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Friedman: Toronto’s looking at every defenceman in the league
27 days ago
As we head in to the All-Star break, the Toronto Maple Leafs quieted down some angry fans, and the seat of Sheldon Keefe seems to be cooling down following back-to-back wins against the Winnipeg Jets this past week.
However, the worst kept secret in NHL trade circles remains as loud as ever.
Brad Treliving wants to add a defenceman.
First and foremost, the team’s penalty-kill has been dreadful. They currently rank 28th in the league in PK%, even after going a perfect 8/8 in their last three.
Morgan Rielly needs a break. He is the only one on the back-end Keefe has been able to rely on throughout the season. T.J. Brodie has taken a significant step back this season as he deals with some personal issues. Timothy Liljegren had taken positive steps towards solidifying his position on the roster prior to his ankle injury, but has yet to be counted on consistently in the top-4.
Jake McCabe and Simon Benoit have been working well together in a shutdown role, however they would probably be better suited on the bottom pair of a team hoping to make it past the 2nd round for the first time since 2002.
Any way you slice it, this Leafs team is in desperate need of some help on the blue-line. It was no surprise to hear Elliotte Friedman report once again on the latest episode of “32 Thoughts” podcast that the Leafs are looking to upgrade:
“As I always say, I think I’ve said it 40 times this year, Toronto’s looking at every defenceman in the league. That’s what I just keep hearing. If there is a defenceman they like, they’re going to try to get him.”
Chris Tanev has been a name we’ve been keeping a close eye on since the beginning of the season. With his ties to Toronto, and the connection to Treliving, the fit seems natural, but Friedman was speculating interest from the Senators with regard to the right-handed defenceman.
Would it be worth spending assets – the few they have – on a rental, or would it be more wise to try to find a piece with term attached? Though Tanev would be a great fit, Treliving doesn’t have the resources to get into a bidding war for his services as we’ve seen the value for defensive-defenceman trending upward the past few years.
Just this past offseason, Luke Schenn was able to parlay his impressive playoffs alongside Morgan Rielly, into a three-year $8.25 million contract with the Nashville Predators. Stanley Cup finalist Radko Gudas also got a three-year deal at $12 million.
The Leafs may be better off trying to make a deal with the aforementioned Ottawa Senators. Jacob Chychrun’s name has become more prevalent in trade rumours recently, and though he wouldn’t help the penalty kill, his puck-moving ability and dangerous shot would be a welcome addition to a defence ranked 28th in goals (surprisingly tied with Pittsburgh) with just 16. He also has one more year left on his contract which carries an AAV of just $4.6 million. Shipping out assets for a guy that has a history of playing big minutes, and who will be around for two potential playoff runs, would be a much easier pill to swallow for both fans, and management.
It’s an unenviable position for the Toronto Maple Leafs before the March 8th Trade Deadline. Middle of the pack in goals against, and no offence from the backend. The need is clear, the prices are high, and the trade assets are few and far between.
At least they’ll have options.
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