In this edition of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll share news of two recent young defensemen’s signings with the team (Travis Dermott and Ben Finkelstein). I’ll also share a recently revealed note that Wayne Simmonds’ two-year contract that he signed last week with the team contains a limited No Trade Clause, which is a bit of a surprise.
Item One: Travis Dermott Signs Two-Year Contract Extension
Earlier this week, the Maple Leafs signed defenseman Travis Dermott to a two-year, $3-million contract extension. Dermott would have become a restricted free agent later this month. His one-year contract at $874,125 will expire this month. I have to wonder if this contract has any impact on Dermott’s possible selection by the Seattle Kraken in this month’s expansion draft.
Although the contract calls for his salary to nearly double (to an average $1.5 million), Dermott would likely have received more on the open market. Still, it’s a nice increase over the deal he had. Last season was supposed to be a “show-me” deal; but, during the 51 games Dermott played in 2020-21, he scored only two goals and four assists. However, he did play more or less regularly, and averaged over 13 minutes of ice time each game.
Item Two: Defenseman Ben Finkelstein Has Signed a One-Year Contract with the Toronto Marlies
Because the AHL Toronto Marlies are the primary developer of Maple Leafs players, it’s always fun to see who’s signed by that team. There’s a great chance these players could eventually join the Maple Leafs’ roster. In fact, at the end of the 2020-21 regular season, nine former-Marlies players (Adam Brooks, Travis Dermott, Pierre Engvall, Justin Holl, Mac Hollowell, Zach Hyman, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly and Rasmus Sandin) were on the big team’s roster.
So, in recent news the AHL team has signed young defenseman Ben Finkelstein from the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits. In his first professional season in 2020-21, Finkelstein scored 11 goals and 21 assists (for 32 points) in 35 games for the Swamp Rabbits. The smallish, offensively-minded 23-year-old will likely play either with the Marlies or in Newfoundland for the Leafs ECHL team in 2021-22.
Five years ago, the Florida Panthers drafted Finkelstein in the seventh round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, but he didn’t sign with that team. Instead, he played two NCAA seasons with St. Lawrence University (from 2016 to 2018).
At the end of the 2017-18 season, with his NCAA season over, he moved on to finish the season playing for the Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL). With Waterloo, he scored eight goals and 26 assists (for 34 points) in 23 games. There he was named Defenseman of the Year and selected to the First All-Star Team. In 2019-20, he helped Boston College win the NCAA (Hockey East) Regular Season Championship where he was chosen to the NCAA (Hockey East) Second All-Star Team.
Item Three: Wayne Simmonds’ 2021-22 Contract Will Contain a Limited No-Trade Clause (NYC)
In a bit of a surprise move, because it means the Maple Leafs will have to protect him during the July 21 Kraken expansion draft, it was announced that the two-year contract Wayne Simmonds signed with the team last week (where he took a pay cut of $600,000 each season) will contain a NTC. That NTC ensures that Simmonds will stay in his hometown of Toronto for at least one full season.
Simmonds will likely skate on the team’s bottom-six; however, if he can start next season like he started the 2020-21 season, he’ll also get power play time because he takes up a lot of space in front of the opponent’s net. Sadly, last season a broken wrist limited his playing time and scoring; however, he could provide double-digit secondary scoring to the team and perhaps even reach 25 points during the season.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The biggest rumor stirring around is that the Edmonton Oilers really covet Zach Hyman and might be trying to trade for his negotiating rights. Nothing much has been confirmed on that front, but there is some smoke about that possibility.
Hyman’s landing place has been a constant source of chatter since the Maple Leafs were ousted from the Stanley Cup playoffs. Obviously, most Maple Leafs’ fans care about what happens to Hyman, who’s a fan favorite. And, the clock is ticking. We might all know within the next three weeks.
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf