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Dennis Rodman trade: How Michael Jordan's Bulls dealt their backup center for the NBA's best rebounder – CBS Sports

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Will Perdue was a solid NBA player, who averaged 4.7 points per game across a 13-year career. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of production, especially when you’re playing with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. Plenty of players would trade places with him just for a chance at one of his four championship rings. He just isn’t the sort of player one would expect to be traded for a Hall of Famer. 

But on October 3, 1995, Perdue was dealt straight up for Dennis Rodman, who was still in his prime from a production standpoint. There were no draft picks involved. No other players. Not even a bit of cash. Chicago gave up a backup center and received a Third-Team All-NBA forward. In a modern NBA that routinely sees superstars traded for packages featuring several elite young players and valuable draft assets, such a deal is practically unthinkable. 

The deal was the result of perhaps the most precipitous non-injury-related decline in trade value in NBA history. In the 1993 offseason, Rodman demanded a trade from the Detroit Pistons and was dealt to the San Antonio Spurs. The return for Detroit was substantial: 24-year-old All-Star Sean Elliott. In two years, Rodman managed to go from a player worthy of being traded for a young star to one who could only net a backup center. In those two years, his numbers were largely steady, he received numerous on-court accolades, and he suffered no career-altering injuries. 

So how did the Bulls manage to snag Rodman for such a historically low price? There were three principal factors driving down Rodman’s trade value, so we’ll start with the obvious:  

1. Rodman’s erratic off-court behavior

Perhaps San Antonio should have recognized the risk in trading for Rodman based on his behavior during his final season in Detroit. Rodman was extremely close with former Pistons coach Chuck Daly, whose resignation in 1992 seemingly sparked a change in the former Defensive Player of the Year. Rodman skipped training camp in 1992 and was fined $68,000. He was suspended three games for refusing to go on a road trip. But the low undoubtedly came in February of 1993, when he was found asleep in his truck outside of The Palace at Auburn Hills with a rifle. Rodman described the events in ESPN’s documentary about him, “Rodman: For Better or Worse” as the beginning of a transformation.

“When I put the gun to my head, I wasn’t trying to shoot Dennis Rodman,” he said. “I was trying to change the old one so that the new one could come out.”

The new Rodman may be best-known for dating Madonna, dying his hair and becoming one of the NBA’s most notorious partiers, but it was his conduct as a basketball player that ultimately irked the Spurs. He was fined a total of $32,500 during his first season in San Antonio for four separate incidents and was suspended a total of three games. He headbutted multiple opposing players, including then-Bull Stacey King, and things only got worse from there. 

Rodman’s second season in San Antonio reads like a Mad Lib. In November, he threw a bag of ice at Spurs coach Bob Hill after being ejected from an exhibition game. He separated his shoulder in a motorcycle accident. He took a leave of absence from the team, was late to games and teams events and was again suspended on multiple occasions. Things came to a head in the 1995 playoffs. 

In the middle of Game 3 of San Antonio’s second-round series against the Los Angeles Lakers, Rodman took off his shoes and sat down by the training table. He did not join team huddles, instead choosing to simply watch the game. Hill did not put him back on the floor in Game 3, and then-Spurs general manager Gregg Popovich suspended him for Game 4. In his biography, “Bad as I Wanna Be,” Rodman viewed the decision as one approved by the entire team. 

“The players wanted to take a stand against me,” Rodman wrote. “Management wanted to take a stand against me. The whole organization wanted to send a message to me.”

Rodman viewed that as the moment in which he knew he would not return to San Antonio. Spurs star David Robinson made the team’s sentiment at that point perfectly clear. 

“I want him back,” Robinson said according to the New York Times. “But with the right frame of mind.”

Rodman was not in the right frame of mind, and that was the final straw. San Antonio was so fed up with his antics that it resolved to trade him. But at that point, interest was virtually non-existent. His behavior was a big reason for that, but there was another driving factor in that soft market. 

2. The Spurs had no leverage whatsoever

The NBA knew that Rodman was not long for San Antonio. The Spurs not only considered making him available in the 1995 Expansion Draft, but may have released him outright had the Bulls not come along with a trade, according to the Los Angeles Times. They were extremely fortunate that they did, because the Spurs simply didn’t have anywhere else to send Rodman. 

Never has the NBA had a greater abundance of talent at the power forward position than the mid-1990’s. Considering Rodman’s age (34 during the 1995 offseason), it stood to reason that only a contender would be interested. It just so happened that every winning team was set at power forward … except Chicago. Besides Rodman’s Spurs, nine teams finished above the Bulls in the 1994-95 standings. Four of them had power forwards that made the All-Star Game in 1995 (Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Shawn Kemp and Larry Johnson). Orlando had just stolen Horace Grant from the Bulls. Houston had just won a championship with Robert Horry. The Knicks (Charles Oakley), Lakers (Elden Campbell) and Pacers (Dale and Antonio Davis) all had solid veterans that weren’t going to be displaced. San Antonio had nowhere to trade Rodman except Chicago. 

And the Bulls were hardly a slam dunk. There was a major hangup that could have nixed the deal in its infancy.  

“Scottie [Pippen] was totally against it,” Michael Jordan explained in “Rodman: For Better or Worse.” “Which I understood because when we played Detroit, he and Scottie had some really heated battles. Scottie didn’t like him.”

Pippen’s issues with Rodman stemmed from a dirty foul in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals. 

Rodman explained to Darnell Mayberry of The Athletic that the animosity was so severe that after the trade was completed, Bulls coach Phil Jackson forced him to apologize to Pippen. With this in mind, the Spurs hardly had room to negotiate. Chicago was taking a risk in the first place by bringing Rodman onto Pippen’s team. They weren’t going to pay San Antonio anymore than they had to for the privilege. 

Especially considering how much they were going to have to pay Rodman to be their power forward. Financial concerns easily could have killed the trade before it happened. 

3. Rodman’s contract situation complicated things

Rodman said in his documentary that by the time he was traded to the Bulls he was “nearly broke.” When he met with Bulls leadership, “All he wanted to talk about was how much he was going to get paid,” Phil Jackson explained in his book, “Eleven Rings.” At the time, Rodman was going through a divorce and living beyond his means despite what was a fairly healthy salary for the time period. 

In 1995, Rodman was entering the final season of a long-term contract he signed as a member of the Pistons. That deal guaranteed him a salary of $2.5 million. As small as that might seem by modern standards, the cap for the 1995-96 season was only $23 million. In making around 11 percent of the salary cap, Rodman’s 1995-96 salary would be the equivalent of around $11.9 million today. 

That posed a problem in making a trade work under the salary cap. How many contenders nowadays have $11.9 million in salary that they’re eager to trade for a risk as great as Rodman? Any player earning nearly as much as Rodman was too valuable to be traded for a player with as little value as Rodman. So not only did the Spurs need to find a team willing to take Rodman, but they had to find one that had enough bad salary to send back to them for a trade to be legally allowable. And that’s where the Bulls came in. 

Chicago’s frontcourt was pillaged in 1994 free agency. Starting power forward Horace Grant left for Orlando. Starting center Bill Cartwright joined the Seattle SuperSonics. Key backup Scott Williams departed as well, so with almost no meaningful talent left up front, the Bulls moved to secure one of their few remaining big men. Perdue, whom they had selected No. 11 overall in 1988, was in line for a bigger role, so the Bulls rewarded him with a bigger contract. Chicago handed him a six-year deal worth in excess of $12 million. That contract was big enough to be dealt straight up for Rodman, and when Luc Longley emerged as Chicago’s starting center during the 1994-95 season, Perdue became expendable. 

That it was expiring created another problem for potential trade partners. If Rodman lived up to his promise, he would require a hefty contract extension. At 35 years old and given his general instability, that would have been an even greater risk than the trade. A Rodman contract gone wrong could have ruined the finances of a normal team. Fortunately, Chicago was not a normal team. 

The Bulls were so wildly profitable in the 1990s that they regularly spent far above the cap. Jordan alone received salaries in his final two Chicago seasons that were greater than the entire cap. At this point, there was no max contract, and teams could re-sign their own players without limits thanks to Bird Rights. Jordan’s deal ensured that Chicago had no aspirations of creating cap space moving forward, so they lost no flexibility paying Rodman. He received a one-year, $9 million contract for the 1996-97 season, and then a $4.6 million pact for the 1997-98 season. So with no major financial concerns in acquiring him, the Bulls went ahead and executed the deal. 

Never in NBA history have the stars aligned so perfectly for a contending team to make a blockbuster trade. For the Bulls to get a player of Rodman’s caliber in exchange for a backup, they needed him to systematically destroy his trade value over the course of two years in an era in which players of his position were plentiful and few teams could afford to absorb his contract. It was a one-in-a-million fluke that allowed the Bulls to add a third Hall-of-Famer to their legendary Jordan-Pippen duo, and fortunately for the sake of competitive balance, it is one that is unlikely to ever repeat itself. 

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Facts and Figures: Regular-season recap – NHL.com

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Leon Draisaitl became the first Germany-born and 10th Europe-born player to lead the NHL in points. The Edmonton Oilers forward had 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games.

It’s the third time in four seasons an Oilers player won the Art Ross Trophy; Edmonton is the first team to achieve that feat since the Pittsburgh Penguins won seven straight scoring titles from 1994-95 to 2000-01 (Jaromir Jagr, 1994-95 and 1997-01; Mario Lemieux, 1995-97).

Draisaitl and teammate Connor McDavid (97), the Art Ross winner in 2016-17 and 2017-18, were first and second in points. It’s the seventh time in 44 seasons that teammates finished first and second in the scoring race.

For the fifth time in NHL history, the top-four scorers were born in different countries (McDavid, Canada; David Pastrnak of Boston Bruins, 95 points, Czech Republic; Artemi Panarin of New York Rangers, 95 points, Russia). This also occurred in 2018-19, 2005-06 (top five), 1998-99 and 1997-98.

Video: EDM@LAK: Draisaitl buries McDavid’s feed for PPG

Richard race ends in tie: Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals each scored 48 goals to share the Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, introduced in 1998-99 and given annually to the top goal-scorer in the NHL. Pastrnak is 23; Ovechkin is 34. It’s the first time in 57 seasons that one player 23 or younger and another 34 or older were the top two goal-scorers in the NHL. Bobby Hull of the Chicago Black Hawks (50 goals) was 23 and Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings (33 goals) was 34 when they finished first and second in 1961-62.

Pastrnak is the first player since Phil Esposito (61 in 1974-75) to lead the NHL in goals for the Bruins. He also joined Esposito (three times) and Bobby Orr (twice) as the third Boston player with at least four hat tricks in one season.

Ovechkin topped the NHL in goals for the third straight season and an NHL-record ninth time overall. He had an NHL career-high four hat tricks and is the fourth player in NHL history to score at least 48 goals in one season at age 34 or older, joining Jaromir Jagr of the New York Rangers (54 in 2005-06 at 34), Johnny Bucyk of the Bruins (51 in 1970-71 at 35) and Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks (48 in 2006-07 at 34).

Video: WSH@MIN: Ovechkin nets one-timer on two-man advantage

Ovechkin became the eighth player in NHL history to reach the 700-goal mark when he scored against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 22. He finished the season with 706, passing Hockey Hall of Famers Luc Robitaille (668), Teemu Selanne (684), Lemieux (690), Steve Yzerman (692) and Mark Messier (694) along the way.

Pastrnak and Ovechkin were among 56 NHL players with at least one hat trick.

The five 40-goal scorers in the NHL this season were born in different countries, the seventh time that’s happened (Ovechkin, Russia; Pastrnak, Czech Republic; Auston Matthews of Toronto Maple Leafs, 47 goals, United States; Draisaitl, Germany; and Mika Zibanejad of the Rangers, 41, Sweden).

It was the first season in NHL history to end without a Canada-born player among the top eight in goals.

Rookie defensemen shine: Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks (53 points; eight goals, 45 assists in 68 games) and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche (50 points; 12 goals, 38 assists in 57 games) finished first and second among rookies in points. It’s the first time in the NHL modern era (since 1943-44) that defensemen finished first and second in rookie scoring.

Hughes became the third modern-era defenseman to lead rookies in scoring, joining Orr (1966-67) and Brian Leetch of the Rangers (1988-89).

Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik topped NHL rookies with 30 goals. He’s the first player born in the Czech Republic or the former Czechoslovakia to lead NHL rookies in goals, and the third to reach the 30-goal mark in his first NHL season after Petr Klima of the Red Wings (32 in 1985-86) and Petr Prucha of the Rangers (30 in 2005-06).

Video: CHI@TBL: Kubalik records first career hat trick

D-man leaders: Zach Werenski led defensemen with 20 goals, the most by a Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman since they entered the NHL in 2000-01.

Werenski is the eighth active NHL defenseman to score at least 20 goals in one season.

John Carlson of the Capitals led defensemen with 60 assists and 75 points. He was on pace to finish with 89 points, which would have been the most by an NHL defenseman since Hockey Hall of Famer Sergei Zubov had 89 for the Rangers in 1993-94.

Goalie leaders and achievements: Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning won 35 games to lead the NHL in victories for the third consecutive season. He’s the second goalie to lead the League in wins in at least three seasons before his 26th birthday, joining Terry Sawchuk, who did it in five straight seasons for the Red Wings (1950-55). Vasilevskiy is the first goalie of any age to lead the NHL in wins for at least three consecutive seasons since Martin Brodeur of the Devils did it in four straight (2002-07).

Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets led the NHL with six shutouts, tying the single-season Jets/Atlanta Thrashers record he set in 2017-18. He was second to Vasilevskiy with 31 victories, the third time in his NHL career he won at least 30 games.

Boston’s Tuukka Rask was No. 1 in goals-against average (2.12) and second in save percentage (.929) to Anton Khudobin of the Dallas Stars (.930) among goalies who played at least 23 games. Rask and Jaroslav Halak combined to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goalie(s) whose team allows the fewest goals.

Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators made NHL history Jan. 9 when he scored the 13th goal credited to a goalie during the regular season (there have been two in the Stanley Cup Playoffs).

Rinne shot the puck into an empty net against the Blackhawks for the first goal by an NHL goalie since Mike Smith of the Phoenix Coyotes scored against the Red Wings on Oct. 19, 2013.

Video: NSH@CHI: Rinne launches home first NHL goal

Comebacks galore: Leads were rarely safe this season.

There were 457 games won by a team that trailed at some point, tied for the second-most comeback wins through 1,082 games in NHL history (474 in 2005-06 and 457 in 2018-19). The Capitals and St. Louis Blues shared the League lead with 21 comeback victories.

Of those 457 comeback wins, 125 came after a team trailed by multiple goals, the most in NHL history through 1,082 games. There were 43 games won by a team that trailed by multiple goals in the third period, the second most in NHL history through 1,082 games (45 in 2009-10). In 21.5 percent of all games (233 of 1,082), a team at least tied the score after trailing by more than one goal.

There were five games when a team won after trailing by at least four goals. That’s tied for the most in a single season, matching the mark set in 1983-84 and equaled in 1985-86.

Close games were also the rule, with 70.4 percent (762 of 1,082) decided by one goal or by multiple goals with at least one into an empty net.

Youth will be served: Younger players continue to excel.

Ten of the 17 players to score at least 30 goals were age 24 or younger, and the top three in the points race (Draisaitl, 24; McDavid and Pastrnak, each 23) all were under 25. It’s the fifth time in NHL history that’s happened, but the first since 2009-10 (also 1983-84, 1984-85, 1994-95).

None of the League’s top five in points has reached his 30th birthday (also Panarin, 28, and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, 24, who had 93 points).

Rookie goalies accounted for 10 shutouts, with five by Elvis Merzlikins of the Blue Jackets.

A total of 16 players born in the 2000s played at least one game this season. That includes five members of the 2019 NHL Draft class (Jack Hughes of the Devils, Kaapo Kakko of the Rangers, Kirby Dach of the Blackhawks, Ville Heinola of the Jets and Tobias Bjornfot of the Los Angeles Kings).

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Projecting the Maple Leafs playoff roster – Pension Plan Puppets

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This week, the NHL announced further details in their Return to Play protocol, you can read up on all that in the links below. Along with a 24-team playoff format, the NHL has announced rules for how many roster players each team can carry during training camps and games. Each team is allowed 28 skaters and as many goaltenders as they can carry (that are on NHL contracts), which I’m calling the Dave Ayres Rule.

Let’s have a look at who they’re bringing.

The Goalies

The Toronto Maple Leafs have five goaltenders under contract for the 2019-20 season. Frederik Andersen, Jack Campbell, Kasimir Kaskisuo, Joseph Woll, and Ian Scott. It seems quite logical that the Leafs will bring the first four with them, with Ian Scott on the maybe list depending on how far he’s rehabbed after hip surgery. Four seems like a nice even number, though.

28 Skaters

There are 21 skaters currently on the Leafs active roster according to CapFriendly. They are listed below:

Forwards: Auston Matthews, John Tavares, Mitchell Marner, William Nylander, Alexander Kerfoot, Kasperi Kapanen, Zach Hyman, Kyle Clifford, Pierre Engvall, Denis Malgin, Jason Spezza, Frederik Gauthier
Defense: Morgan Rielly, Cody Ceci, Jake Muzzin, Tyson Barrie, Rasmus Sandin, Travis Dermott, Calle Rosen, Martin Marincin, Justin Holl

There are four players on Long-Term Injury Reserve. Nathan Horton, David Clarkson, Andreas Johnsson, and Ilya Mikheyev. Quite a quartet. Mikheyev is 100% healthy, per his agent. Johnsson was scheduled to be out six months starting in February, putting his return date in August, which is when the NHL expects the playoffs to begin.

Adding those two, the number of skaters up to 23.

Timothy Liljegren is currently with the Marlies, but all indications are that he’s a lock to join the Leafs for the playoffs. 24.

Nick Robertson, the Leafs most recent top pick, has made the cut, according to GM Kyle Dubas! He’s flown into Toronto from California where he was quarantining with his parents and brother. After destroying the OHL as an 18-year-old, how Robertson fares against NHL players will be a very interesting test. This will almost be a rehearsal for his potential arrival into the league in 2020-21. 25.

And now is when it gets tricky. With 15 forwards and 10 defensemen essentially locked in, there are only three spots remaining of the 28. I wrote an article a couple weeks ago when Taxi Squads were being discussed. The list of current Marlies with a shot at some playoff action is quite long.

In hindsight, my shortlist was quite long, I was expecting the Leafs to take nine extras, including Liljegren and Robertson. Here’s what I had:

Black Aces
F: Nic Petan, Adam Brooks, Pontus Aberg, Kenny Agostino, Egor Korshkov, Nick Robertson
D: Timothy Liljegren, Kevin Gravel, Teemu Kivihalme

Right off the bat, I think I’m comfortable taking Gravel and Kivihalme off the list. The Leafs have six left defensemen and four righties in the 25 above, and both Gravel and Kivihalme shoot left.

At forward, I think the Leafs would really like to have Adam Brooks on their roster. He’s tailor-made for spot duty on the fourth line and he’s a centre, of which the Leafs only have five that sit naturally at that position (Matthews, Tavares, Kerfoot(ish), Spezza, Gauthier). He would bring the number up to 26.

Kenny Agostino was confirmed to be heading back to Toronto in order to join the Leafs playoff roster, so he’s in. I can’t say I’m surprised considering he was the best Marlies forward last season and his chance in the NHL was long overdue. Agostino is a quick, deceptive winger with a great shot. He’s good enough in his own zone and is valuable on the power play. 27.

The Last Man

Now it gets really tough. Do the Leafs like Egor Korshkov enough to bring him? I think so? I’m not confident in it, especially with Nic Petan and Pontus Aberg both also on the shortlist.

Korshkov was liked during his time with the Leafs, scoring in his one-and-only NHL game. In the AHL, Korshkov succeeded when he was healthy and playing with quality teammates. Unfortunately, he missed time due to injury twice and was shoved on the third line for much of the season, so his results aren’t anything to be inspired by. I think Korshkov has a lot of value to the Leafs, and as the 18th forward, it might be more valuable to have him practicing and learning for a shot next season than sitting at home.

Petan and Aberg are the other two options. Based on their NHL performances, Nic Petan edges out Pontus Aberg, though in the AHL it’s the other way around. Aberg is a hard-nosed winger who has a chip on his shoulder. He’s got skill and he’s been in the playoffs before. And the rumours he’s heading to the KHL don’t seem to be founded. Petan is a creative puck-mover who had great shot metrics with the Leafs and is a different dimension from the other fourth liners the Leafs currently have.

I think both can provide a dimension on the fourth line that currently isn’t being filled; someone who can carry the puck in transition and facilitate with some finishers. Maybe they think Malgin and Brooks can do it and they’d rather go with size in Korshkov, or maybe they’ll realize a more open, rusty style is something a player like Petan can excel in.

So, you can only pick one. Who do you choose? Petan, Aberg, Agostino.

Poll

Who rounds out the Leafs playoff roster as the 28th skater?

  • 57%

    Egor Korshkov

    (490 votes)

  • 25%

    Nic Petan

    (213 votes)

  • 13%

    Pontus Aberg

    (113 votes)

  • 4%

    Someone else.

    (36 votes)



852 votes total

Vote Now

Lineup Projection

I don’t think we’ve had a game where the entire Leafs roster has been healthy and included the graduates like Engvall and Sandin. Finding the right seven combinations of players is going to be a very challenging task, and I’m sure lots of people on the internet are going to have their suggestions.

Here’s my guess:

Ilya Mikheyev – Auston Matthews – Mitch Marner

It doesn’t really seem to matter which right winger lines up next to which centre when it comes to the Big Four. Matthews and Marner are buddies and always wanted to play together under Babcock, if it keeps them happy, why not.

Mikheyev was skating when the pause happened in mid March. It’s been 10 weeks since then so I’d be moderately comfortable throwing him right back into the fire like they did to start the regular season, all those many months ago.

3M line, anyone?

Zach HymanJohn TavaresWilliam Nylander

I like the idea of Tavares having the puck more and not always having to be the first player to the front of the net. Let Hyman do that and let Tavares be a bit more creative with Nylander. All three of these players are heady forwards who like to score right in the front of the net. They will be absolute havoc together. And for anyone concerned about Nylander’s defense, he’s got some of the best supporting linemates on the team.

Andreas Johnsson – Alex Kerfoot – Kasperi Kapanen

Johnsson has a longer recovery timeline than Mikheyev and is coming off surgery, so having him on a more sheltered third line with his Marlies buddy Kasperi Kapanen feels like a good place to be. They haven’t played very much all together, but Kapanen has good numbers with both Kerfoot and Johnsson as duos.

I am a little worried that Keefe will break up this trio if he thinks Mikheyev isn’t quite ready for top line minutes and put Kerfoot on the wing. I’ve never liked when he did that, it made the whole bottom six useless when depth has always been what the Leafs pride themselves on. If Kerfoot does become a winger, Spezza will likely come up to centre the line.

Kyle Clifford – Pierre Engvall – Jason Spezza

Mathematically, there are 84 combinations for this fourth line with the nine players remaining on the roster. I picked these three because they have the most NHL experience this year and they fit nicely as a trio.

Engvall and Spezza fit the LH-RH centre duo so they can take draws on both sides. All three have size and some snarl to them. Engvall is strong on the penalty kill and forecheck. Spezza is useful to move up the lineup, on second power play unit, and his shot is great. And, honestly, I don’t remember much from Clifford as a Leaf but I hear people like him.

If he’s prepared, Robertson has a chance to take one of these spots.

Forward Scratches

Frederik Gauthier, Denis Malgin, Adam Brooks, Nick Robertson, Kenny Agostino, Egor Korshkov/Nic Petan/Pontus Aberg.

Jake MuzzinJustin Holl

This is the first pair pretty much entirely through default. They’ve been a pair all season and they’ve done as well as you could ask for at 5v5. The Leafs really missed Muzzin when he got injured, so having him back will be great. Both of these guys have contract extensions with nice modest raises coming next season, whenever that is.

Morgan RiellyTravis Dermott

Rielly has been the Leafs top-pairing defenseman for some time now. He’s played top competition every night and has been as good as one could ask. The thing holding him back from top lines this season has been his partner. He just hasn’t had someone on his right side that can live up to the same level of competition.

When he was with Barrie, they played third pair defensive minutes. Rielly and Ceci were a trainwreck as the top pair, and the whole point when acquiring Ceci was that he could thrive more in sheltered minutes. The Leafs would be asking a lot out of Sandin if they put him in the top-four so immediately.

So the role, in my opinion, falls to Dermott. He hasn’t had much time on the right side, but he played some top-four this season and did pretty okay. Maybe Rielly is the guy who switches over, who knows.

This pairing will also run double duty as a litmus test for how the Leafs plan to lineup in the future. They have Rielly, Muzzin, Sandin, Dermott, and Mikko Lehtonen under team control for next season, and at least one is going to have to play their off side. Dermott has been widely talked about as the odd-man out on the left side, but if he can prove that he can play the right, it keeps him in his hometown of Toronto.

Rasmus Sandin – Tyson Barrie

Sandin will without a doubt be the defensive conscious of this pairing. They’re going to get offensive minutes and spot shifts with Rielly to keep their minutes up, which has been something Keefe has done often.

Defense Scratches

Cody Ceci, Calle Rosen, Martin Marincin, Timothy Liljegren.

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Chicago Blackhawks may not be able to use secret weapon on defence against Edmonton Oilers – Edmonton Journal

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Article content continued

“I can tell you that as of right now, our position, and this is something we’re going to have to ultimately resolve with the NHL Players’ Association like so many other contractual issues, but our position, the League’s position right now, and our position with our clubs since the start of the pause, is no club is entitled to sign a current‑year contract,” NHL vice-president Bill Daly said during a Zoom call with reporters. “They are free to sign future‑year contracts, so for the 2020‑21 season and beyond, perfectly fair game.

“But it would be our position, particularly given the advanced date and given the fact it could affect a lot of the players who might now be able to play the balance of the season, it may be unfair to let them play the balance of the season. We’ve progressed past the trade deadline. Each team has kind of set its roster. Its roster reflects — and everybody will come back healthy, which is a benefit to the teams — its roster really reflects its efforts in the 2019‑20 season. And to add a couple of, for lack of a better term, ‘ringers’ when you’re going into the playoffs is not the best way for sports to proceed in our view.”

The Hawks will also likely be missing veteran Brent Seabrook on defence, with Calvin de Haan coming back from his second should surgery in one year. Seabook had multiple surgeries in December and January, while de Haan had his last surgery in December. He may be ready to play.

If you go buy regular season time-on-ice, the Blackhawks defence will be led by Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy, with de Haan, Olli Maata, Slater Koekkoek and Adam Boqvist on the second and third pairings. Mitchell, a right shot d-man, would likely bolster the group significantly.

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