The day is finally upon us. The NHL trade deadline is here! The question now shifts from “who will the Maple Leafs target” to “will the Leafs try and bring anyone in?”
This past week I explored some viable trade situations that suited Toronto’s needs in an effort to beef up for the playoffs. The first was a deal for the Leafs to acquire Chris Kreider of the New York Rangers. He brings skill and playoff experience to a team that doesn’t need that but could use it.
The second deal was a pretty massive blockbuster involving the Anaheim Ducks and their defenseman Josh Manson. Manson checks the boxes of being a right shot, physical, offensive, decent contract, and controllable for years to come. Plus, Anaheim needs to rebuild and could use the picks and prospects.
With the likelihood of blockbuster deals now passed Toronto at the deadline, the Leafs could target these three teams for their playoff push this season.
Not out of the playoff picture just yet, but also a little too far away to consider themselves shoe-ins, the Florida Panthers are in no-mans-land ahead of the deadline. Proactively, the team seems to have jumpstarted a retool and the Leaf’s could act as a trading partner with them in a mutually beneficial deal.
They’ve already traded Bjugstad and McCann to the Penguins for Brassard, Sheahan, a 2nd and two 4th, round picks signaling their ambition to step back this season and acquire assets. The Leafs, with limited cap space, are probably looking at pending UFA’s so there is a possibility.
Derek Brassard C: Adds a lot of playoff experience and provides center depth over Frederick Gauthier and Par Lindholm.
Riley Sheahan C: Another option for center depth with solid playoff experience, also was coached by Babcock.
Mark Pysyk D: Would have to be part of a bigger deal but is controllable next season and is a right shot D.
The Leaf’s eclipsed the Oilers in their dramatic, marquee franchise rebuilds and now the Oilers seem stuck in the mud. With massive shakeups behind the bench and in the front office, Edmonton could be a suitable trading partner for the Leafs.
The Oilers don’t believe they’re out of the playoff race and are trying to solidify their team the best they can. They have swapped goalies with Phili and recently re-acquired Sam Gagner. They’re buyers but how much are they willing to give up?
Players to look at:
Alex Petrovic D: Adds size and physicality on the back end and has the desired right shot. Added bonus that he’s cheap and a pending UFA.
Alex Chiasson RW: Big body on offense and is coming off of a Stanley Cup winning season with the Capitals. Pending UFA.
Ty Rattie RW: This one’s a bit odd, but he hasn’t fit the system(s) in Edmonton but is clearly talented. Connor Brown swap?
They’re too close to being “in it” to say they’re out. But, the Philadelphia Flyers have a lot of heavy lifting to do if they’re going to make the playoffs, and pending UFA’s on their team may force them to become sellers.
They’ve made two nothing deals this season so far, swapping goalies with Edmonton (Stolarz for Talbot), and trading Weise and Christian Folin for Byron Froese and David Schlemko. Perhaps they’re after more, better deals on deadline day.
Players who could be moved:
Wayne Simmonds LW/RW: He’s the Flyers’ big ticket to cash in, and would be a good fit for the Leafs with his skill and size. The cost may be far too much, however.
Micheal Raffl LW/RW: Versatile veteran who can chip in offensively. Has some solid playoff experience but may not be too attractive for the Leafs.
Radko Gudas D: Probably the most likely of the bunch, but is the reward worth the risk? Gudas has a short fuse and poor decision making, but he’s a physical beast and is a right shot D.
New Jersey Devils: Not in the race and have a few UFA’s like Marcus Johansson, and a few RS D like Santini and Gryba. Looks out for Mirco Muller too.
Carolina Hurricanes: We’ve all seen the links between the Leafs and Canes, but blockbusters are more likely in the offseason or at the draft.