Photo credit:Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Potential trade pieces between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Anaheim Ducks: Seller Profiles
By Shane Seney18 days ago
Welcome to our Seller Profiles series as Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving is likely getting a sore neck from talking on the phone so much lately. Toronto’s GM enters his first trade deadline with the organization and comes in with a reputation of being extremely active in the market, turning over every rock and knocking on every door to see what other GMs are considering moving and for what price.
It’s going to be very interesting to watch the Leafs’ GM operate as there have been multiple reports he’s trying to acquire a defenceman or two, meanwhile, this Leafs team has several holes to consider filling, it’s all going to depend on when Treliving feels like addressing each need.
For our first targets piece, let’s head down to sunny California and check in on the Anaheim Ducks. GM Pat Verbeek already pulled off a bold move by acquiring disgruntled top prospect Cutter Gauthier from the Philadelphia Flyers and there’s no doubt Verbeek will be active ahead of the March 8 deadline. The Ducks are destined for the lottery and continue to look toward next season and beyond as the rebuilding continues.
Here are three Ducks trade targets to consider adding for the Maple Leafs:
It doesn’t have to be pretty or make headlines, but yes, the Maple Leafs could use Lyubushkin back in their mix. He’s a defensive defenceman who loves to play physically and sacrifice his body to help the team win. He has to, because he isn’t doing much offensively to stay in the lineup.
Lyubushkin has recorded 72 hits along with blocking 121 shots in 47 games. He’s yet to score this season but has chipped in with four assists and is a ton of minutes on the penalty kill. His 17:02 per night of ice-time is the most he’s played in three seasons, but the Ducks can’t find consistent production and will be looking to sell before the deadline.
That’s where the Leafs come in. While he may be overpriced at $2.75 million AAV against the cap, there’s some potential for Verbeek to retain some salary for the rest of this season as Lyubushkin is a free agent this summer. There’s going to be a ton of interest in the Russian blueliner, just based on his style of play and how well suited it is for the playoffs. It seems like stay-at-home physical defencemen are a hot commodity this trade season.
It’s going to depend on how many teams make offers, but the final acquisition price is likely a mid round pick and potentially a complementary piece depending on how many suitors there are. Nobody is giving up a first or second-rounder here. Lyubushkin doesn’t have the same impact as Chris Tanev of the Flames even though they play similar styles. Tanev’s been rumored to be in play for a second rounder. Lyubushkin won’t always be pretty, but in the right situation, playing the proper minutes, he can be very effective defensively.
The Maple Leafs could use some help down the middle, and as it stands now, Adam Henrique may be the best option available. The only problem is the asking price has likely gone sky-high thanks to Sean Monahan and Elias Lindholm being moved over All-Star weekend. There are financial implications to consider here.
Henrique makes $5.82 million against the cap this season and the 34-year-old holds a 10-team modified no-trade clause, however, the thought of joining the Maple Leafs for a Stanley Cup run should at least entice him. There’s zero doubt the Ducks would need to retain a decent chunk out of Henrique’s remaining cap hit to even get Treliving to consider getting off his wallet.
The fit is as ideal as they come up front for the Leafs. Henrique’s known for being one of the smartest hockey players in the league, always making the right pass and shooting when he should be and his IQ on the defensive side of the puck is extremely high. He’s also versatile and experienced playing on the wing, which comes in handy should an injury occur or if Sheldon Keefe decides to tinker with his lineup, as he’s been known to do.
Henrique does it all, he kills penalties, he’d be great on the Leafs second power-play unit and he’s shown that age isn’t slowing his production down anytime soon. The Brantford, ON native has recorded 15 goals and 33 points in 49 games this season and is on pace to set a career high for points in a season. Let me remind you he’s 34 years old and has played in the league since 2010-2011. Impressive stuff to say the least.
The acquisition cost is the focal point here. Surely the Leafs are interested, however so will many other teams including the Boston Bruins, New York Rangers and Carolina Hurricanes, who have all been linked to centres this season. If the Leafs don’t plan on using their first round pick on a rental, it will be fascinating to see how much Treliving values his prospect pool considering he didn’t draft the majority of them.
The most unlikely of the three Ducks options, but the Leafs don’t always go for the most likely. The All-Star winger has been another year left on his contract at a very reasonable $3.65 million AAV and doesn’t hold any trade protection. He has 22 goals and 36 points in 50 games on the season.
There’s been some speculation about him being linked to the Rangers, so it appears Verbeek could be willing to cash in on his asset for the right price. With the Maple Leafs having Matthew Knies who is showing signs of a sophomore slump, Tyler Bertuzzi who has underperformed and Nick Robertson who has been inconsistent throughout the season, Vatrano could be a nice upgrade for the left wing.
Speaking of Robertson, it’s possible Verbeek would ask for him in this deal. While Treliving may want to consider the move, there’s also Toronto Marlies defenceman Topi Niemela who could be in play ahead of the March 8 trade deadline. Considering the Ducks just moved Jamie Drysdale to the Flyers, Niemela could help re-stock their defensive corps on the right side moving forward.
The aforementioned 2024 first-round pick could be in play for Treliving ahead of the deadline, however the veteran GM won’t be interested in moving the pick unless an impact player with some term left on their deal is coming the other way. Is 1.5 years of Vatrano enough to bite?
Nevertheless, the Ducks and Leafs make a ton of sense as trade partners based solely on how the Ducks are selling and have multiple options and various positions, all in which the Leafs could use some help in. Treliving is going to have to decide how much he’s willing to give up, which as it stands right now is the biggest question mark surrounding the Leafs GM heading into the deadline.
Recent articles from Shane Seney