The Countdown: 4 Maple Leafs trade assets who could be dealt for a defenceman

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
7 months ago
The trade winds have picked up in a major way around the Toronto Maple Leafs and it appears general manager Brad Treliving is working the phones trying to land a defenceman. There’s even been some talks he’s already tried to land two, as Kevin Weekes reported the Leafs GM made an offer to the Calgary Flames with interest in acquiring both Nikita Zadorov and Chris Tanev.
Zadorov ended up in Vancouver, meanwhile Tanev remains a possibility. So do many blueliners around the league, as it’s been noted that Treliving is ideally trying to find at least one defenceman who is right-handed and plays with an edge.
While talent arriving means talent departs and with the Maple Leafs being tight to the salary cap, there’s no doubt someone off their roster is getting shipped out in any trade.  Treliving doesn’t have a ton in the cupboards, but he does have several assets to dangle to interested teams. For today’s Countdown, here’s four trade assets the Maple Leafs could move for a defenseman:

Ilya Samsonov

Yes, there’s a chance Samsonov gets moved this season. Is it ‘likely’? Very hard to say at this point. At $3.5 million against the cap, there is some value there for Treliving to add him into a trade to create the necessary cap space to land a big-ticket defenceman. The best ones normally get paid the most.
Samsonov hasn’t stood on his head this season and there’s no certainty that the Maple Leafs feel he’s in their long term plans. Remind yourselves this is Treliving’s first season at the helm and he’s not necessarily tied to a lot of the current Maple Leafs because most of them were brought in by Dubas. Treliving did sign Samsonov for this season, but he could have signed him to a long-term deal and decided against it. So far this season, the Russian netminder has appeared in 10 games, posting a 4-1-3 record to go along with a 3.58 GAA and .878 Sv.%. Last season was a career year in all aspects of Samsonov’s game and there’s lots of upside still left in the 26-year-old to pique the interest of onlooking teams.
The Maple Leafs have Joseph Woll signed next season for pennies. Woll’s set to make $766,667 in 2024-25 and will be one of the best value contracts in the entire NHL. He already is this season. And with Martin Jones  as a potential veteran replacement, who won 27 games last season in Seattle, there’s also youngster Dennis Hildeby. In eight appearances this season with the Toronto Marlies, Hildeby’s posted a stellar 1.63 GAA and .935 Sv.%. He’s looking NHL ready sooner than later.
Is moving Samsonov and giving the ball to Woll risky? Of course, but there’s risk and there’s reward and if it means Treliving has the capacity to add an expensive defenceman that fits exactly what the Maple Leafs need on their blue line, who’s to say he doesn’t use some depth in their crease to make it happen.

Nick Robertson

Robertson turned some heads at training camp after he was rather candid with the media, saying how he understands his ‘name’ doesn’t hold the same value as a prospect because of his history with injuries. All he’s done since is raise his stock as the shifty winger worked his butt off to start the season and earned a callup. Robertson hasn’t looked back. The 22-year-old former second-round pick has appeared in 11 games with the Maple Leafs, recording three goals and six points. He only has two points in his last seven games, however he’s fit in nicely with Max Domi and Calle Jarnkrok on the team’s third line.
Robertson only makes $796,667 against the cap so he’s likely a piece that would be packaged with another player as moving just him wouldn’t provide the cap space Treliving will need to acquire an impact defenceman who would move the needle for the Maple Leafs. Treliving will likely be on the hunt for veteran blueliners with some Stanley Cup Playoff experience, but time will tell.

2024 First-Round Pick

Kyle Dubas loved moving top picks and has surprisingly left Treliving with one first rounder to dangle in trades. There’s no doubt adding the pick could lead to a game-changer coming back to Toronto and personally, I could see him only making a trade if it means it’s a major splash. The Flames trade talks were the perfect sign of how the Leafs GM is going to operate and he’s swinging for the fences.
If Treliving is trying to hit a home run before March’s trade deadline, the first-round pick is likely very much in play. Given Toronto’s regular season success, the pick will likely be somewhere late in the first round and likely in the 20’s. Still lots of value there.
Toronto has only selected two first-round picks in the past five seasons so it won’t be unfamiliar territory for the organization. Dubas and company were able to find gems in the second round including Robertson, Matthew Knies and Fraser Minten. If Treliving wants to acquire a d-man who moves the needle for the Maple Leafs and can push them deep into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, he’ll likely have to part ways with his top draft pick.

Conor Timmins

While the Maple Leafs are looking to add to their back end, it doesn’t necessarily mean every defenceman on the roster is currently safe. Treliving is looking to add more sandpaper to his blue line and could move on from Timmins in the deal. The 25-year-old holds some value with his reasonable $1.1 million contract for next season, and after looking like Bobby Orr during the preseason, Timmins has been just ‘ok’ since returning from injury. With just one assist in five games, he’d like to be more effective on the offensive side of the puck, meanwhile Treliving would probably like him to be more physical when the oppourtunity presents itself.
At 25, with some offensive upside and a very reasonable cap hit for the 2024-25 season, Timmins could certainly be in play for Treliving to add to any trade package.
Regardless of who the Maple Leafs part with, it does sound like trading for a defenceman is at the top of Treliving’s priorities. While top prospects like Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten are likely untouchable at this point, never say never, as the Leafs GM has been known to make some extremely bold deals in his past life. For now, it’s much more likely one of the four assets mentioned above is a part of the deal before Treliving gives up on his two most talented prospects.

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