Shawn Matthias is a guy who’s just kind of on a pro roster – he’s never really stood out. As an NHL regular since the 09-10 season, Matthias peaked last season with an 18-goal, 27-point season in Vancouver. Mostly a bottom-six forward with the Leafs, his 1.50 points/60 ranks 5th at 5-on-5 among Leafs players.
On a one-year, $2.3 million deal, Matthias makes sense to move out for some sort of asset, but it’s likely there will be some kind of dump coming back the other way with a pick or a prospect.
While a player like Matthias won’t make a major impact on any team, his marginal improvements over certain players might provide that extra push in the playoff hunt and he’s got some usefulness as a rental player.
In no particular order, here are five teams who might want to take a gander on picking up Matthias…
The San Jose Sharks
In a tight Pacific Division, San Jose’s looking for some depth scoring, and Matthias fits the bill if used in the right role.
Remember former Leafs cult hero Mike Brown? Playing with the Leafs for part of three seasons, he’s on the second year of a two-year deal worth $1.2 million per season. However, if you also remember Mike Brown, he’s not exactly a point grabber, picking up a grand total of 3 points in 48 games.
Matthias makes more sense for the Sharks as they make a playoff push, but they’re unlikely to part with any decent prospects for a guy who’s an average-at-best rental, which is more likely.
Potential Trade Pieces: 2016 second and fourth round picks
Potential Salary Dumps: Mike Brown
The Boston Bruins
In-division trading is sometimes frowned upon, but there’s no shame when the teams are in separate places in their existence. While not the big, scary Bruins from a few years back, there’s still playoff hope in Boston this year.
Chris Kelly at $2.5 million and an expiring deal would be a good fit in an equal Matthias swap, except for the fact he’s currently nursing a broken leg. Boston features five UFA’s and seven RFA contracts to sign this summer, which will prove problematic come the offseason. While acquiring Matthias’ contract won’t help the Bruins in this situation, the team sees five of their eight main defencemen on expiring deals. Torey Krug is more likely to be in the long-term plans of the organization, but they may try to move one of their RFA deals in order to make space for his contract.
Potential Trade Pieces: Joe Morrow, Colin Miller, Zach Trotman
Potential Salary Dumps: Zac Rinaldo? (1 more year, $850K)
The Dallas Stars
While it might sound weird that a team averaging over three goals a game need to add more offence, nothing’s a given come playoff time. Whether GM Jim Nill sees Matthias as an option is one thing, but it’s possible he’s looking to upgrade on a few players.
A name that stands out that they’d be looking to move is Travis Moen, who’s picked up just 2 assists in 15 games on the team’s fourth line. On an expiring $1.8 UFA deal, Moen’s time in the NHL seems to be expiring as well. Potentially a key contributor to the Leafs’ tanking efforts later this year, Moen coupled with one of the Stars’ many picks could be beneficial to both sides.
Potential Trade Pieces: Stars third, fourth round 2016 picks.
Potential Salary Dumps: Travis Moen
Phoenix Arizona Coyotes
While you’re not getting Max Domi, perhaps the Leafs will be able to grab a decent Arizona prospect coming the other way as the team tries to make a playoff push. Sitting currently two points out of a playoff spot, Arizona’s likely to make a few moves as they look to shock a crowded Western Conference.
39-year old Shane Doan on an expiring $4.5 million deal isn’t likely going anywhere due to his longevity, but moving him for Matthias would clear some cap room and give the team a new identity.
In all honesty, a team that’s looking to make a create a buzz in what’s always a volatile existence- every playoff berth in the desert means that much more to a business who’s hoping fan support can stay despite constant relocation threats.
While it’s fun to look at prospect ceilings, it’s still always a gamble, and they may be looking to move a younger player.
19-year-old Conor Garland has lit up the QMJHL with 105 points in 47 games this year, but remains a question mark after being passed over in his first NHL draft and taken in the fifth round in 2015. Seen by most as a mid-end prospect, targeting a guy like Garland and forcing the Coyotes’ hand in a package could be a steal for the Leafs organization. If Garland’s future is fitting in as a bottom-six player in a few years, perhaps the Coyotes would rather have immediate bottom-six help right now.
Additionally, the Coyotes hold all of their picks, save for a 2016 third traded to the Rangers last year.
Potential Trade Pieces: Conor Garland, 2016 2nd round pick
Potential Salary Dumps: Steve Downie (expiring UFA, $1.7 million)
The Capitals of Washington
Ah yes, the league leaders. Not looking to move an Alex Ovechkin or a Niklas Backstrom or even an Evgeny Kuznetsov, this team is still using brief Leaf Zach Sill at the NHL level.
Perhaps a reunion to the blue-and-white is in the cards?
Another name that comes out is Brooks Laich, who’s putting up $4.5 million despite horrendous production in a bottom-six role. An ugly, ugly contract, but one that expires next season and perhaps could be packaged with a nice pick with some salary retained. The Capitals second, fourth, and fifth-round picks are still in play and are all likely going to be later rather than earlier in the rounds. Having Laich around makes sense as a guy with NHL-experience for another year of the tank, but there’s reason to believe this might be the last year the Leafs are near the basement as they may look to be a bubble team next season.
Potential Trade Pieces: Second, fourth, fifth round picks.
Potential Salary Dumps: Zach Sill, Brooks Laich ($4.5 million, expiring after 2016-17)