The Leafs’ push for the playoffs is gearing up, with the trade deadline now officially under one week away.
In Ottawa, it could be the most important deadline in team history, as they figure out if they can navigate trading away yet another cornerstone piece or two and somehow come out on top this time. As we saw with the Mike Hoffman deal, Pierre Dorion and the Senators aren’t a huge fan of intradivisional trades, but we’ll throw in their names anyway because, well, they’ve got quite a huge package.
What do the Senators have to offer?
The most intriguing name is Matt Duchene.
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman…
Barring a massive swerve, Matt Duchene will be traded. There are undoubtedly more suitors than Columbus and Nashville, but they are the two most mentioned. I’m not convinced Winnipeg is interested at this time, and if I had to pick a stealth destination, I’d choose either Calgary or the Islanders.
Duchene is making just $6,000,000, which the Leafs could afford to fit in basically if they were able to send Connor Brown to Ottawa or elsewhere. Of course, that’s not the only move needed as Duchene would command a higher price, but, hey, a boy can dream!
Because we are mostly massive hacks who regurgitate actual reporter’s content, let’s take Friedman’s words as well on fellow UFA forwards Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel. Mark Stone carries a cap hit of $7,350,000, while Dzingel carries a hit of just $1,800,000.
While re-signing both (or neither) is an option, the Senators have to be looking at potential suitors, even if they’re in division. What do they have to lose at this point? They’re not making the playoffs themselves, so why not let Toronto give them an asset if they feel like re-signing is impossible? If we had to bet, Dzingel would be likelier for Toronto to be interested in. A couple other names on Ottawa are Cody Ceci and Mikkel Boedker. Not names you should trade for, or even pending free agents, just names on Ottawa.
What would the Senators want?
Honestly? Does anyone know what Pierre Dorion is thinking? The Leafs could probably come forward with a package of Brown, Bracco, and a second round pick and get just about any player they want.
But in seriousness, the Leafs’ best trade chip here would be Jeremy Bracco. Throw in a first round pick if you need to. As previously reported by many, (and perhaps further evidenced by the Jake Muzzin deal), Liljegren and Sandin aren’t being moved for a rental player, or even likely a player with little return.
The Senators, by virtue of giving away their three best players, might actually have the best trade package in a league. But the Leafs are at the start of their window rather than the end, and going all-in right now could prove costly.
While he has had stretches of being a decent player, it’s hard to look at the Leafs’ future cap situation and wonder how much better things would be if they weren’t paying such a high salary for a player whose most positive adjective is “decent”.
There aren’t many ways that the Leafs can get out from under the Nikita Zaitsev contract and the Ottawa Senators are probably not one of them. They’re already incompetent enough to see Zaitsev as a major improvement to their team, but his cap hit is daunting, especially when an unnamed owner doesn’t like to pay up. While it is possible that a Zaitsev for Ceci deal could be worked out, I don’t see that kind of major money transaction happening at the upcoming trade deadline.
Is this gonna happen?
No. Toronto isn’t getting any of Ottawa’s big three. It’d be like giving your best toys to your older brother just because he asked. Other teams can offer better packages, and are in more of a win-now mode to be desperate. Not that Toronto doesn’t want to win, but it could look real silly if this team ponies up a significant chunk of their future to Ottawa and ends up losing in the early rounds of the playoffs.
That being said would it be funny if the Leafs fleeced Ottawa?