Leafs looking to trade forward depth for defensive help

Bob McKenzie was on TSN’s Insider Trading show today talking about Dougie Hamilton trade rumours, and how they’ve been connected to the Leafs so far. Here’s what he had to say:

From the Toronto Maple Leafs’ side of the equation – yes, they would like to move a winger at some point, for a defenseman. But, people are trying to connect the dots and say ‘well, if Dougie Hamilton’s available you’d have to trade William Nylander for that to happen’ and the fact of the matter is that the Leafs are not intent on trading William Nylander at all. What they do have is an incredible depth of wingers, and that’s why, part of the reason why, William Nylander’s on the fourth line, with Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen – they’ve got more wingers waiting that they believe are NHL ready. So, the logical name, at some point, whether it’s this season before the deadline, or next season, or the offseason, is James Van Riemsdyk.

Full video here.

In some circles, Van Riemsdyk’s name has been in trade talks since before the 2015 draft and it’s not surprising at all to see his name come up in new talks about the Leafs looking to acquire a defenseman.

Other less valuable names the Leafs will likely be shopping before JVR include Peter Holland and Josh Leivo, neither of whom have been able to find a spot in this roster so far this year.

The names for potential returns for JVR do include the above mentioned Dougie Hamilton, but also include the Jets’ Jacob Trouba (lots of rumours), the Ducks’ Simon Despres or Cam Fowler (cap issues), or even the Predators’ Matthias Ekholm or Ryan Ellis and the San Jose Sharks’ Justin Braun (expansion draft concerns). 

Van Riemsdyk is putting up an astronomical 3.23 P60 this year, and maintaining a positive Score-Adjusted relCF% (shot attempts relative to his team when he’s not on the ice) of +0.41. 

It will certainly interesting to see how the rumours bubble up around the trade deadline, and what names are still available for the Leafs to target.