Maple Leafs re-acquire Ilya Lyubushkin from Anaheim Ducks in three-way trade with Carolina Hurricanes

Photo credit:Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have finally put an end to the radio silence on the transaction front, and it comes in the form of a familiar face. 
After taking a further beating to their defensive corps following their Thursday night win over the Arizona Coyotes, the Leafs have reunited with defenceman Ilya Lyubushkin in a three-way deal with the Anaheim Ducks and the Carolina Hurricanes. 
Toronto acquires Lyubushkin from the Ducks along with the NHL rights to prospect Kirill Slepets from the Hurricanes, with a 2025 third-round pick headed back to Anaheim and a 2024 sixth-round pick to the Hurricanes for their role as brokers in the deal. The Leafs will be getting the Russian blueliner’s $2.75 million salary at 75% retained, which brings his cap hit down to $687,500. The Ducks will be retaining 50% of his cap hit while the Hurricanes will be taking on 25%.
Lyubushkin has struggled both offensively and defensively this season, which likely isn’t helped by the fact that he’s averaging 17:09/TOI (time-on-ice) per night on the 30th-place Anaheim Ducks. He has four assists and no goals in 55 games this season and logs nearly three minutes on the penalty kill each game. Slepets, a fifth round pick of the Hurricanes in 2019, has 19 points in 53 games for Khabarovsk Amur of the KHL. 
The 75% retention on Lyubushkin’s salary could arguably end up being a bigger factor in the deal than Lyubushkin himself. Having his contract take up less than league minimum signals that they likely have their eyes on more than one deal, which will be something to keep an eye on as the following week unfolds. The Leafs lost Mark Giordano to injury only a game after his return, and if it’s a long-term injury, they’ll likely want to add another defenceman. On that note, it’s been reported that the Giordano injury was not the reason for the trade and that the Leafs had engaged in talks with the Ducks before tonight’s game. 
If nothing else, the trade brings the Leafs a desperately needed right-handed shot and somebody who, if nothing else, can ensure the T.J. Brodie – Timothy Liljegren and Simon Benoit – Jake McCabe pairings stay together. They ideally wouldn’t want to find themselves in a situation where Lyubushkin is logging similar minutes to what he did in Anaheim, but for the time being, it saves them from having to play six lefties on the back end until Liljegren is healthy again. It also helps that there’s some familiarity between him and Rielly. 
The Leafs return to action on Saturday night against the New York Rangers and will look to start another winning streak after bouncing back against the Arizona Coyotes before the trade broke.

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