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Brad Treliving explains why Maple Leafs traded for Chris Tanev

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Photo credit:Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
22 days ago
One of the worst-kept secrets in hockey has been Brad Treliving’s open desire to bring Chris Tanev to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and now it’s out of the bag. Toronto acquired the rights to Tanev in a trade with the Dallas Stars, effectively buying a window to start negotiating with the pending free-agent defenceman, who will be one of the most sought-after players on the market.
Treliving confirmed his intentions and reasoning behind the trade Saturday afternoon.
“We want to jump the queue here as best we could and get to him before free agency started,” Treliving said via Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. “I know the player well. We’ll get to work on it now.”
Tanev excelled for the Stars during the playoffs, joining the team after a trade with the Calgary Flames materialized in late February. Toronto was reportedly one of Tanev’s most ardent suitors, but couldn’t strike a deal with Calgary — whether that has anything to do with Treliving’s previous tenure there is unsubstantiated.
The 34-year-old is precisely what the Maple Leafs have been missing and would be an asset to any Stanley Cup contender. Widely considered as one of the premier shot-blockers in the NHL, Tanev is a defence-first blue liner who erases mistakes, facilitates breakouts and eliminates chances off the rush. Dallas controlled a dominant 62 percent share of the expected goals at 5-on-5 when Tanev was on the ice in 19 regular season games via Natural Stat Trick and a 54 percent share during the playoffs.
“He’s just an elite defensive player. You know, we talk about offensive players seeing plays early. He does the same thing but on the defensive side of the puck,” Treliving said.
“An absolute warrior. He’s a culture carrier for your room. Listen, I know the age he’s at. But I think even in the last year he showed he’s one of the top shutdown defencemen, one of the top defensive players, in the league. And he’s a right shot. He embodies everything you want in a teammate.
Tanev remaining with the Maple Leafs isn’t a certainty yet although Saturday’s trade effectively gives Toronto a major head start against its competitors. Tanev’s agent, Wade Arnott, told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun shortly after the trade was announced that no agreement has been reached with the Maple Leafs yet, but will be hearing from the team immediately.
It would be a full-circle moment for Tanev, a Toronto-raised product who was a late bloomer and carved out a stellar NHL career after being passed over by the Ontario Hockey League circuit 20 years ago. And now we wait until Monday to see if Treliving’s calculated bet pays off for the Maple Leafs and in a different, fiduciary sense, for Tanev.

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