It is widely known that the weakest spot on the Maple Leafs is defense, and more specifically, the glaring hole on the right side beside Morgan Rielly. While Hainsey did and admirable job filling in most the season, it was apparent that he was being over worked and looked completely gassed the last quarter of the season. I would love for the Leaf’s to make a splash this off season and trade for a defenseman who can play on the top pair. While we all want the Drew Doughty’s and Erik Karlsson’s of the world, I’m going to try and be a little more realistic here.
Tanev is a player I have wanted ever since I saw him paired up with Morgan Rielly at the World Championship to form a dominant top pair. The two seemed like a match made in heaven and I could see it translating very well in the NHL. Tanev is an elite defensive defenseman with shot suppression statistics to back it up. His job isn’t to score points, but he can leave that to Rielly. The biggest risk here is that he is very injury prone, and it’s very unlikely to get a full season out of him at this point. But if he can stay healthy, there’s no doubt he could slide into the Leaf’s top pair. He shouldn’t be too expensive to acquire as the injuries have lowered his trade value.
Jacob Trouba/Tyler Myers
The Jet’s are soon to be very tight against the cap, and I believe they might be able to retain only 1 of these right side defensemen. Trouba is the superior player here and certainly their priority of who to keep, but it has been reported in the past that Trouba was not happy with his deployment in Winnipeg and rumours of trade requests were swirling around for a while. He is a very good two-way defenseman arguably as good as Rielly, and would give the Leaf’s a big shot from the point, which they desperately need in my opinion. If the Jet’s manage to re-sign Trouba, it could mean the end for Tyler Myers, and this behemoth of a man is still young with loads of potential. While he hasn’t lived up to his draft season hype, he would be a welcome addition.
Here is a defender who doesn’t get enough love, and it’s because he plays for Carolina. He’s only 23, played on the top pair with Slavin this year, and already has some impressive advanced stats. He gets a bit overshadowed by the Hurricanes other defenders Faulk, Slavin, and Hanifin. But make no mistake, he is every bit as good or better than all of them. Bob McKenzie recently reported that every player not named Aho is available for trade – could be a great opportunity to pick up a player like Pesce. Similar to Tanev he is amazing defensively, but younger and more upside.