This trade comes as the Maple Leafs have been rumoured to be in on numerous defenses to help shore up the backend. Adding Ilya Lyubushkin allows Dubas and the management group to potentially part ways with a defenceman on their rosters, such as Justin Holl or Travis Dermott. Lyubushkin also adds defensive stability on the backend and some more physicality heading down the final stretch and into the playoffs. The Maple Leafs also receive Ryan Dzingel as a depth player, who can slot in throughout the lineup, and fill different roles on the team. He also could be a player who could be flipped in another trade as the deadline approaches.
Nick Ritchie is the player going the other way to the Arizona Coyotes, Nick Ritchie’s time here was awful, to say the least, and I’m sure for both sides, they are glad it has come to an end. Joining him in the trade is a conditional pick, either the 2023 3rd round pick or the 2025 2nd round. There had been some rumours that finding a trading partner for Ritchie’s contract was going to be hard, but the Coyotes agreed to take on the entirety of the contract, with no retention.
As the Maple Leafs gear up for a long playoff run, this type of trade can be a difference-maker in terms of the next steps, as we near the deadline. The addition of Lyubushkin and Dzingel gives the team flexibility to potentially move out a player with a bigger contract. Lyubushkin is a right-handed defenceman, who can take on PK responsibilities, and late-game situations when they need to defend the lead. It appears based on rumours surrounding the team that this isn’t going to be the only defenceman brought in, to help solve patch some holes on the backend. Adding Dzingel into the deal could potentially mean that there could be a player in the bottom six, who could be moved as well to improve the team, and their chances to win the Stanley Cup.
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