There seems to be two type of Leaf fans these days.
One group of fans is patient, embracing the slow building process while also acknowledging the fine tuning that needs to take place over time, while the other group is more aggressive. Sparked by the play of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Willie Nylander and the rest of the Leafs young core, these fans are ready for the Leafs to propel forward and start to contend in the short-term future.
Lots of bickering takes place between these two types of fans, but what’s forgotten is that there are moves that can be made that could satisfy both types of fans. The Leafs need another top-four defender to add to their back end and they may want to explore the trade market to fill that void. How about a young up-and-comer that could grow with the Leafs young ‘D’ core, along with being able to contribute right away?
Who fits that criteria? Minnesota Wild defenceman Jonas Brodin sure does.
Brodin, the Wild’s first-round pick in 2011, is no stranger to the rumour mill as his name popped up periodically around last summer’s draft. Due to this upcoming June’s expansion draft, Brodin may find himself on the trade block once the offseason rolls around. The Wild are likely to protect 7 forwards, 3 defenceman and a goaltender at the expansion draft and if that’s the case, Brodin could be the odd man out and be left unprotected.
If the Wild aren’t pleased with the idea of losing Brodin for nothing, they may seek to trade him. The Leafs could be the perfect trading partner.
Now, why would the Leafs want to trade for Jonas Brodin?
Brodin may not be the hulking shut-down defenceman that many envision the Leafs acquiring, but he could still do wonders to the Leafs blue-line. Brodin is a left-handed shot that’s smooth skating and puck moving ability would fit alongside Jake Gardiner quite well. Brodin has played on his off handiness before and you’d have to think he’d play on the right side if he were to join the Leafs.
Jonas Brodin has 13 points in 29 games. His career-high is 19 points in 79 games (he had 7 points in 68 games last season)#mnwild
— Michael Russo (@Russostrib) December 16, 2016
What makes Brodin such an intriguing option is his age. He’s 23 years old and still has work to do to become a top-pairing defender. But as it stands now, he’s still a viable top-four defender. If the Leafs were to acquire Brodin, not only would they be building for the future by acquiring a potential future top-pairing defender, but they’d be helping themselves in the short term as well.
There’s two types of deals that could land Brodin in Toronto.
The Leafs have an abundance of young players and prospects that could be assembled to make up a deal. Players like Brendan Leipsic, Kasperi Kapanen or Connor Brown could be in play. Package one of those players with another prospect and a high draft pick, the Wild could bite on that kind of deal. The thinking from the Wild’s end could be to acquire more young talent ( preferably talent that’s exempt from the expansion draft process) to mesh with their relatively older roster.
If the Wild are set on contending sooner rather than later, they could pursue a deal centred around someone like James Van Riemsdyk, who has gained some traction on the trade market as of late.
What if the Leafs back end looked something like this in a couple of years..
Morgan Reilly – Nikita Zaitsev
Jake Gardiner – Jonas Brodin
Andrew Nielsen – Connor Carrick
Brodin could help round out an extraordinary, young and skilled back end that could lead the Leafs for the next 5-10 years. The Leafs have the assets to acquire Brodin and the Wild are in a position where they may have to deal Brodin due to the complicated expansion draft process. If Minnesota puts Jonas Brodin on the block anytime soon,
Toronto should pick up the phone right away.