Well, there’s the “buy” we were looking for.
Today, the Leafs acquired veteran centre Tomas Plekanec from their Montreal Canadiens, sending out Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel, and a second-round draft pick while also picking up Kyle Baun along the way. The trade was officially announced via the Leafs PR twitter account:
The @MapleLeafs announced that the hockey club has acquired forwards Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun from the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel and Toronto’s second round draft pick in 2018.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 25, 2018
Instant reaction: In a jammed pipeline, neither Rychel nor Valiev had much future in Toronto. While they might have NHL upside, there’s no room for them to bump anyone out of the current lineup, and might get an opportunity to develop in Montreal. Either way, they’re not needle-pushers and without any real high ceiling on either prospect, this trade doesn’t really have potential to come back to bite the Leafs. The second-round pick see the Leafs lose an asset, but as they’ve got San Jose’s pick from uh, the Roman Polak trade a few years back, it’s not like they’re going to come out of the second round completely dry.
Meanwhile, Plekanec adds some depth to the Leafs’ fourth line and is an upgrade on Dominic Moore, who likely finds himself on the outs of the lineup from here on out. Plekanec, who’s been in the Habs organization since the 2001 draft, is a seven-time 20 goal scorer and has registered six goals and 18 assists while playing in the Canadiens’ bottom-six this season. A UFA this offseason, he’s taking up just $3 of his 6 million cap hit due to the fact Montreal is retaining 50% of his salary.
Habs retain 50 percent of Plekanec's remaining salary/cap hit in the trade to Toronto
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) February 25, 2018
It’s hard to really see Baun as anything other than a contract swap. He’s played just five NHL games in his career at age 25, and his AHL numbers this year (16 points in 54 games) don’t exactly scream
Here’s the first look at Tomas in Toronto.
Plekanec in a Leafs uniform. pic.twitter.com/YR9rVd2JzB
— Matty Go Sens (@Gerv_Rebrand) February 25, 2018