The Toronto Maple Leafs are a little too light when it comes to physical presence. Targeting the Anaheim Ducks’ Josh Manson would significantly fill that void.
The best of both worlds? The Leaf fans seem to be stuck between two ideologies: old school size and physicality vs. new school skill, stats, and speed. Josh Manson appeases both sides of this argument.
Why is he available?
Because the Ducks suck.
But honestly, they do and it’s the reason the likes of Josh Manson will be available for the right price. With an aging core lead by Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, and Ryan Kesler, the Ducks are too old and slow to make the playoff race close.
Manson’s age, 27, and contract, $4.1 million for three more seasons after 18/19 makes him attractive for teams in a cap crunch. The Leafs are one of those teams, but $4.1m locks in Manson on their top-pair and replaces Gardiner when his contract expires at the end of the year.
The Ducks need to retool their team around their sub-30 core, but to do so they’ll need to stockpile some picks and prospects. Manson is worth a heavy return from the Leafs.
The package from the Leafs?
It’s going to have to be pretty substantial, let’s be honest. With Manson just 27 years old and under a solid value contract for three more seasons the Leaf’s are looking at picks, players, and prospects.
I previously wrote about the Leaf’s and their interest in Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. While that deal would be fun, Manson is a far better fit and is much more needed by the Leafs. It would have to be one or the other.
To Toronto: Josh Manson, Nick Ritchie
To Anaheim: Nikita Zaitsev, Connor Brown, Calle Rosen, Dymtro Timashov, 2019 4th rd. pick, 2020 1st rd. pick
This deal meets three massive needs for Toronto: Manson’s right shot to play with Reilly, Zaitsev’s contract moved, and Nick Ritchie’s physical presence.
The inclusion of Ritchie is probably surprising, but after taking him to arbitration over 700k last offseason I wouldn’t be surprised if the Ducks are ready to move on from him, and he from them. Brown would be his replacement for the Ducks, trading speed for size.
Anaheim gets back a defenseman who is under 30, Connor Brown who adds more speed in Ritchie’s place, a solid offensive prospect in Timashov, an offensively talented defender in Rosen, and another pick this season, plus Toronto’s first rounder next season.
Why it works for Toronto
It would hurt for the Leafs to pass up their first round pick, but realistically if they got Manson their top-6 defensemen. Rosen is expendable with Liljegren, Sandin, Ozhiganhov, and Holl on the roster, as well.
Dubas also stated he wouldn’t sell the farm for a rental, and Manson’s contract control ensures he wouldn’t be a rental. With the size of both him and Ritchie, along with their skill, Dubas could transform the team with this type of move.
It may be a long shot, but the Leafs’s can shed about $2 million in cap space, move on from Gardiner’s impending pay-raise, plug holes with their minor leaguers, and get bigger and better in the process. It’s truly a win-win for both teams, as well as a blockbuster deal.