Which players should Brad Treliving be willing to part with?

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski - USA Today
Bennett Jull
9 months ago
We are less than a week away from the 2023 NHL draft in Nashville. Multiple teams have recently explored the trade market, and there are many more transactions on the horizon. Heading into Wednesday night, I wanted to compile a list of assets that Brad Treliving could be willing to part with at the draft. This is part 1, where we examine the current players under contract (or restricted free agents) in the organization.
Before we dive into it, let’s address the core 4. Treliving simply would not be doing his job if he wasn’t listening to any incoming offers that involved them. That being said, I personally don’t believe he should be actively shopping any of them. If there is a team that is desperate to add one of the four, of course, that notion should be entertained. Trading one of them for the sake of breaking the core up is not something I personally agree with. Now, onto the rest.
NHL Forwards
Knies – Matthews – Marner
??? – Tavares – Nylander
??? – Lafferty – Jarnkrok
The three players beyond the core 4 are Matthew Knies, Sam Lafferty, and Calle Jarnkrok. Knies is basically untouchable, and under no circumstances will Treliving be looking to part with him. Calle Jarnkrok had a strong regular season last year and is signed for another three seasons at $2.1M per year, which is pretty good value. Jarnkrok was quiet in the playoffs, and the Leafs will hope he can deliver more next spring. Lafferty has another year left at $1.15M. While he endured an up-and-down couple of months in the blue and white, I love this contract, and later this summer I’ll touch upon why I believe he is poised to break out. Neither Lafferty nor Jarnkrok are players Treliving will be looking to trade, particularly because there are only seven NHL forwards currently on the roster.
Forwards On The Cusp
McMann – Holmberg – Robertson
Steeves – Abruzzese – Clifford
Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is a restricted free agent, and there have been whispers about him returning to Russia. As his rights are being held by KHL club Torpedo, it appears he may sign another contract in Toronto. SDA is the furthest player away in this group from playing full-time for the Leafs, and the 22-year-old does not hold much trade value. Kyle Clifford’s best days are behind him, and while he managed to factor in a couple of games with the Leafs last year, he will spend the bulk of this season as a leader with the Marlies.
McMann and Steeves have many of the necessary qualities needed to play on the fourth line. Both will be pushing to crack the roster, and I think McMann is capable of seriously pushing for a spot. Abruzzese had some very solid stretches last year in the AHL. He played in a couple of games with the Leafs, and he’ll be looking to dominate the AHL this year. Abruzzese is 24 years old now, and this season feels like a make-or-break year for the former Harvard man.
Pontus Holmberg will be pushing hard for a spot on opening night. Last season when his number was called, he displayed poise and decision-making far beyond his years. He played in 37 games last year with Leafs, and his steady game will be knocking on the door to assert himself as a full-time regular.
None of the aforementioned players hold a ton of trade value. This leaves us with Nick Robertson. While he has definitely endured his fair share of injuries, the sharp-shooting American is still only 21 years old… his dogged work ethic and offensive ability make him an intriguing player. If he can just stay healthy, he is good enough to play in the NHL for many teams. His tender age and pedigree could entice teams to take a chance on him. He likely wouldn’t be the main piece, but certainly an interesting addition to a trade package.
NHL Defencemen 
Morgan Rielly – TJ Brodie
Jake McCabe – Timothy Liljegren
Mark Giordano – Conor Timmins
With the loss of Schenn, Holl, and Gustafsson, Toronto’s d-core is in need of some additions. Recently, I touched upon what Toronto could learn from Vegas and the assets I think Treliving should consider trading reflect that. To start, Morgan Rielly and Mark Giordano aren’t going anywhere. Rielly is signed long-term, and Giordano is more than likely entering the final season of his career. Giordano deserves credit for how he played last year. When the backend was banged up, he stepped up in a massive way. His minutes should be monitored this year, as it looked like he ran out of steam when the playoffs came.
Jake McCabe is signed through this year at a bargain $2M. He offers a physical presence and some mobility, and I think we will see the best of him this season. Treliving will certainly not be shopping him. Conor Timmins and Timothy Liljegren are both right-handed defencemen that don’t offer much in the way of physicality. Both players are 24, and I think Treliving should look at dealing one of them. Liljegren will be an RFA at the end of the upcoming season and is making $1.4M. He had some strong stretches and some poor ones last season, and Toronto will be counting on him to another step forward this year (barring being traded). Timmins is signed at a very friendly $1.1M for the next two seasons. He showed enough during his limited usage to warrant being a welcomed throw-in to a trade. The Leafs have drafted and developed Liljegren, and he offers more of a complete game than Timmins.
TJ Brodie is a very interesting case. He did not have his best playoffs, and he’s entering the final year of his contract. In terms of viewing him purely as an asset, you wouldn’t want to lose him for nothing at the end of the season. Throughout Brodie’s time in Toronto, he has been brilliant. He is consistently relied upon to neutralize the opponent’s best players and has generated elite results over the span of his time wearing blue and white.
On the contrary, he did have a poor end to last season, and he is entering the final year of his contract. He is 33 years old, and perhaps expectations should be tempered as he ages. It should also be noted that this year Brodie has a 10-team no-trade list. In years prior, Brodie had a no-trade clause. Brad Treliving and TJ Brodie have lots of history. How that factors in, time will tell. Treliving should at least consider moving Brodie, mostly due to his expiring contract.
Samsonov – Woll
This will be brief. Samsonov will be re-signed, and he and Joseph Woll will be Toronto’s tandem this season. Treliving will need to figure out a way to get rid of Matt Murray’s contract. Whether it’s via trade or a buyout, Murray won’t be part of the Leafs next season.
There will certainly be lots of change next year come opening night. This will be the biggest turnover we have seen in a while in terms of players, and management. The goaltending is a foregone conclusion, as Samsonov’s contract should be pretty routine, and Matt Murray’s time with the Leafs is certainly up. I don’t foresee any of the signed forwards that featured in the playoffs being dealt. Nick Robertson is a player that could drum up some interest, and I could see him being a welcomed throw-in to a deal. On defence, Treliving will have to decide what to do with TJ Brodie. Having both Timmins and Liljegren feels somewhat redundant, and I think Treliving should consider adding Timmins to possible trades.
Tomorrow I will look at what prospects and draft picks Toronto has, and which I would consider including in possible trade packages.

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