn’t bad!

Rossy: Rich Eisen is a freak-of-nature athlete who cannot be stopped!

Thank’s for tuning into Round 6 of Brother Banter. Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

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