Kyle Dubas made a few minor league deals on trade deadline day, but with elite help coming to the blueline, the Leafs have all but ensured they’re in for a summer blockbuster to shake up the roster.
Disclaimer: The proposed trade has no substantiation, however seeing as how the Leafs are cap-crunched, this move would help alleviate pressure and spread cap money out, as well. Also, a playoff push and post-season performance could quell all this talk.
To Toronto: Drew Doughty (2m retained), Adrian Kempe
To LA: Mitch Marner, 3rd round pick.
*a third team and deeper draft picks may come into play regarding cap/retained money
Why this trade makes sense for Toronto:
The team is heavily lopsided on top-6 offensive talent. They have also invested wisely in Alex Kerfoot ($3.5m), Kasperi Kapanen ($3.2m), and Andreas Johnsson ($3.4m) to immediately impact their center and wing depth. Mix in Adrian Kempe, a player who brings more skill and physicality to the ice and you have a solid core to make Marner’s loss feel less impactful.
As well, Egor Korshkov, Pierre Engvall, Jeremy Bracco, and the likely re-signed Ilya Mikheyev will all factor into the future of the Leafs winger depth, bringing youth and skill.
Mitch Marner is a generational talent and a hometown kid who has immense skill and vision on the ice. Why would Toronto want to get rid of him? Well, they wouldn’t, but when you include the addition of proven winner and leader (not to mention right-shot D) Drew Doughty, things change.
Doughty brings a lot of what Toronto is lacking on the back end and would be the perfect partner for Morgan Rielly, now and after he signs a long-term extension. He is 30, which gives pause considering his $11m cap hit extends through 2025, but elite defenseman can be serviceable into their mid to late 30s and beyond.
The case for LA:
Defence may win championships, but offence fills the seats. The hockey following in LA is pretty huge and loyal, but after a few seasons of underperforming, playoff-missing hockey hurts a team in a market that has multiple NFL teams, NBA teams, and MLB teams. Bringing a talent like Marner to the West Coast could kick start a rebuild for the Kings in a regressing Pacific division.
With Dustin Brown and Jeff Carter eating up over $11m of caps space and both players sitting at 35-years-old, there could be a pending retirement (likely for Brown over Carter) in the next few seasons which would free up some substantial cap space to make the retention as well as large Marner cap hit fit with total ease.
With Anaheim and San Jose both not looking all too exciting, LA has could springboard forward with the Marner acquisition by sacrificing their captain for his offensive pop. Doughty brings an edge to Toronto, Marner brings excitement to LA. Win-win, right?