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Maple Leafs Might Flip First-Round Pick From Kapanen Trade

Kyle Dubas said it was important the Maple Leafs gain flexibility in the trade on Tuesday and that the team could flip the first-round pick.

After making a trade to clear salary cap space and getting back a first-round draft pick that the Toronto Maple Leafs gave up in a previous transaction, general manager Kyle Dubas said on Tuesday, “We are open to keeping the pick, but in the spot that we are in with our team right now, we are also open to moving it if the right deal came along for someone that could help us now.”

That may come as a relief to some Maple Leafs fans who looked at Tuesday’s trade as a failure. Because the team gave up the best player in the deal and didn’t address their seemingly biggest need — a stud defenseman — many argue the trade was an overall waste of a valued asset.

It was unlikely Kapanen was going to land that blueliner the Maple Leafs so badly need. But a first-rounder as part of another package might. Therefore, it can be argued the first-round pick holds better value.

Why That Pick Is So Valuable

Dubas may be able to package his No. 15 pick that he acquired from Pittsburgh. In fact, the pick potentially holds a lot of value on the open market and so much so, no other team was willing to move a first-round pick for Kapanen.

Teams like New Jersey, Nashville, Anaheim, Minnesota, Chicago, Edmonton, Montreal, and Carolina all decided moving a first-rounder in a deep draft was unwise. Dubas only moved on to Pittsburgh because they were willing to make the deal.

When asked if he was going to continue to try and improve the blue line, Dubas said, “Certainly, I don’t think this is going to be it for us as we go along.” He added:

The key is that we need to gain some flexibility or greater flexibility than what we have. We have got our own business to take care of with Dermott and Mikheyev as restricted free agents. This will give us some space beyond them to sort of address all of the other needs that we feel that we have.

Related: Multiple Failed Trades Led to Kapanen Deal With Penguins [Report]

More Likely to Make a Trade Than Sign a Free Agent?

Dubas said his scouts will move forward as if they are going to make a selection with the No. 15 pick. That said, Dubas also admitted that he’s not taken a long look at the free agent market for defenseman, other than to see who is on the list.

He noted that gauging the market and what the values of these players will be is far too difficult right now. He explained, “… it’s so different than anything else that we have faced just with the cap being where it is and different cash restrictions on all teams in the league and what you are able to do.”

The Trade Gives the Team Flexibility

Perhaps more than anything, Dubas said he wanted to create more flexibility for the organization. He said that it was important that the team have options to either use cap space in the offseason or make decisions as the season goes along. Since no one really knows what’s going to happen, having wiggle room to make adjustments through signing free agents or making trades was critical.

As for the first-round pick, Dubas will have to make that decision in the next few weeks. The date of the draft is slated for October 9 and 10.

Next: Crawford Expected to Take Home-Town Discount to Stay With Blackhawks

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