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4 Maple Leafs trade assets who could be moved ahead of the deadline: The Countdown
By Shane Seney19 days ago
The NHL trade deadline is set for March 8 and the Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the few teams in the league who are going to be unpredictable leading up to the big day. GM Brad Treliving could go so many different ways to address team needs, not only for the rest of this season but moving forward into next season. While at this point, the direction is unknown, one thing that’s for sure is the fact the scouts are out. During the Maple Leafs/New York Islanders game on Monday night, there were up to 17 scouts in the building, including Ottawa Senators GM Steve Staios.
Trade talks around the league are going haywire at the moment, here’s who the Maple Leafs could be dangling ahead of the deadline:
It seems like Leafs fans are on the fence about Robertson and it could have to do with where he’s playing in the lineup. Robertson isn’t suited for typical third-line duties, but he’s not consistently producing to play top-six minutes just yet. At just 22 years old, it makes a lot of sense for Treliving to hold onto him so we don’t have another Trevor Moore or Carter Verhaeghe situation arise of the team giving up on a young forward too early.
On the other hand, something to consider about Robertson, Treliving didn’t draft him and may not love what he brings to the table. The young forward is undersized but you can’t knock his motor and willingness to go balls to the wall every shift. He’s got more goals than Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, and considering the Leafs’ cap situation, which isn’t going to clean itself up anytime soon, the Leafs are going to need cheap young forwards in the mix, is Robertson one to consider for the next few years? If there’s a trade out there for a number one goalie, top-two defenceman, or top-six forward, it’s likely Robertson will be asked for in the package.
Speaking of Bertuzzi, yes, he’s underperforming in a major way in Toronto and it could have something to do with his positioning on the ice. He’s used to scoring his goals in front of the net and so far, with only six goals in 47 games, that hasn’t been the case as a Leaf.
Bertuzzi admitted he was willing to give Toronto a try but wasn’t sure how he’d like the media attention and playing in a massive market like the big smoke. While his game is better suited for the playoffs and he’s likely someone the Leafs hold onto, if there’s a deal to flip him and move his $5 million cap hit, Tre will listen. The Leafs don’t have any cap space ahead of the deadline so their GM must be creative to open up resources and balance out the books in any big deal. Moving Bertuzzi in a big package for a number two defenceman is the kind of creativity that could send Leafs Nation into a frenzy.
While half of you are yelling at me to stop and move TJ Brodie instead, the fact of the matter is Brodie holds essentially no trade value, whereas Liljegren could actually fetch a serious return which could help move the needle. Treliving wants to upgrade the blueline, which doesn’t necessarily mean the current d-men are untouchable.
Liljegren is still reasonably young at 24, he’s a righty, which is hard to come by, he’s an above average skater, but there have been a lot of holes in his game. Head coach Sheldon Keefe has come public with the team’s frustrations with Liljegren this season and rightfully so. He tends to lose focus at unwarranted times, he hasn’t produced a ton offensively with just nine points in 31 games, and he doesn’t have an appetite for the bone-crushing hit. I call Liljegren a ‘tweener’, he does do some of the little things well but what role can he play on a championship team?
The good news is the former first-round pick still has some trade value considering most of his minutes have been with the oldest player in the league, perhaps in a different situation he’d be better suited to perform. Move him up the Leafs’ depth chart, or move him in a package for an all-star, that’s for Treliving to decide.
2024 First-Round Pick
If the Maple Leafs had a second-round pick anytime soon, I’d have started there considering the market, but since they don’t it’s the first. Plus, if they want Chris Tanev out of Calgary, the first has been the ask. Same goes if they want Jakob Chychrun from Ottawa, the first-rounder will need to be included.
Basically look at it this way, if Treliving wants to land an impact player, who is under contract through at least next season, and is going to help move the needle for the Leafs heading into the playoffs, there’s limited doubt the first-round pick will need to be included in the package. Even though the pick is going to be early 20’s likely, it will need to be in play. It’s also risky moving out first-rounders, but it shouldn’t be frowned upon if it happens. It means Treliving found a player with term on their contract that he feels will make an impact and was willing to pay the price. That’s a good GM if you ask me, giving his team a chance and believing they’re close enough to make your dreams come true.
Nevertheless, it’s going to be entertaining as hell watching Treliving get to work this next month. If he’s moving out anything off the NHL roster, the four assets mentioned could certainly be in play. The organizational cupboards aren’t necessarily stocked with goodies, so it’s going to be fascinating to watch Treliving navigate his creativity in his first deadline as Maple Leafs GM.
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