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What does and does not need to happen for the Leafs to land Pietrangelo in free agency – Pension Plan Puppets



Cap Friendly has been overrun with Leafs fans this weekend as reports indicate contract negotiations between the Alex Pietrangelo and the St. Louis Blues have deteriorated. It’s becoming more and more likely Pietrangelo will enter free agency on October 9th, with the Toronto Maple Leafs deeply interested. If the improbable happens and he signs, I just want to say that Justin Faulk will never pay for a drink in the GTA ever again.

In the grand scheme of things, the odds Pietrangelo signs on the virtual dotted line in October are low. The Blues can cave in at any moment and give into his contract demands, another team could come in with a better offer, or a meteor could smash into the Earth (we’re on pace for one before the end of September at the rate 2020 is going).

But what if he does? What will the Leafs need to do in order to ice a salary cap compliant and competitive team for next season?

What doesn’t need to happen: Trading Frederik Andersen

The Leafs goalie situation is, for the most part, independent of finding the cap space for Pietrangelo. If the Leafs do make a trade for someone like Matt Murray, Darcy Kuemper, Alexander Georgiev, or sign Robin Lehner, the team’s cap space will go up or down, but it won’t be done because the Leafs need the space. It’ll be because Kyle Dubas pulled the trigger on a goalie for the medium term so he didn’t have to deal with it next season when Andersen is a free agent.

Trading for a cheaper goalie would make signing Pietrangelo easier, as they’ll be able to keep one of their middle-class contracts, but it’s not necessary. Plus, personally, spending more on a more proven starting goalie is more valuable than an average 3C, especially on this team.

What does need to happen: Trading Andreas Johnsson

This move is almost a given if the Leafs are interested in acquiring any defenseman of merit onto the team. Andreas Johnsson simply does not move the needle enough on a team needs as much bang for their buck when it comes to offense beyond the top-four. Ilya Mikheyev has seemingly passed him by on the left side, Nick Robertson is blazing towards doing the same. As a winger, he just doesn’t provide enough.

I don’t think there’s much debate on this topic from the community from what I’ve seen.

What doesn’t need to happen: Trading Morgan Rielly

The money doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t need to happen. The Leafs don’t have someone on the right side who can play the minutes Rielly does and provide the elite puck-moving offense from the defense. Offensively, he can’t realistically be replaced. Where Rielly has lacked statistically, it’s been defensively next to a crop of some of the worst defensive players in the league during Rielly’s time in it. Ron Hainsey was the best one, and replacing him with Alex Pietrangelo has a strong chance of creating an elite top pair this team needs.

Give this pair two seasons together and let’s see what they can do. And at the end of it all, the Leafs will be out of Phil Kessel’s retained salary and Jack Campbell’s contract, giving them adequate space to give Rielly a respectable couple million dollars raise. He won’t command more than Pietrangelo (reportedly in the $8-9 million range) and that’s something the Leafs can do, even under a flat cap. and if the Leafs need to choose between Rielly and an aged Jake Muzzin, they can spend the assets and move Muzzin out too.

There are options for the Leafs to have their Rielly cake (phrasing) and eat it too. It doesn’t need to be solved right now.

Breathe, Rielly is staying.

What does* need to happen: Trading Alex Kerfoot
* probably

I’ve laid out a scenario for the Leafs below to sign Pietrangelo and fill out their roster using internal RFAs and trading both Johnsson and Kerfoot for picks or prospects. I have no idea what the return for those players will be — especially if here are signed skaters coming back — but it’ll definitely look something like this.

With Kerfoot, there is a tiny bit of space that could be made to keep him on the team for a second season. It would require a major squeeze to the likes of RFAs Ilya Mikheyev, Evan Rodrigues. and Travis Dermott (who I will get to later) and likely the trading of Pierre Engvall. All of those things are difficult and cruel, but those players are replaceable for the most part. I think it’s worthwhile to try, but it would be very hard and callous. Brigstew has an article coming out on this that I won’t spoil, but replacing Kerfoot for cheap is a very reasonable proposition (spoiler above).

What Kerfoot doesn’t do is provide enough value on the third line to downgrade top of the lineup players like Andersen, Rielly, or even Zach Hyman. On the ladder of expendable players on the Leafs, Kerfoot and his contract is at the bottom of that group making $2-6 million. Maybe Justin Holl gets bumped for Dermott, that could be very possible.

There are a lot of different avenues the Leafs can take to ice a competitive lineup next season bolstered by one of the top defensemen in the world, however none of them require a major piece to be news. No offense to Andreas and Alexander.

Top Heavy

If the improbable does happen and the above moves do need to happen, the Leafs will finally be what they’ve been accused of by so many people: top heavy. They’ll have two elite forward lines, one elite defense pair, and hopefully a top-10 goalie in Frederik Andersen (at least for this year). The defense will finally look respectable after decades of being bottom-10 in the league, I think I quite like all three pairings (plus whoever else they have as a scratch or on the Marlies. The bottom-six is where they’ll be weakest.

Unless the Leafs can get above-expected seasons from some of their players — Robertson gets old and better, Engvall gets out of his shooting bender, and Alexander Barabanov becomes a worthwhile middle-six player — the third and fourth lines will basically be two fourth lines. Similar to what the Marlies did, I wouldn’t mind an offensively focused and a defensively focused group to maximize both units.

I don’t know if I trust the Leafs top two lines to carry the team every night, but they’ll have to if this is the way the Leafs go in this direction. It’s risky and scary, but it also gets you Alex Pietrangelo. Is that worth it?


What would you do as GM?

  • 69%

    Bring me Pietro, we need to solve the 1RD problem

    (816 votes)

  • 30%

    Cheap and cheerful, build on depth

    (357 votes)

1173 votes total

Vote Now

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Cam Newton: Starting Job In Danger If Poor Play Continues –



Cam Newton admitted his job as quarterback of the New England Patriots will be in jeopardy if he struggles like he did against the San Francisco 49ers. 

“The first thing I said to myself coming home was, ‘You keep playing games like that, bro, and it’s going to be a permanent change,'” Newton said Monday morning on Boston sports radio WEEI.

“You don’t need to tell me that for me to understand that. I get it loud and clear.”

Bill Belichick said he’s “absolutely” sticking with Newton as his starter despite giving Jarrett Stidham some reps in the fourth quarter.

“For any type of competitor, do you feel embarrassed? Yeah,” Newton said Monday in the radio interview. “I don’t feel offended by what was done. I don’t feel offended having this type of conversation. I’m a realist.

“I don’t fear my position stability more so than controlling the locker room. Performances like yesterday jeopardizes [that]. It’s like ‘Oh my God!’ Players talk and that’s what’s most important to me. Knowing you have your coaches’ belief [is good], but my belief is that I want to have the whole facility … It doesn’t start with no miraculous play. It’s a whole body of work that goes into performing on Sunday.”

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Rams dominate matchup of tough defences to prevail over Bears – TSN



INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Rams could tell Leonard Floyd was playing with an uncommon fury against his old team, and the rest of the Los Angeles defence followed his lead.

By the time the Rams were done with the Chicago Bears on Monday night, Floyd had two sacks and the game ball — and Los Angeles had a decisive, energizing victory over a fellow NFC contender.

Josh Reynolds and Gerald Everett caught touchdown passes from Jared Goff, and the Rams won a matchup of dominant defences, beating the Bears 24-10.

“We proved that we were the better defence today,” Floyd said after a six-tackle performance in his first game against Chicago since the Bears released him last off-season.

After his first sack, Floyd jumped up and went toward the Bears sideline, shouting and gesticulating at the team that let him go. Floyd already knows he landed in a good spot with the Rams (5-2), who remained unbeaten at brand-new SoFi Stadium and reasserted themselves in the conference hierarchy with a rebound performance one week after a rough loss at San Francisco

“I thought our defence was outstanding from start to finish,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “They did such a great job. Some key stops, some key turnovers. Offensively, we did enough to get that lead and then really just run out the clock on that game.”

Goff passed for 219 yards and Malcolm Brown rushed for a score for the Rams, but their defence did the hardest work.

Taylor Rapp made an end-zone interception on a pass deflection by Troy Hill while the Rams held Chicago (5-2) to 182 yards in the first three quarters and built a 24-3 lead.

Eddie Jackson returned a fumble 8 yards for Chicago’s only touchdown with 7:30 to play, but Los Angeles’ defence stayed in control, yielding 279 total yards and three points. The Rams have won twice in three defence-dominated games between these longtime rivals over the past three seasons.

“Obviously, stating the obvious, the offence, we’ve got to get this stuff figured out,” Chicago coach Matt Nagy said. “It’s not good enough, and to be outscored by your defence, obviously, is unacceptable, too. So that part is frustrating.”

Nick Foles passed for 261 yards for the Bears, who dropped out of the NFC North lead and fell to 3-1 on the road with their latest discouraging offensive performance. Chicago managed just 49 yards rushing and has 175 yards on the ground in the past four games.

Jackson insisted the defence won’t get discouraged by the offence’s struggles.

“It’s a team sport, and we know the type of players we have on offence,” Jackson said. “We’ll put ’em against any defence any day. You’re going to come up short in some games … but we’re going to continue to rally around one another and do our best.”

The Rams’ defence, now co-ordinated by former Bears outside linebackers coach Brandon Staley, sacked Foles four times and picked off two of his passes, including Jalen Ramsey‘s first interception of the season near midfield to clinch the victory with 3:13 to play.

Staley also was awarded a game ball by McVay after the latest in a strong line of performances by his defence.

“The defence, we’re playing aggressive, we’re playing physical, and we’re making all the right plays,” said linebacker Justin Hollins, who had a huge fourth-down sack in the red zone after Aaron Donald flushed Foles from the pocket in the fourth quarter. “Everybody is on one page. We’re just one tight unit right now.”

The Rams led 10-3 at halftime after holding the Bears to 126 yards. Reynolds made his 4-yard TD reception in the first quarter, but the Bears stopped two additional drives just outside field goal range to keep the deficit manageable.

The Rams went up 17-3 midway through the third quarter on a TD drive capped by Brown’s 1-yard run.

Chicago mounted its best drive immediately thereafter, but its 71-yard march ended when Hill deflected a pass intended for Darnell Mooney in the end zone and Rapp snagged it for an interception.

The Rams followed with a crisp 80-yard drive capped by a 12-yard TD catch-and-run by Everett, their big-play tight end.

Chicago showed life when Jackson returned Robert Woods‘ fumble on a jet sweep for the sixth defensive touchdown of his four-year career, but the Bears couldn’t ride any momentum.


Even Rams punter Johnny Hekker dominated the Bears, pinning them inside their 10 with all five of his punts in a superb performance by the four-time Pro Bowler.

“Johnny is the best punter in the league, and he showed it tonight,” Goff said. “He really was a weapon for us.”

The Rams celebrated his big kicks as a team, and Hekker even got a chest bump from Donald, LA’s All-Pro defensive tackle.

“It’s just great to know that Aaron Donald knows my name sometimes,” Hekker said with a laugh.


Bears: WR Allen Robinson was evaluated for a concussion after he left the game late in the fourth quarter. He led the Bears with 70 yards receiving. … C Cody Whitehair injured his calf in the second half.

Rams: Rookie S Terrell Burgess was taken off the field on a cart in the fourth quarter with an air cast around his left leg. He has an ankle injury. … TE Tyler Higbee was inactive with a hand injury, missing his second game since 2016. Johnny Mundt had a career-high 47 yards receiving in his absence, including a career-best 34-yard catch in the second quarter.


Bears: Host New Orleans on Sunday.

Rams: Visit Miami on Sunday as the opponent in Tua Tagovailoa‘s debut start.


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Naylor: David Braley symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL – TSN



How to sum up David Braley’s meaning to the Canadian Football League?

Braley, the Ontario-based businessman and former Senator who passed away Monday at the age of 79, was at various times the owner of three teams in a nine-team league, including the Toronto Argonauts in whom he held a secret ownership position at the same time he owned the BC Lions.

He served as the CFL’s chairman of the board and took on the commissioner’s role in 2003 after he led the charge to oust Michael Lysko in 2002.

And until recently, when poor health interfered with his ability to participate in the business of the CFL, he was a powerful presence among league governors, so much so that every commissioner had to be aware of where Braley stood on key issues and be prepared to deal with being on the opposite side.

It became a common refrain among people within the league that there would be no Canadian Football League without Braley. And yet, he was both loved and loathed by those within it. Some considered him the league’s biggest benefactor, while others considered him a ruthless profiteer.

Braley grew up in Hamilton, Ont., rooting for the Tiger-Cats. He had played football in high school and at McMaster University, and was a Tiger-Cat season ticket holder before, during and after his ownership of the team, which went from 1989 until he sold the team in 1992 over his opposition to the CFL’s plan to expand to the U.S.

He re-entered the CFL officially as the savior of the Lions in late 1996, one of three CFL franchises insolvent by the end of that season. Braley claimed a federal cabinet minister had warned him that the CBC would bail as a TV partner if the league couldn’t field a Vancouver franchise the next season, so he stepped up.

When the Toronto Argonauts went bankrupt in 2003 under the ownership of Sherwood Schwartz, Braley was front and centre in the search for new owners, trying to broker a deal with Toronto businessmen David Cynamon and Howard Sokolowski.

The pair balked at the losses they’d be inheriting with the Argonauts. So Braley offered to be their partner, an arrangement that was known only by then-commissioner Tom Wright and select others before it was revealed in a 2009 Globe and Mail story.

The league subsequently passed bylaws requiring internal disclosure of all financial arrangements between teams. Braley eventually took over full ownership of the Argos in 2010, then sold the team to Bell and Larry Tanenbaum in 2016.

In its darkest hours, the CFL could always count on Braley, or so it seemed. He was there when the Lions and Argos needed new ownership, but also at various times over the past three decades when teams found themselves short on cash.

It’s believed he loaned money to every team in the CFL at least once, except for the Edmonton Eskimos. That includes to the Tiger-Cats during the years after he sold them to a non-profit group when he would continue to quietly write cheques to help the team make payroll. Braley’s name may not have been on the franchise, but he remained its primary financial backer.

That kind of financial influence in such a small league granted him enormous power, and Braley was never shy about trying to wield his influence over the direction of the league.

He also appeared to be rewarded with a disproportionate number of occasions to host the Grey Cup, which, in most circumstances, is a surefire money-maker. The Braley-owned Lions or Argos hosted the game five times over a 10-year period from 2005 to 2014.

Braley had created his wealth from scratch, taking a loan to purchase an industrial distributing company from a former neighbour, then shifting its focus into becoming a global auto parts manufacturing giant.

He was a well-known for his frugality as his wealth, a pattern demonstrated when he purchased the Tiger-Cats from an ailing Harold Ballard for $500,000, financed with proceeds from the team’s five-year sponsorship agreement with Player’s Tobacco.

That frugality was legendary in the CFL. Despite his wealth, Braley was known to be reluctant to spend on what he considered unnecessary frills for his teams and the league.

His views on the business of the CFL were rooted in traditional approaches to marketing and selling tickets, and he privately railed against the league putting every game on television, favouring blackouts because he believed it would mean better business at the turnstiles.

He had waxed about selling the Lions for at least a decade, engaging with different groups of potential owners but always deciding either the timing or the group itself and what it was willing to pay for the team wasn’t right.

That seemed to do the franchise no favours as he continued to hang on as both his own health and that of his franchise was slipping.

Though the belief in Vancouver is that any Lions business turnaround has to start with new ownership, Braley’s ownership has been viewed as a safety net for the franchise during the pandemic, given his willingness to financially stabilize the franchise.

He was believed to be among the owners who were willing to play a shortened 2020 season, even without government support.

Braley in so many ways symbolized the past 30 years of the CFL: rooted in tradition, dependent on philanthropy and run by a powerful few.

There will never be another like him.

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