Maple Leafs’ 2023 offseason trade watch: Calgary Flames
Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney3 months ago
Welcome to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2023 offseason trade watch series where trade candidates from around the NHL will be showcased as options for general manager (GM) Brad Treliving. There’s little doubt the Leafs will be busy this summer and the transactions are expected to be early and often. Buckle up, the silly season has arrived.
After circling in on trade candidates from the Winnipeg Jets, let’s head further west and see who from the Calgary Flames Treliving may have an interest in bringing with him to Toronto. One of these three Flames could fit in nicely on the Maple Leafs:
One of the biggest trades Treliving made as GM of the Flames was acquiring Hanifin and Elias Lindholm from the Carolina Hurricanes. The mobile defenseman then agreed to sign a six-year contract, which has one season remaining. Turns out Hanifin has reportedly informed Calgary he isn’t interested in re-signing and there’s legit potential he could be moved this summer. The Maple Leafs should at least kick tires.
The price tag will be expensive but for a 26-year-old top-pairing defenseman who can play in all situations, this is a case where it may be worth it.
Hanifin recorded 38 points in 81 games last season. He’s a smooth skater who has a very high hockey IQ and sees the game better than most. He’d immediately become the Leafs’ second-best blueliner behind Morgan Rielly.
Any trade involving the Flames defenseman will be tricky because of the upcoming contract extension. Hanifin holds an eight-team no-trade clause, however, a team isn’t going to acquire him and spend a bunch of assets if they don’t feel he’s going to stick around long-term. Staying with the Maple Leafs could be in the cards here.
If the Flames and Leafs were to pull this off it would likely be Timothy Liljegren, a draft pick, and a defensive prospect heading the other way. Prospect Topi Niemela could be someone who Flames general manager Craig Conroy has an interest in.
The Maple Leafs are desperate for another top-four defenseman, it’s all going to come down to how much Treliving wants to part with, in what could be his first major move. Keeping Liljegren and moving TJ Brodie would be ideal, but likely not something Conroy has an interest in.
Treliving is in the market for toughness this summer and there aren’t many tougher in the NHL than Zadorov. The 6-foot-6 monster is an absolute beast and someone who Treliving has signed to two contracts. Could a trade be next?
Zadorov makes $3.75 million against the cap and doesn’t have any trade protection. With the potential of a Hanifin trade creeping into the Flames’ reality, yes, moving another defenseman could be worrisome in Calgary. However, it’s all going to come down to what Conroy is targeting from other teams.
Zadorov would be a great fit for the Leafs. He loves to throw his weight around, landing 174 hits last season while blocking 75 shots. He played 2:10 per game on the penalty kill and with Jake Muzzin likely not coming back, and Justin Holl being told he’s done in Toronto, Treliving will need to add another defenseman who fits in on special teams.
There were too many times last season in which the Maple Leafs didn’t respond when they got ‘punched in the face’. Seeing Matthew Knies get choke-slammed by Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs is a perfect example. Adding an intimidating towering defenseman for next season’s security blanket could be a good place to start.
The Flames have youngster Dustin Wolf who is pushing at the seams for NHL ice time. He was someone who Conroy spoke of after he took the GM position in Calgary. There’s little doubt the team will be looking to make a move in their crease this summer and Vladar could be the odd man out.
The Maple Leafs’ goaltending situation is a bit of a mess at the moment. Matt Murray could be bought out before June 30, which will free up some immediate cap space. There’s also Ilya Samsonov, who is a restricted free agent looking for a new deal. Then throw in Joseph Woll, who is on one of the best contracts in the league at $766,667. There’s no doubt there would need to be a couple of dominoes to fall but at this point, it’s hard to gauge what Treliving’s mindset will be in net.
If a goalie move does occur, Vladar is a prime trade candidate for the Maple Leafs. He’s under contract at $2.2 million through 2024-25 and last season posted a 2.91 goals against average in 27 games. Treliving’s traded for him once before, if Toronto’s in need of a goalie later this summer, circle the Flames as a potential target. For now, it appears Samsonov and Woll are next season’s duo.
There’s been some chatter about Treliving being far apart with Luke Schenn on contract negotiations and if Schenn leaves, Toronto will add some more defenceman to their wish list. The Flames have a couple of solid options for the Maple Leafs, it’s all going to come down to what exactly the acquisition price is and how much Treliving wants to offload as he gets himself accustomed to his new office.
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