Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Leafs Trade Franson, Santorelli to Predators for First-Round Pick, Prospect

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Leafs Trade Franson, Santorelli to Predators for First-Round Pick, Prospect

Article excerpt

Leafs trade Franson, Santorelli to Predators

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Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli are gone, and the rebuilding of the Toronto Maple Leafs is underway.

The Leafs got a jump-start on trade frenzy two weeks before the March 2 deadline by sending Franson and Santorelli to the Nashville Predators for a first-round pick, forward prospect Brendan Leipsic and soon-to-be-free-agent centre Olli Jokinen. The offensive defenceman and versatile forward were set to be unrestricted free agents, and dealing them was the first inevitable step toward re-shaping the roster.

"We felt that we couldn't risk not getting something for them in the event that we couldn't re-sign them," general manager Dave Nonis said on a conference call Sunday. "It was important that we got some assets back. ... We feel that the pieces we got are good, they're quality pieces."

In exchange for their biggest trade chip, Franson, and Santorelli, who made the most of his one-year audition in Toronto, the Leafs get what's expected to be a late first-round pick and a young player in the 20-year-old Leipsic. The 36-year-old Jokinen could be flipped again to a contender.

The reeling Leafs are no longer that, 4-20-2 in their past 26 games and with a better chance of drafting first overall than making the playoffs. By March 2, pending free-agent forwards Daniel Winnik and David Booth could also get dealt, along with Jokinen and maybe others.

In Franson and Santorelli, Nonis chose to act quickly to maximize his return for two players who weren't coming back. Neither player was close to an extension, with Franson in particular on course for a big July 1 pay day.

"They talked about (contract) numbers that weren't necessarily outrageous given the market, but it just didn't fit for us at this point," Nonis said.

With 82 points, Nashville is atop the league, so the 2015 first-round pick is expected to be a late one, depending on the playoffs. In Leipsic, a 20-year-old Winnipeg, Man., native, the Leafs get a 2012 third-rounder to begin re-stocking on prospects. …

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