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4 Maple Leafs’ questions as trade deadline approaches: The Countdown
By Shane Seney27 days ago
The Maple Leafs will be well-represented in Toronto at this weekend’s All-Star game, but who are we kidding? The chatter of late has been what exactly is GM Brad Treliving going to do ahead of the March 8 trade deadline. Lately, there’s been reports and rumours flying out left, right, and centre, and surely the Leafs will be linked to just about everyone, in some way, shape, or form.
For this week’s Countdown, let’s ask four questions for the Maple Leafs as we are just about a month away from deadline day:
How Many Defencemen Does Treliving Acquire?
Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman recently mentioned on 32 Thoughts, that he’s hearing the Maple Leafs are looking into just about every defenceman in the league. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pure rental or someone with term on their contract, Treliving wants to know how expensive it would be to acquire them.
There’s been a lot of chatter throughout the season about Chris Tanev in Calgary, but that appears like a long shot given how much the Flames love Tanev and there’s also the relationship between Treliving and the Flames organization to consider. No Christmas cards are being sent this year, by the sounds of it.
The Maple Leafs need to upgrade their blueline, there’s no doubt about that. Morgan Rielly has been carrying the load, with some reasonable help from Simon Benoit and Jake McCabe, but the three others have been very inconsistent, one of them in Mark Giordano who shouldn’t be playing regularly. It’s the Leafs’ Achilles heal and if Treliving doesn’t shore it up this season, Toronto has no shot at going deep.
Names you’ll hear over the course of the next month include Tanev, Noah Hanifin, Matt Dumba, Nick Seeler, Ilya Lyubushkin, David Savard, Mario Ferraro, Logan Stanley, Will Borgen, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam Larsson, Sean Walker…to name a few.
Who Will Treliving Trade?
In order to bring in talent, talented players need to leave. The cupboards are rather bare, thanks to Kyle Dubas going for it season after season, but that doesn’t mean Treliving’s hands are completely tied. Depending on if it’s a pure rental player or someone with term left, the asset leaving Toronto, will, of course, change.
If Treliving is looking for a top-four defenseman with term, some trade assets to consider are Nick Robertson, the 2024 first-round pick, and perhaps even Timothy Liljegren. Just because Toronto needs to upgrade their blue line, doesn’t mean all their defencemen are untouchable.
If Treliving is going for a home run, Jakob Chychrun type, one of Easton Cowan or Fraser Minten could be in play. Long shot, for certain, but remind yourselves that Treliving didn’t draft either player and may not value them as much as you think. The Leafs GM loves big, physical D-men, who can skate and play in all situations and it sounds like he’ll be willing to give up whatever he can to add someone who moves the needle for the Leafs.
How Active Will the Leafs Be?
Listen, folks, there’s a chance Treliving doesn’t do much before March 8 and it’s purely just a slight tinker to the blue line, maybe one veteran winger and that’s about it. Don’t expect a Dubas-like swing for the fence like we saw last season.
Organizationally, the team has chatted about being realistic with expectations this season and I feel like Treliving sees how well his signings are turning out and thinking he missed on a few. He may need to reset himself this summer before truly putting his fingerprints on the roster. While the organization sees itself as a playoff team, Stanley Cup aspirations seem a bit far-fetched and it doesn’t sound like upper management sees this roster and thinks they are one piece away from glory.
The Leafs GM also, as mentioned, doesn’t have a ton of trade assets to move. Matthew Knies is untouchable, so don’t even go there, moving Tyler Bertuzzi or Max Domi appears a complete long shot at this point, but again, if it means a defenseman is coming back the other way, Treliving will take the call. Some dark horse trade candidates include William Lagesson, Nick Abruzzese, Alex Steeves, Ryan Tverberg, Roni Hirvonen, and Topi Niemela.
What Does a Home-Run Look Like?
Chychrun leaving Ottawa for Toronto seems like a long shot, but everyone was saying the same things about Dion Phaneuf before he made his way to the Nation’s capital. So in the words of Lloyd Christmas, “so you’re telling me there’s a chance”?
If Treliving steps up and crushes one out of the park, someone of this caliber ends up in blue and white. Chychrun would be an unreal get, the same can be said for Hanifin if a contract extension shortly follows. Treliving’s had a history of some bold moves, some which have worked out and some which haven’t, but any massive trade he’s pulled off, has been out of left field and not rumored all season long.
So if I had to put my detective hat on, and consider Friedman’s mentioned Treliving has looked into just about everyone, thinking blockbuster deal here, would Sean Durzi be available for the right price out of Arizona? Yes, the same Durzi that Dubas traded to LA in the Jake Muzzin deal. Durzi checks a ton of boxes and is quickly becoming a legit top-pair option on the right side. Ivan Provorov is available in Columbus and wouldn’t cost as much, but is that someone who moves the needle?
To sum this all up, Treliving is actively making calls to see what’s available and for what price, and over the course of the next month, he’ll be asking himself if it’s worth it and will it make the Leafs better this season and beyond. Organizationally, the Leafs are being realistic this season, with some inconsistent players currently on the roster, and with some glaring holes to fill on the back end, it sounds like they’ve come to realize all their problems can’t be fixed in one clean swoop before March 8.
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