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Trade Deadline Targets: Toronto Maple Leafs

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Recently, the Toronto Maple Leafs have shown that their defensive game is lacking, and with the NHL trade deadline in just under two months’ time, we are going to look at some of the options that they could look to acquire, and whom they could potentially part with. It has been said that a team that is preparing for a long playoff run to win the Stanley Cup, should have seven to eight quality defence, as well as a few extra forwards that can jump in when they are needed. This team has a list of forwards that can step into the lineup upfront and play but does that change when it is game seven of the conference finals and the Maple Leafs are less than five minutes away from the cup finals?

Trade Targets

John Klingberg (Dallas Stars)

At 29 years old, the right-handed defenceman makes $4.25 million and is set to become a UFA (Unrestricted Free Agent) this coming offseason, He is a good offensive defenceman who has fallen into some hard times with the Dallas Stars, He would slot in nicely on the top pairing with Morgan Rielly, or on the 2nd pairing with Jake Muzzin, which would allow the Maple Leafs to carry an offensive and defensive-minded player on each of their top two pairings. Keeping in mind the asking price for a player like Klingberg and his cap hit, Kyle Dubas and the rest of the management would need to be optimistic that he is going to produce here, or else the trade could result in one that is talked about for years to come.

Luke Schenn (Vancouver Canucks)

Luke Schenn was drafted by the Maple Leafs in 2008 with the 5th pick, and now he could be an option that the team thinks about bringing in for depth. He isn’t a stranger to the role of a depth defenceman, after winning back-to-back cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning, he could be a guy who can play a shutdown role when it matters most. At 32 years of age, he carries a cap hit of $850,000 for the remainder of the season as well as next season. Schenn could be used in a similar situation as Zach Bogosian was last season, providing a veteran presence to the last pairing, and stability that the last pairing has not had regularly since Bogosian left. He is also a guy who isn’t afraid to throw his weight around, and get into scrums, which is another thing that most of the defence lacks, especially in the playoffs.

Lawson Crouse (Arizona Coyotes)

A 6’4”, 220 pounds left winger on a team that is focused on drafting in years to come, Lawson Crouse is a near-perfect fit for the Maple Leafs. His cap hit is minimal at $1.5 million for the remainder of the season and could be retained at a small price for the next couple of seasons. Currently, he has 20 points through 37 games playing in an elevated role with the Arizona Coyotes, you can expect his role to change if he is acquired at the deadline by the Maple Leafs, into a bottom-six player who can produce and shut down the other team. To get a deal done for a player like him, the asking price is affordable, and something the Maple Leafs part with to make their team deeper

Anton Forsberg (Ottawa Senators)

Anton Forsberg is a traditional backup goalie in the NHL who has found some success and confidence with the Ottawa Senators. He was passed around last season via waivers and is now in a situation where the Senators could get a return on him as a rental. His fit with Toronto would be like David Rittich’s was last season, down the stretch giving the main two goalies a break to gear up for the playoffs. Petr Mrazek and Jack Campbell have both had a history of injuries in their careers, so acquiring another backup that gives your team a chance is ideal, especially for the playoff push the team is preparing for. The other advantage about Forsberg is, he is on a cheap deal that is set to expire, and with Campbell’s deal set to expire as well, the Maple Leafs could make Mrazek available via trade in the offseason and use the money to sign Forsberg and put more towards locking up Campbell.

On the Block

Travis Dermott

Travis Dermott’s time with the Maple Leafs has run its course. Drafted in the 2015 NHL entry draft, he has shown the reason why he dropped from a 1st round talent to a 2nd, that being lack of consistency. There were a few bright spots in the last couple of seasons but with the Leafs trying to make a push in the playoffs and needing to add a penalty specialist on the backend his time appears to be coming to an end. Although Dermott will not be able to fetch a lot on the open market, he could be an added piece in a trade to improve their backend or depth forward. His contract albeit small could be dumped to free up cap space.

Nick Ritchie

Nick Ritchie hasn’t found his footing in his time with the Maple Leafs, with only 9 points in 33 games, and is a -6. He has struggled and found himself on waivers without being claimed by another team he finds himself on the outside looking in. He carries a significant cap hit at $2.5 million for the remainder of this year and next. Ritchie’s trade value is at an all-time low, in fact so low that the Maple Leafs may need to add a pick just to trade his contract for cap space. There could be a scenario that occurs where he is dealt in a package deal, and that team is willing to take on the contract and either buy him out or keep him next year and see if they can swap him at the deadline, however that seems too good to be true.

Timothy Liljegren

Timothy Liljegren is a piece in the Maple Leaf’s organization that can be expendable, although he is young and still developing his game at the NHL level, he could be the main piece in a trade to upgrade their backend. A name that comes to mind when thinking about a trade that could see him going the other way is, John Klingberg only if he has a contract extension in place upon the completion of the trade. The trade is unlikely to happen if it is only as a rental deal. Dallas is potentially going to be seeking assets to help their team in the next couple of years, as it looks, they could be heading for a rebuild shortly, and Liljegren is a right-handed defence that has great upside. As we all know GM Kyle Dubas has been high on both Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin, but if the price is right and helps the team battle for the Cup, then it could be a name that could be moved.

Justin Holl

Justin Holl who carries a cap hit of $2 million is in a unique spot with the Maple Leafs this season, over his time with the team he has been a shutdown defenceman with Jake Muzzin, and well this season they have been awful. Individually, he hasn’t been as good as he has in past years and that resulted in him being a healthy scratch for a small stretch of games earlier this season. Since then, his name has come up in rumours that the team is shopping him and has been on some insider’s trade bait boards. Personally, I would move Holl out, and try and bring in someone who is more consistent on defence, a player like Luke Schenn, who doesn’t get lost in the play and doesn’t clear his own goalie out of the crease.

Trade Proposals

These trade proposals below are my own opinion; it is also important to note that there is no Salary Cap in the playoffs. This means that the Maple Leafs can juggle the cap, by moving players from the Taxi Squad to the NHL team from the deadline to the start of playoffs to be cap compliant, then they can run the best lineup while battling for the cup. These trades are ideas that the team could potentially think about, based on asking prices that have been circling, as well as what I feel each player is worth. It is also worth noting that I do not expect the team to complete all these deals, and part ways with players who helped them get this far on the season. However, I feel that these trades individually can improve their roster.

John Klingberg Trade *Must sign an extension with Maple Leafs for trade to happen*

Toronto Maple Leafs:

  • John Klingberg: RHD ($4,250,000 x 1 year, UFA)
  • Blake Comeau: LW/RW ($1,000,000 x 1 year, UFA) * Taxi Squad *

Dallas Stars:

  • Timothy Liljegren: RHD ($863,333 x 1 year, RFA)
  • 2022 2nd Round Pick
  • 2024 3rd Round Pick * Conditional * (If Leafs make conference finals, it becomes a 2nd Round Pick in 2023)
  • Justin Holl: RHD ($2,000,000 x 2 years) *Modified No-Trade Clause* (10 team)
  • Nick Ritchie: LW ($2,500,000 x 2 years) * Salary Dump *

Luke Schenn Trade:

Toronto Maple Leafs:

  • Luke Schenn: RHD ($850,000 x 2 years)

Vancouver Canucks:

Lawson Crouse Trade:

Toronto Maple Leafs:

  • Lawson Crouse: LW ($1,533,333 x 1 year, UFA)
  • Liam O’Brien: LW/C ($750,000) * Taxi Squad *

Arizona Coyotes:

  • Nick Ritchie: LW ($2,500,000 x 2 years)
  • Brett Seney: LW/C ($750,000 x 1 year, UFA)
  • 2023 3rd Round Pick

Anton Forsberg Trade:

Toronto Maple Leafs:

Ottawa Senators:

  • Travis Dermott: LHD ($1,500,000 x 2 years)
  • Michael Hutchinson: G ($725,000 x 1 year, UFA)
  • 2023 5th Round Pick

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