4 Blues who could potentially reunite with Craig Berube

Photo credit:Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
24 days ago
Familiarity plays a major part in NHL transactions. For the Toronto Maple Leafs, it could become a theme this offseason.
General manager Brad Treliving hired Craig Berube to become the new head coach and it’s now time to assess if any of his former St. Louis Blues players could be joining him with the Maple Leafs.
Berube was fired by the Blues on December 14, 2023 amidst a four-game losing streak. St. Louis posted a 13-14-1 record and management felt the team needed a new voice after six seasons with Berube at the helm. Berube led the Blues to a Stanley Cup victory in his first season but unfortunately consistent playoff success didn’t follow during the next five seasons.
Berube is now tasked with pushing an underachieving Maple Leafs squad to find playoff success. Treliving’s going to do whatever he can to upgrade Toronto’s roster, which is likely to include some significant action on the offseason trade market. With Berube locked in, here are four Blues players who could be on the Maple Leafs’ radar this summer:

Jordan Binnington

When Berube was let go in St Louis, it was a gut-punch to Binnington. The Richmond Hill, ON native was very candid with the media following the news and mentioned:
“It’s difficult. He’s been my coach for the whole time I’ve been in the NHL and a little bit of the minors. I’ve got to know him over the years and had some success. It’s always tough to see someone go, whether it’s a teammate or a coach like that, so it’s difficult,” Binnington said.
Binnington makes sense as a potential Leafs’ target this offseason. They need a partner for Joseph Woll and the Blues netminder checks a lot of boxes. He’s a Stanley Cup winner, under contract at a very reasonable $6 million annually over the next three seasons. The familiarity and relationship with Berube shouldn’t be understated. Being a goalie in Toronto isn’t for everyone and the two could certainly lean on each other to handle all the off-ice noise. Binnington loves pressure and there are few scenarios more pressure-filled than attempting to his lead his hometown team to a Stanley Cup.
St Louis has Joel Hofer ready for No. 1 minutes. Hofer appeared in 30 games, while Binnington played 57 games. They both ended the season with an identical .913 save percentage. Toronto’s incumbent starter Ilya Samsonov finished the regular season sporting a .890 save percentage
It would be a huge upgrade to land Binnington but he does have some say in the matter. The 30-year-old holds an 18-team no-trade clause but it’s likely if he was given the opportunity to rejoin a Berube-led team, he’d give it some serious thought. Treliving should do the same this summer.

Colton Parayko

Parayko’s contract is going to scare away a number of onlooking teams. He’s owed $6.5 million per season through the 2029-30 campaign and considering he’s a towering presence at 6-foot-6 and not necessarily getting faster as his career progresses, there’s certainly a level of risk involved.
Toronto has a dire need for a right-handed top-four defenseman who can play in all situations. Parayko recorded 26 points in 82 games last season, which is essentially par for the course. Parayko’s career-high for points is 35, which he’s hit twice in his nine-year career. The 31-year-old is a shot-blocking wizard and loves to throw his weight around, finishing this past season with 218 blocks and 113 hits.
It’s worth noting that Parayko’s production doesn’t decrease in the playoffs. Parayko has managed to chip in with 32 points in 82 playoff games and it’s this level of experience of playing in intense postseason battles that should excite Treliving.
Parayko’s power-play time has dwindled the past few seasons thanks to Torey Krug and Justin Faulk arriving on the scene but he could be a nice compliment to the Leafs’ top unit. He owns an absolute cannon of a slap shot, which could become an effective tool to add to the Leafs power-play, which was dismal during the first-round series against the Boston Bruins. They haven’t had this type of shot back there since Bryan McCabe’s days and Parayko could be everything Treliving wished John Klingberg was going to turn into.
Berube knows Parayko better than anyone. Treliving will certainly be asking for the full breakdown of any Blues player should trade talks advance, Parayko included.

Alexey Toropchenko

A lot of teams could use a 6-foot-6 winger who loves to play hard and tries to hit everything that moves. Toropchenko gets home crowds buzzing with his ability to use his speed, size and tenacity on the forecheck. He landed 165 hits last season, he was an effective penalty killer who scored twice shorthanded and managed to add another 12 even-strength goals, despite playing just over 12 minutes a night.
Toropchenko has some serious two-way flare and he’s perfectly suited for the bottom-six on a Berube-run hockey club. He’s also versatile enough to play either wing, which gives the new coaching staff some options. Adding the big Russian forward to a line with Connor Dewar and Ryan Reaves could wreak havoc on opposing teams. Dewar and Toropchenko are responsible in all three zones and love to work for pucks, while Reaves showed down the stretch of the regular season that he’s trying to put people through the glass. Could this be the new fourth line in Toronto?
The 24-year-old Toropchenko is under contract for next season at $1.25 million and is a pending restricted free agent. An interesting scenario here would be if the Maple Leafs targeted Toropchenko: would Timothy Liljegren be involved? The contracts and player potentially align and the Blues, like most teams, could use another right-handed defensemen.

Jake Neighbours

Parayko and Neighbours for Mitch Marner? It’s likely that if Marner gets traded, it won’t be for a goaltender and it won’t be a one-for-one swap. There’s too much pressure involved considering the market. Regardless of who gets traded by the Maple Leafs this summer, Neighbours would be a massive get for Treliving.
The 2020 first-round pick broke out during the 2023-24 season, scoring 27 goals. Neighbours brings a ton of offensive flare, he has top-line potential and at just 22 years old, the sky is the limit.
Neighbours is over 200 pounds and loves to throw his weight around. It’s this type of offensive awareness and willingness to seek contact in the dirty areas of the ice that make him so intriguing. He loves to linger around the front of the net and scored 20 of his 27 goals from high-danger areas. This could come in handy for the Maple Leafs come playoff time when goals are hard to come by and not much is accomplished unless you get to the paint. Neighbours should be atop the Maple Leafs’ list if they pursue a trade with the Blues.
Get ready for an entertaining summer as the Maple Leafs are expected to be among one of the most active teams this offseason. Treliving is known for being involved in just about every major trade conversation, and with Berube as his new head coach, it makes a ton of sense to go over the Blues roster and hear what their ex-head coach thinks about each of their games.
Adding one of Binnington, Parayko, Toropchenko or Neighbours would be a solid addition for the Leafs. Adding two could push them over the hump, especially with a familiar voice motivating them from behind the bench.

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