The Leafs need a defenseman, the Red Wings need picks and prospects. The deal writes itself, doesnt it? Kyle Dubas should be all over Detroit’s minute-soaking D-man Nick Jensen.
He isn’t the elite, top tier guy like Jake Muzzin was, but Detroit’s Nick Jensen could be the player Toronto look to bring in to solidify their back end for the playoff push.
The 28-year-old defenseman is a right shot, which is enough of a buzz word around Leafs nation to make the majority of us salivate. Beyond that, Jensen has been a solid 20+ minute defender all season long. Jensen has risen up the Detroit lineup, earning first pairing minutes alongside Danny DeKeyser on the Wings’ top pair.
With a mere 15 points this season, 2 goals and 13 assists, Jensen is more of a stay at home responsible defender. With the young, quick attack that Detroit boasts, Jensen has the experience to play behind a fast-paced attack, much like the Leafs forwards.
Jensen’s decision making and defensive capabilities are the most attractive attributes the incumbent offers (other than that beautiful right handed shot). It’s the reason he’s a +1 on a team that is -31 on goal differential, and its the reason Jensen is currently being looked at by playoff teams like Toronto.
For the Leafs, Jensen would just be an insurance player to solidify their defensive core. Mike Babcock seems to put his line combinations, defensemen included, into a blender nightly and Jensen could essentially become the second coming of Ron Hainsey, albeit 9 years younger.
Furthermore, with Hainsey’s contract coming to an end after this season, and Jensen a pending free agent, Toronto could be looking at Jensen as Hainsey’s successor. He’s currently on a cap friendly $825,000 salary and is due for a mild increase, which would still make him a cost-effective option to replace Hainsey.
Can the Leafs justify a move?
The two biggest inhibitors to Jensen’s proposed move to Toronto are other teams hunting for depth d-men, and the Red Wings. Detroit wants to resign their drafted and developed defender, but the pull to play for a contender at his age (28) could prove too much as Detroit’s rebuild is still close to it’s beginning than it’s end.
Outside of his current team, it seems like Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Boston, Chicago, and even the Islanders could be in the market to add a bit-piece player like Jensen to help bolster their team for the playoff push and beyond.
For the Leafs, the asking price is do-able, a 2/3rd pick. Should the Leafs resign Jensen the deal changes from a deadline move to a depth roster trade for now and the future. Toronto could get away with this rental if Jensen fits into their team moving forward, removing the stigma of a rental and turning a trade deadline move into a long-term addition.