logo

The Maple Leafs need to swing for the fences with next trade offer

alt
Photo credit:Mark J. Rebilas
Shane Seney
1 month ago
63 games into the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs are far from a finished product. GM Brad Treliving has done a reasonable job trying to set this team up for success, now it’s time to put the finishing touches on the roster before 3 pm est Friday. Treliving needs to dig in and try to hit a home run on his next trade. He’s done a nice job with some patchwork on the trade market to this point, but will it be enough? Ilya Lyubushkin has joined the Maple Leafs, from the Anaheim Ducks, and has been sprung into top-pairing duties with Morgan Rielly. ‘The Boosh’ is a nice pickup, and he’s effective when he keeps his game simple, but he’s closer to a #6 defenseman than he is a #2.
Joel Edmundson was acquired for two draft picks and he’s a nasty defender to play against, especially in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Is he a top-four option on a contending team? Likely not, but he could shine as a #5 for the Leafs and be an effective penalty killer.
So, where do we go from here Brad?
There’s been a lot of talk about a depth forward being the unfinished business, and while a versatile winger who can slide over to play centre would be nice, especially if they join the Leafs with playoff experience and a little bit of piss and vinegar in their game. Yes, that type of player wouldn’t hurt, especially since the likes of Noah Gregor and Pontus Holmberg have been inconsistent throughout the season. Again, a little bit of patchwork. That’s like a bunt single, Treliving needs to try and hit one into the upper deck at Roger’s centre.

Home-run Trade Offer Would Include Multiple Pieces

At the end of the day, creativity and salary retention will be needed to complete any transaction in Toronto. Treliving should be making calls and offering up multiple players and his 2024 first-round pick. As my colleague Alex Hobson put it, why are you paying more in trades to have salary retained if you’re not going to use all of the available funds before the trade deadline hits?
Treliving should try and package the likes of one of Timothy Liljegren or TJ Brodie, his 2024 first-round pick, a couple of Marlies prospect he never drafted and doesn’t necessarily like, and if Nick Robertson needs to be included, he should strongly consider it.
Liljegren has struggled of late and is creeping into scapegoat territory. With his age, salary, team security, the fact that he’s a pending restricted free agent, and his right-handed shot, there’s still some value on the trade market. Just don’t show the interested team any game tape for the past three weeks. It won’t help.
Yes, the Leafs are trying to upgrade their defence so it doesn’t normally mean they trade away a blueliner, but at the end of the day Treliving is trying to make the Maple Leafs a better team and to do that, he may need to rid himself of either Brodie or Liljegren. Brodie owns a 10-team no-trade clause and as a veteran pending free agent who is on the books for $5 million this season, the market will be thin, which is where Treliving needs to get creative. The only two types of teams who will be interested in acquiring Brodie would be contending or playoff-bound teams who would look at Brodie as a veteran defensive-defenceman who can play meaningful minutes for them come playoff time. Or, the Arizona Coyotes who love to take on any contract if it means a first-round pick is coming back the other way.
By moving Brodie’s $5 million and sweetening the deal with the first-rounder, there needs to be some term coming back the other way. What about Arizona for Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba, with Dumba sticking around on a contract extension that comes in at around $4 million annually? What about putting Nick Robertson in an offer with Liljegren and offering at least this to the Seattle Kraken for Adam Larsson? Now we’re talking dingers. David Savard for a first-rounder? He’d move the needle.
Treliving has a few options and is working the phones tirelessly trying to make at least one more trade before the deadline hits. Some more patchwork? Stay away, Brad. You should be trying to swing for the fences and land a defenseman who can play on your top pair, push everyone down accordingly, and help balance out the blueline for a long Stanley Cup Playoff run.

Check out these posts...