The trade deadline hasn’t led to increased confidence in the Maple Leafs

Photo credit:Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 month ago
For better or worse the trade deadline is now in the rearview mirror and while the results of the effort or lack thereof won’t fully be known until the after the last playoff game, the moves made by Brad Treliving and Co. will certainly change some perceptions of the Leafs and warrant us doing another confidence check on the team.
We’ve gone back to the TLN tribunal to answer: How would you rate the Maple Leafs deadline and how confident are you in the Leafs playoff chances and why?

Bennett Jull:

6/10. They added a couple of blueliners that undoubtedly will make the team better. I’m curious to see what pairings are used in the playoffs considering there are more than 6 NHL capable dmen. I love the Dewar move, I’m hoping he improves the penalty kill, and his energy/defensive reliability improves the bottom 6. That being said, I hoped there would be a bigger move. Could a package have been made for a forward like Boone Jenner? Was a stud on the back end like Adam Larsson a possible situation? I just wish they had pushed more chips towards the middle of the table, like we saw other teams do.
I’m not overly confident. I believe they can win a round, but I don’t think they are better than Florida, Carolina, or the Rangers, who all had solid deadlines. Boston is Boston, and that will be a war. I won’t even get into the Western Conference, where I count 6 squads that are as good or better than the Maple Leafs, in my opinion.

Michael Mazzei:

4/10 The rating has nothing to do with the players acquired prior to the deadline. Ilya Lyubushkin is a familiar face that should bring some physicality on the back end and help elevate Morgan Rielly’s game in a similar vein to what Luke Schenn did last year. Joel Edmundson will be a menance to play against for the opposition and his sandpaper playstyle matches the type of blueline that Brad Treliving is looking for. And Connor Dewar is a solid addition to the bottom six which should give the Leafs a boost on the PK and defensively. The reason for my rating being so low is due to fact that the Leafs likely face an uphill battle against their likely first round opponent in the Bruins and their two recent games against them do not inspire much confidence that the outcome will be any different from the previous three encounters. I am not saying the Leafs shouldn’t have made those additions cause they should definitely help, but it likely will all be for naught given who they will likely be facing in the spring. At least they didn’t give up their first for a rental.

Arun Srinivasan:

5/10. In a vacuum, the acquisition costs for Joel Edmundson, Ilya Lyubushkin and Connor Dewar are fine!  But the NHL isn’t played in a vacuum and Treliving sat too idly by as the Bruins, Lightning, Hurricanes, Rangers, Oilers, Stars, Golden Knights and Avalanche among others made significant improvements to their team. There’s an idea that the Maple Leafs shouldn’t have traded their 2024 first-round pick but first-rounders are inherently less valuable than teams with Cup aspirations and Toronto barely made a dent to their top-six forward corps or top-four defense pairings. Treliving believes in this year’s team which is a nice, reassuring quality to have but it also betrays a real competitive spirit where the contenders are looking within the margins.
Any team that boasts Auston Matthews and William Nylander playing at top-10 levels has a genuine chance and the Maple Leafs at their best are a flamethrower of a hockey club. But given the NHL’s goofy playoff format, which tries to artificially conjure up divisional rivalries, the Maple Leafs, barring a torrential final 20 games, are facing a Bruins team with elite goaltending, and a Panthers team with no discernible weaknesses. I believe in the Core Five, but Treliving didn’t do enough to elevate the group as their primary rivals improved and widened the gap in the division.

Vicken Polatian:

8/10 The more I think about the deadline, the more comfortable I am with Brad Treliving staying patient. There is ONE move that was made on deadline day, that I wish Toronto could have been involved in, and that was Tyler Toffoli, but the Leafs don’t have a 2nd round pick for the next 3 seasons, so even that wouldn’t have been possible.
Edmundson, and Lyubushkin were brought in to help clear the crease, and I admit, I wasn’t the biggest fan of these types of players in the past. Playoff hockey is different, and we saw that in the series with the Panthers last season.
I know people wanted a big splash like Parayko, but he didn’t even get traded. The first round pick is also still available to move ahead of the draft if necessary, and if not Treliving is already 1 for 1 on picking late 1st rounders.
Nothing done at the deadline would have put this team over the top. Here’s hoping the moves made for “playoff-type” players in Bertuzzi, and Domi pay dividends in April.

Shane Seney:

6.5/10. I thought moving the first-round pick was a must this year. The draft is weak on talent after the first 12 picks or so; and with the window to win wide open, and it being a buyers market, I thought Treliving may be able to pull something big off. Adding Lyubushkin and Edmundson gives the Leafs a new look on D, and that was much needed. So I do like those adds and I’m a big fan of Connor Dewar’s game. He’ll win some fans over with his motor and should help the PK, as with both new D. The cap crunch got in the way from the sounds of it and there’s not much Treliving could do about it.
I’m still optimistic this team can do some damage. They’ve shown for stretches this season that they can dominate any team and it’s all going to come down to the big guns producing and timely saves. There’s a ton of pressure on Keefe to get this right and he needs to emphasis some line and D pair chemistry down the stretch which will be tough considering all the internal competition now in place.  Liljegren and Brodie need a reset and maybe they sit a game or two to send a message.  All in all, Treliving added minor pieces with his hands tied and this team is only going as far as the core will take them.

Jon Steitzer:

5/10. I’m very much splitting the difference on this. The trades for Dewar, Edmundson, and Lyubushkin didn’t cost the Leafs a lot and while 3rd round picks are somewhat important, they can be recouped and not something that needs to be cried over. All the players are fine but none of them addressed a pressing issue with the Leafs, it was just a lot of depth and if you’ve been paying attention to Brad Treliving making depth moves at the trade deadline is kinda his thing. Putting teams over the top, not so much.
So that’s where I take a lot of issue with the Leafs deadline. If you’ve built a flawed team you should be motivated to fix it. Re-signing David Kampf, signing Ryan Reaves, and especially signing John Klingberg is building a flawed team and digging a hole for a team in win now mode. Also, when you haven’t won anything as a GM, I’m not sure you get the benefit of people just accepting your philosophy that team building happens in the offseason not at the trade deadline. Maybe it comes down to Treliving still being the guy who targeted John Klingberg and the Leafs might be better off with him not dealing first round picks or prospects in a limited market.
When it comes to feeling more confident about the Leafs, I wouldn’t say much has changed and the flaws on the Leafs are still there. Some additional depth allows for more accountability and Toronto can either hold their depth players more accountable, play the top performers or customize the lineup to what is best suited to their opponents. That’s a nice theory anyway but David Kampf plays too much for me to be confident that there is accountability or knowledge of what an optimal lineup looks like.
No one should be writing off the Leafs or looking at them as an easy out in the playoffs but the Maple Leafs are not the best built or best coached team in the playoffs and history raises doubts about the team having another gear to kick it into that is needed for a run in the spring.
What do you think of the Leafs deadline and how confident are you in this group heading into the playoffs. Fill up our comment section with your thoughts.
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