Maple Leafs trade targets part 1: Pacific Division
Photo credit:© Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
By Bennett Jull22 days ago
March 3rd is fast approaching. All of the rumours and questions of who gets moved and where will be answered by Friday. Every day this week before the deadline I will analyze which players in each division the Leafs should contemplate targeting (within reason of course). Up first, let’s head out West and analyze the Pacific division.
I thought it would be fitting to start with the division Toronto visits this week. The Pacific division is tightly contested, with the top five teams separated by approximately ten points. Each of these five teams (Vegas, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Seattle, and Calgary) has playoff aspirations. The bottom three teams (Vancouver, San Jose, and Anaheim) are well and truly out of the race.
When analyzing this division it’s obvious that the bottom three teams are in a position to trade away more pieces in search of draft capital, prospects, young players, or reclamation projects. These teams will need to maximize their assets over the coming days in order to best position themselves going forward. Below are my top five players (in no order) to target from the Pacific, with a few honourable mentions as well.
#1. Carson Soucy
Soucy would be a shrewd addition to the Maple Leafs blue line. Seattle is flirting with the playoffs and while they aren’t ‘sellers’, it might be wise for them to capitalize on an expiring asset. Soucy will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. The Kraken very recently acquired Jaycob Megna for a 4th round pick. Megna’s contract runs until the end of next year at a very reasonable $762,500 cap hit. It appears Seattle may be looking to deal Soucy given how similar their two styles are. Both are responsible in their own end, both bring tons of size (Soucy is 6’5, Megna is 6’6) and both shoot left. Soucy blocks shots and plays a physical style of hockey, and I think he would be a solid addition to a d-core that probably needs to get bigger/more physical. I believe he could slide onto a second pairing but would be a very solid half of a 3rd pair.
#2. Nick Bonino
Bonino Bonino Bonino. The veteran has played over 800 games in the NHL amassing over 350 points. He has scored 10 goals this year and added 9 assists in 57 games so far on a bad overall Sharks team. More importantly, he has won two Stanley Cups and was an integral part of both playoff runs with Pittsburgh. He can take face-offs, kill penalties, and could play on either of the bottom two lines. His contract expires this season, and San Jose will likely deal him before the deadline.
#3. Sean Durzi
Hear me out… The Kings are loaded with right-shot defencemen. Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, Sean Walker and Sean Durzi all shoot right. Los Angeles has been heavily rumoured with Jakob Chychrun, and bringing him in could make at least one of the right-sided players expendable. It’s plausible that Durzi could head back the other way, but Arizona would be much more inclined to look at one of LA’s young talented prospects, of which they have many (Brandt Clarke, Jordan Spence, Alex Turcotte, Alex Lafarriere, Francesco Pinelli, Helge Grans, Samuel Fagemo, others as well). The Kings are loaded with prospects, and Arizona wants to be as bad as possible (Bedard sweepstakes) meaning they should be more inclined to add players that would help them later, not now. I think there could be an opportunity to target Durzi, someone that Dubas is obviously very familiar with. His contract is $1.7M per year and expires at the end of next season. The Leafs would have him for another year, and even a little bit of term is attractive. He is a solid right-sided option, and adding him to the mix would improve their back end.
#4. Steven Lorentz
Lorentz is the most unknown name on this list. The big hulking forward came through the Carolina Hurricanes organization (which is definitely a positive). Having been drafted in the 7th round, Lorentz has overcome the odds and played 170 NHL games to this point. The 26-year-old plays a very physical style, and at 6’4 his size would be a welcome addition. Originally I wasn’t sure if Toronto should target Lorentz, but with Boston adding Hathaway and Tampa Bay adding Jeannot, I do believe they need a little more physicality. Lorentz’s cap hit is $1.05M this year and next which would give the Leafs a cheap 4th line option. San Jose will be looking to part with as many of their players as they can, and I think he’s definitely worth exploring.
#5. Luke Schenn
Ah yes, Mr. Schenn. This list wouldn’t be complete without him on it. We are all familiar with Schenn and his game. He brings a level of physicality that the Leafs desperately need, particularly since Jake Muzzin was injured months ago. It’s a foregone conclusion that Vancouver will deal him to the highest bidder. I thought Tampa Bay was the most likely landing spot, but they gave up an absolute haul to land Jeannot. Whoever does land Luke Schenn will receive a huge boost in the physicality department, and get a player with a Stanley Cup ring.
Honourable mentions: Connor Garland, Anthony Stolarz, Adam Henrique
Garland is an intriguing player, but unless Vancouver retained 50% of his salary, his cap his is far too steep. The same goes for Henrique, a player I quite like. A veteran now, Henrique could slide into the 3rd line (maybe 2nd line?) with relative ease. Anthony Stolarz is someone Anaheim probably should trade. Lukas Dostal is their future in net, and John Gibson likely isn’t going anywhere (for now). Stolarz would provide depth in net should Matt Murray have any further injury setbacks between now and Friday.
Of the five players mentioned, Soucy and Schenn are both solid options on expiring contracts. I would be very surprised if Dubas and his team have not already kicked tires on both players. There are probably better veteran players out there than Bonino to target, however, his longevity and Stanley Cup pedigree are impressive, and can’t be disputed. Sean Durzi (or Matt Roy/Sean Walker) might have Chychrun joining a crowded blue line. For a team that is likely playoff bound, could Dubas entice the Kings with one of his expiring contracts (Kerfoot, Engvall, Holl) in return for Durzi? Lorentz is a player that I like, although I would prefer if the Leafs targeted someone else in his mold (cough cough, Sam Lafferty).
If the Leafs ended up with any of Soucy, Schenn, or Durzi, I would be happy. Tune back in tomorrow to see Part Two – the Atlantic Division.
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