Maple Leafs 2024 first-round pick is in play but ideally not for a rental

Shane Seney
5 months ago
Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving has some major decisions to make leading up to his first trade deadline in charge in Toronto and a lot of the attention will be surrounding the availability of his 2024 first-round pick. Is it being shopped? It’s starting to sound like it but very strategically.
Hockey insider Elliotte Friedman spoke on the matter during the most recent episode of 32 Thoughts and it’s becoming more and more obvious that Treliving is actively working the phones and the first-round pick is in play. Friedman mentions the draft gurus he’s closest to don’t feel the 2024 Entry Draft will be a deep pool of prospects and the top-end talent is going to see a drop after the top-20. Right around where the Maple Leafs would likely pick based on the current standings.
Friedman points out how the Winnipeg Jets and Vancouver Canucks have already made up their minds and were ok with trading their first-rounders. They were happy with how the incoming pieces fit into their lineup for the rest of this season as Elias Lindholm and Sean Monahan are both pending free agents, but both Patrik Allvin in Vancouver and Kevin Cheveldayoff in Winnipeg pulled the trigger as they felt adding the veteran talent for this season is better suited for their organization than scratching a lottery ticket at the draft.
This will be the dilemma for Treliving and company. Add another high-end prospect to the mix or give this group the best possible chance to succeed and win a Cup this season. Friedman thinks there’s issues in Toronto when it comes to prospect inventory. It’s worth pointing out the Leafs don’t have a second-rounder in 2024 and they don’t have their first-rounder in 2025 either.

Treliving Willing to Move First-Rounder for Some ‘Punch’

Friedman points out how he feels the Maple Leafs GM will be willing to move the first-rounder but not for a rental. The ideal situation is either for multiple rentals, who have the potential of sticking around come the offseason, or a player with term. Friedman touched on this in the podcast:
What I think Jeff, ultimately, I think they are prepared to do it and what they are trying to figure out is if they can use it to pack a bit more of a punch than just a first-round pick for a rental. For example, when they were trying to get both Tanev and Zadorov from Calgary, I believe their first-round pick was there. They were prepared to do it to get two players and see if they could sign them. And, so I think that’s what they’re trying to do. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if in trying to get Tanev from Calgary, the Leafs are thinking can we get a second player with this? Is it Hanifin, is it Markstrom, is it someone else?
Food for thought? More like a buffet of possibilities. One, it’s becoming clearer each day that Treliving is prioritizing Tanev as the Leafs and Flames continue to be linked during trade talks and it seems like that’s a very consistent thing across several insiders. It’s also becoming more and more obvious that the Flames and more specifically GM Craig Conroy, is going to work a hard bargain and do whatever he can to maximize the return on all his assets, which was one of the biggest reasons Tanev didn’t get dealt to the Canucks in the Lindholm deal. He feels he can get more if he splits them up.
For Treliving, it’s going to be crucial for any deal involving the first-round pick to not miss. This can’t be an instance where the Leafs are entering the Stanley Cup Playoffs and there’s still several question marks on defense. If the first-rounder goes, it needs to shore up the d-core and allow head coach Sheldon Keefe to slot in his blueliners into the proper positioning on the depth chart. Again, he won’t be adding just one player here, it needs to be at least two.
The Leafs face an uphill battle if Mark Giordano and Timothy Liljegren are playing major minutes and who knows how long Simon Benoit can keep playing the best hockey of his pro career. So far the Leafs GM has signed Bertuzzi, which has yet to look like a home run, Domi’s been inconsistent, Reaves is only playing because of injuries and let’s not even get started on the Kampf extension. Treliving would likely point out the fact he’s re-signed both Matthews and Nylander to long-term extensions.
Regardless of where you stand on Treliving’s tenure as Leafs GM, know that he’s trying to upgrade the roster, he’s willing to give up the 2024 first-round pick, it’s just not appetizing for him to do so unless there’s some serious ‘punch’ coming back the other way. Tanev and Hanifin? That’d be a knockout punch Leafs fans are looking for.
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