The trade whispers have started and according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to add a winger. More specifically, a winger who can play anywhere in the team’s top nine.
Before looking at who the Leafs could be targeting, we have to wonder if quarantine will make or break a possible trade. If Toronto wants a player who will help them right away, then they will trade within the North Division. If time is not a factor and they don’t mind waiting for a player to quarantine before joining the team, then any team is a possible trade partner.
Let’s look at two possible deals the Leafs could make; one with a team from within the North Division and one from outside the division. Due to limited salary cap space, any deal Toronto makes will have to be close. The money going out will need to be at or above what is coming back.
The main reason the Leafs are interested in acquiring a winger is the fact that Wayne Simmonds will be out for 6-8 weeks with a broken wrist. Current players on the team like Pierre Engvall, Jimmy Vesey, or Alexander Barabanov do not have what it takes to fill in for Simmonds.
Trade Partner #1: Detroit Red Wings
If the Maple Leafs are more interested in replacing the offense that Simmonds was supplying than the grit, then Detroit has just the player they’re looking for. That player is veteran forward Bobby Ryan.
Ryan checks off most of the boxes for what Toronto general manager Kyle Dubas is looking for. He can play anywhere in the top nine. He also has a low salary cap hit of $1 million that expires at the end of this season. Ryan can help on the Leafs power-play which is first in the NHL but is missing Simmonds. He also offers veteran leadership both off and on the ice.
Back in November of 2019, Ryan took a leave of absence from the Ottawa Senators to begin treatment for his alcohol addiction. While still in recovery, Ryan returned to the Senators lineup on February 27th, 2020. He scored a hat trick that night and fought back tears as fans began chanting “BOBBY” repeatedly.
It looked like the Bobby Ryan of years past had returned and recaptured his scoring touch. Unfortunately, the season would soon be canceled and Ryan would finish with just eight points in 24 games.
Fast forward to this season and Ryan is now a member of the Detroit Red Wings. The 33-year-old has eight points in his first 15 games. He is averaging over 16 minutes a game and plays on Detroit’s number one power-play.
Bobby Ryan would be a fantastic addition to this year’s Maple Leafs team.
Trade Partner #2: Winnipeg Jets
A trade would be easier for Toronto if it was done within the North Division and the Winnipeg Jets are. The Jets also have a player that Toronto was interested in during free agency in the offseason and that player is Trevor Lewis.
If the Maple Leafs are not worried about their offense and are more interested in a winger who is good defensively, they will get that with Lewis. His work ethic and ability to win puck battles will remind Toronto fans of Zach Hyman.
Lewis would offer the Leafs a better 3rd or 4th line option than some of the players they are currently using. A major plus for Toronto is that Lewis has a salary cap hit of just $750,000 which makes trading for him much easier.
Just like Bobby Ryan, Lewis has a low salary cap hit and is a free agent after this season. Another good thing for the Leafs is they would not have to overpay in a deal to get Lewis.
If the Maple Leafs are looking for offense then Bobby Ryan would be a fantastic addition. His cap hit is higher than Lewis and so is his production, so Toronto would have to give up more in a deal for Ryan.
If the Leafs are looking to add another player who makes the team harder to play against then Lewis fits into that category. Toronto could trade for Lewis without giving up a lot in return. That would be another win for Kyle Dubas and the Leafs.
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