Rumours: A buyer’s market for defense and the search for secondary scoring

Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
Here we are ten games into the season, and ready to kick off a season filled with trade rumours. Who doesn’t love speculation? Oh, most people. That’s fine. Especially when the Leafs are doing well it’s not always easy to think about upgrades, the playoffs, the expansion draft, free agency, and beyond.
Still, what we’re starting to see is the trade market picking up. And with the Laine/Dubois trade serving as evidence that teams aren’t going to let a 14 day quarantine slow them down, we might as well start considering what the Leafs could be up to.

Speculation around Dermott

While it’s not a locked in trade rumour, there was speculation from Thomas Drance of The Athletic that Dermott could address the need for a defenseman in Vancouver.
Dermott isn’t a dynamic player on the same level as Dunn, but where the Blues want a pick and have no need to take a player in return, the Maple Leafs are looking for a top-nine capable forward. Meanwhile, Vancouver currently has two players — in Gaudette and Virtanen — who scored at a 40-point pace last season currently rotating in and out of the lineup.
Drance mentions that Dermott might not be the favoured option in Vancouver, and that he’s potentially not a fit, but the suggested return of Jake Virtanen might appeal to some Leafs fans, based on the name recognition and the fact that he plays a physical game that is lacking from the Leafs.
There’s also the small matter of the fact that Dermott has been pretty darn good for the Leafs, and keeping him in the lineup should be the priority at this point. As much as Lehtonen is an unknown that we are excited for the upside on, and he certainly had a nice goal line save and assist on Saturday night, Dermott is clearly the better option at this point.
Factor in the Leafs situation heading into the expansion draft, and the need for injury depth, giving up on a NHL caliber defender prematurely to address an issue that might be covered off by the return of Thornton and Robertson seems like bad GMing. I’d count of Dermott sticking around, especially while the Rielly-Brodie pairing remains unpredictable.
Finally, on why we should probably cool it with Dermott, with Victor Mete and Vince Dunn readily available at the moment, there are teams more actively in a sell position than the Leafs. The biggest argument for shopping Dermott might be to see what Toronto has in Sandin, and to do right by Dermott and find him an every day playing situation. In that case I’d assume they’d be looking at Western U.S. trade partners so the Leafs don’t have to face Dermott anytime soon.

Chiasson on waivers

Alex Chiasson is readily available from the Edmonton Oilers. It should be noted that the Leafs can’t afford to add him outright, so I’m not suggesting they are going to make a claim. What I am suggesting is the Leafs may consider a deal for Chiasson after the fact to bring him in, if it’s possible to make room for him through shuffling salary around or getting the Oilers to retain. My guess is this isn’t something in the cards, but a sizeable secondary scorer for the bottom six is something that fits with what Toronto has been looking for.

Sam Bennett requested a trade?

While the Flames are denying that there has been a formal request, there were reports that his agent, (the infamous) Darren Ferris has suggested Bennett needs a change of scenery.
Bennett hasn’t been particularly good, and certainly hasn’t been living up to his contract. He seemingly isn’t living up to his contract, but with a change of scenery which might include trying him in additional scoring situations rather than bottom six roles might yield better results than he’s had in Calgary.
My guess is there really isn’t a way of making Bennett’s contract work, and the Leafs interest in doing more business with Darren Ferris is probably minimal as well, but it’s not surprising that Leafs fans have been drawn to Bennett as a potential option. I just wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for this to happen unless the Flames inexplicably want to retain salary, or want to take back salary in return, but good luck finding salary the Leafs want to jettison where Bennett is the return.
While I have little doubt the Leafs will be active in acquiring players this season, especially towards the deadline, making moves now seems premature. For now the focus will be on getting Robertson, Thornton, and Campbell back.

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