With Toffoli, Zucker, and Trenin off the board, which names are still available for the Maple Leafs to trade for?

Photo credit:© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
4 months ago
After acquiring defenceman Joel Edmundson from the Washington Capitals on Thursday morning, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been reported to be in the market for a forward with some grit who can kill penalties. There’s been nothing but radio silence from the Leafs’ end on the transaction front today, aside from assigning Matthew Knies to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies in a paper transaction for the purpose of opening up some cap flexibility. The Anaheim Ducks also claimed defenceman William Lagesson off waivers from the Maple Leafs, who had seen his role diminished following the acquisitions of Edmundson and Ilya Lyubushkin.
Things around the NHL have been up and down, however. The most notable name off the board has to be Tyler Toffoli, who was traded to the Winnipeg Jets for a second round pick and a third round pick. He was the number one target on Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli’s trade board, and while he wouldn’t have necessarily fit the Leafs’ need of a penalty killer with grit, he still would have been a solid addition in terms of providing some secondary scoring.
We also saw Arizona Coyotes forward Jason Zucker traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a sixth round pick, which seems like a cheap price until you realize the Predators are absorbing the entirety of his $5.9 million cap hit. The Predators also traded forward Yakov Trenin, another penalty killing option, to the Colorado Avalanche for a third round pick and prospect defenceman Jeremy Hanzel.
With these names off the board, who is still available for the Leafs to pick up that would fit their needs up front? If you’re looking in the direction of a Toffoli-type, players like Max Pacioretty and Frank Vatrano fit the bill. If you’re looking at players more of the speed of Trenin, there’s Lars Eller, Nic Dowd, and Alexey Toropchenko, to name a few.

Max Pacioretty

Pacioretty is an interesting name, if nothing else. The 35-year-old has had trouble battling the injury bug going back to his time with the Vegas Golden Knights and the four games he spent with the Carolina Hurricanes. He’s only making $2 million on a one-year contract, and it’s been reported that he’s willing to waive his no-move clause to open up a potential deal to a contender.
The longtime Montreal Canadien has 16 points in 25 games this season, and while he wouldn’t be a help to the penalty kill, he would give them a legitimate option for their middle six and yet another power play presence for a team that’s struggled mightily when it comes to getting timely special teams scoring in the playoffs. He might be worth a look if he’s willing to waive that no-move clause, but it may not be worth the price if there’s a bidding war considering his age and durability issues.

Frank Vatrano

Vatrano is another name that comes off as tempting, but I wouldn’t expect the Leafs to be a serious contender for him. The Massachusetts product has 29 goals and 49 points in 62 games for what’s been a breakout season for the 29-year-old. His $3.65 million cap hit is intriguing, especially considering there’s a year left on his contract after this season, which is something that Leafs GM Brad Treliving has expressed a desire for in his targets. That said, there are big-game players out there who are likely going to both have more to offer and more of a dire need for another scorer. He’s still an option if nothing else, but probably isn’t somebody the Leafs are keeping legitimate tabs on.
Lars Eller
The Leafs of 2023-24 have yet to swing a deal with their former GM, Kyle Dubas, but with the recent departure of Jake Guentzel to the Carolina Hurricanes, it looks like he’s made the official call to sell at the deadline.
Eller carries a reasonable cap hit at $2.45 million for this year and next, and has 12 goals along with strong faceoff ability and penalty killing talents. The Leafs’ penalty kill is in desparate need of help ahead of the deadline and would fit their original reported needs, but as the tweet above states, Dubas’ asking price isn’t known. The addition of a bottom-six centre who can push Max Domi to the wing and bring some defensive stability up the middle would be a great addition for the Leafs, but there’s not much to be said in terms of what a guy like him might cost to acquire.
Nic Dowd
If there’s anybody to keep an eye on before the 3:00pm (or technically 3:30pm) eastern time deadline, Dowd would be my vote. The Leafs already swung a deal with the aforementioned Capitals yesterday, bringing in Edmundson, and Dowd has been touted as arguably the best penalty-killer still available. The Athletic Leafs reporter James Mirtle seems to think there’s some rumblings in the media circle.
Dowd is absolutely not the type of player the Leafs should be getting into a bidding war for, but at the same time, they could for sure use his penalty-killing talents and faceoff ability. He brings a reasonable level of offence for a bottom-six player, with eight goals and 16 points in 45 games, and would serve the same purpose as Eller. Keep an eye on this one.
Alexey Toropchenko
If you want to know why the Leafs should be high on St. Louis Blues’ forward Alexey Toropchenko, you’re better off asking my colleague, Michael Mazzei, who’s spent a reasonable amount of time doing research on him and pushing the agenda. The 6-foot-6 Russian is gritty, can kill penalties, and play on your third line or fourth line. He’s on the books for another year at $1.25 million, and has a unique combination of size, speed, and physicality. The term is certainly attractive to Treliving, but how much they would be willing to pay or how much the Blues even want to dangle him is unknown. Either way, he’s the type of player who would perfectly fit what this team is looking for.
For all of your trade deadline needs, head to DailyFaceoff.com.

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