Photo credit:© Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
The Leafs should circle back and trade for Coyotes defenceman Matt Dumba
By Shane Seney25 days ago
The NHL’s trade deadline is just over a month away and according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking into every defenceman in the league. GM Brad Treliving is trying to find ways to upgrade the defensive corps and before the March 8th trade deadline, the Maple Leafs and Arizona Coyotes could become trade partners.
The Maple Leafs target? Coyotes d-man Matt Dumba. The same Dumba that Treliving had inter10est in during free agency and who the Leafs initially ‘wanted’ to sign instead of John Klingberg. Likely one of the few do-overs Toronto’s GM would like back at this point, less than a year into the job.
Dumba’s Likely Available to Highest Bidder
The Coyotes head into All-Star weekend with a 23-22-3 record, sitting five points back of the second wildcard spot in the West, with two teams to leapfrog. Their GM Bill Armstrong will be monitoring results in February to see which kind of direction the team is looking to head down before the trade deadline and if the ‘Yotes don’t make up any ground, expect to see Armstrong move out a few pending free agents, with Dumba being one of them.
He’s owed $3.9 million against the cap this season, which isn’t exactly music to the ears of Leafs fans, considering Treliving signed Klingberg instead for $4.15 million. Dumba doesn’t have any trade protection and can be moved at will. He is currently nursing an upper-body injury, which of course should be monitored, but by all accounts, nobody in the Coyotes’ organization thinks it’s too serious and he’ll be back into action in no time.
Arizona is projected to have over $42 million in cap space this summer, but to this point, there hasn’t been much noise about a contract extension for Dumba. He’s had a solid season, but it feels like Sean Durzi has taken most of the spotlight with his breakout season in the desert. Again, if no contract talks are ongoing, and Armstrong’s looking to sell, Treliving should be doing his best to find out exactly what the Coyotes GM is looking for in return.
Dumba’s Game Suits Maple Leafs’ Needs
The Maple Leafs’ blue line has been a topic of conversation for a long time and that hasn’t changed one bit with Treliving in charge. If anything, the noise has picked up in a major way because of how open the Leafs’ GM has been about wanting to make upgrades. It’s never discussed who exactly he’d like to replace but Mark Giordano, to me, would be a great place to start.
Dumba’s a defender through and through, but that hasn’t always been the case. Back in his Minnesota Wild days, he was putting up 50 points and showing off his two-way game. The offensive production has lessened the past few seasons, however, he’s someone who can play 20 minutes a game on the Leafs’ second pair and at 29 years old, could be in the cards for the next three or four seasons. Through 44 games this season, the Regina, Sask native has blocked 84 shots, and laid 61 hits, including this big one against the Predators:
It doesn’t hurt that Dumba’s right-handed as the Leafs are lefty-heavy. He is not afraid to muck it up and sacrifice, his body and he’s currently leading all Coyotes blueliners in penalty-killing minutes. One of the Leafs’ many sore spots is their PK, ranking 24th in the league, and having Dumba in the mix could be a nice upgrade.
Treliving Could Circle Back, But At What Cost
As Friedman discussed months ago on Leafs Morning Take, Dumba was the guy Treliving wanted last summer but obviously, things didn’t work out. Lack of patience to blame and feeling the pressures of having to do something when free agency opened, is likely the case if you ask me. Here’s what Friedman said at the time, chatting with Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill:
You know Jay, I think a guy they really wanted on July 1st was (Matt) Dumba and I think they were in on him. You know Klingberg came in at $4.15 (million), I think Dumba at the time, Dumba ended up in Arizona for $3.9 (million), but I think at the time he was high in the 5’s. I think Toronto really wanted him and couldn’t, you know, they couldn’t get the deal done. Couldn’t fit Dumba where he wanted to be. It’s hard not to look at that right now. Dumba is not perfect, but he’s a passionate passionate guy.
It’s been hard to put a finger on what’s available from the Maple Leafs, because of all the question marks surrounding their lineup, including some health concerns. Dumba’s not home-run material, so it’s a hard pass on trading any top prospects, first-rounders, or Nick Robertson, for that matter. Armstrong’s shown with the Coyotes, that he’s open to just about any type of trade, be it, buying, selling, taking on salary, or moving a draft pick for a young stud like we saw with the recent Durzi deal.
Arizona has no defensemen signed to a contract next season and Armstrong will have lots of work to do this offseason. Would taking back Conor Timmins at $1.1 million for next season and one of the Maple Leafs better prospects get a deal done? Skeptical but not impossible. That’s where Treliving should start should the conversation. What about Timmins and the third-rounder in 2024? If we look back to last season’s trade deadline, Justin Braun, a defensive defenceman, was moved from the Flyers to the Rangers for a third-round pick. So it seems like at least a reasonable starting point, but considering the age difference, another piece would need to be included to compare apples to apples.
Nevertheless, Treliving has some decisions to make when it comes to what he’s open to moving ahead of the trade deadline and if he wants to risk waiting out Dumba’s contract in Arizona and circling back on July 1 when free agency opens. Can the Maple Leafs wait? The blueline remains a touchy subject, Dumba would be a nice upgrade and if Toronto can land him before March 8 at a reasonable cost, Treliving should absolutely be doing so.
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