Dreger: Nikita Zadorov and Oliver Ekman-Larsson remain prime targets for Toronto

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Joseph Zita
13 days ago
A spectacular weekend at the Sphere in Las Vegas for the 2024 NHL draft came to a close yesterday, but not before the Toronto Maple Leafs made the final trade of the afternoon, acquiring the rights to Chris Tanev from the Dallas Stars in exchange for the expiring contract of Max Ellis and a 2026 7th-round pick.
No contract offer has been presented to Tanev and his camp at this time, but Brad Treliving and the Maple Leafs are sure to start the negotiations as soon as possible so they can lock up the 34-year-old for next season and beyond.
Following the trade, TSN’s Darren Dreger mentioned the Maple Leafs are likely to sign Tanev to a long-term contract to help bring down the annual value. And to go along with acquiring Tanev’s rights, it was reported that Nikita Zadorov and recent Stanley Cup champion Oliver Ekman-Larsson remain ‘prime targets in addition to Tanev.’
As mentioned yesterday, Canucks General Manager Patrik Allvin announced that Zadorov is heading to the open market on July 1st, and Toronto, who has had plenty of interest in the Moscow native, will revisit him as a target for their blue line, as Dreger mentioned above in a post on X.
Ekman-Larsson, however, is an intriguing name. This is the first time the veteran blue-liner has been linked to the Maple Leafs. And after winning the Stanley Cup with one of Toronto’s division rivals, his market will be interesting given his bounce-back season in 2023-24 following being bought out by the Canucks a year ago.
In 80 games this past season, the 32-year-old scored nine goals – the highest total since the 2019-20 season – and added 23 assists for 32 points – the highest he’s recorded since the 2019-20 season.
The longtime Arizona Coyote signed a one-year, $2.25M prove-it deal with the Panthers on day one of free agency last year, and after re-finding his game in South Florida, his market and price tag will be a thing to watch with the defence market being a key focus for a lot of teams around the league.
(Stats from Hockeydb.com)

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