Okay, maybe it’s not ALL happening, but this is definitely a trade that makes you think there’s more to come and gives a little info about some other things.
For starters, Lehtonen appeared to be the clear #7 defender in the organization. After the Leafs assigned him to the Toronto Marlies yesterday, along with Alex Barabanov, Nic Petan and Timothy Liljegren, the general theory was that they wanted to get those players some game action and it just wasn’t happening at the moment with the big club.
Now we’re left to wonder if Martin Marincin is considered the 7th defender by management. Rasmus Sandin managed to get into one NHL game this year, but only saw 5 minutes of action. It’s possible that he could skip the queue if there’s an injury to one of the teams top 6, but GM Kyle Dubas and Head Coach Sheldon Keefe have placed a lot of trust in Marincin in the past, so to think that they have suddenly decided that he isn’t worthy of that trust any longer may be hopeful.
Due to that, it makes me think/hope that the team has another iron in the fire in terms of trading for a depth defender. In Elliotte Friedmans latest 31 Thoughts article he mentioned that the Leafs appeared to be in on just about every player in the league. You can read the full piece here:
But the part that I’m most interested in is this:
4. After Thursday, Toronto has five games in 14 days. It would not be a stunner if the Maple Leafs tried to make their move during this time to minimize quarantine on any player coming from the U.S. In the last week, Toronto’s been rumoured to be in on half the league, from Mattias Ekholm to Filip Forsberg to Mikael Granlund to Eric Staal to Marc Staal. We will see what GM Kyle Dubas decides to do.
It’s my personal belief that the team won’t spend big on a defender, so the cost to acquire a top 4 player, like Mattias Ekholm, will be too rich for the Leafs. They appear to be happy with their current top 4 of Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl, so I would assume that a veteran to play a depth role would fit the bill. For this reason Marc Staal makes some sense. He’s a rangy defender that could help the penalty kill and he wouldn’t cost a ton to acquire, but his 5.7M cap hit would be a hurdle. Anything is possible when you employ the likes of cap guru Brandon Pridham, but my simple understanding of the cap makes me think that the player would be a fit, but he’d be nearly impossible to fit onto the team.
If they’re going to bend over backwards to add a big contract, I think they’ll do it to add to their top 6 forwards.
It also brings a little attention to the depth goaltending in the organization. The acquisition of Vehvilvinvvvi….. Vehvinvinveviv…..
With the acquisition of Goalie V, we can see that the immediate future of Ian Scott is in trouble. The Leafs former 4th round selection hasn’t played a game since the 2018/19 season, where he was hurt in the playoffs. He’s listed as week-to-week at the moment with a groin injury, which is unrelated to what knocked him out of action nearly two years ago. But having this much time out of action is concerning, so the team felt it necessary to add depth to the position. Credit to Kyle Dubas for tapping into the European Soo yet again:
At the end of they day this is giving Lehtonen an opportunity to crack another lineup. He wasn’t getting playing time here and at 27 years old he needs opportunities sooner, rather than later, if he wants to make a run at an NHL career.
The silly season has started. This is my favourite time of year.
Now we’re left to wonder how much longer we have to wait to see more moves.
I broke this trade (you know it’s true) through hard work and dedication to the game. I’ll keep my ear to the ground and let you all know when/if I hear something again.
In the meantime have fun speculating!!