Just for fun, we’ll talk about this juicy little nugget:
Let’s begin by talking about the big fish from each team, because really, thats who you want the Leafs to trade for.
The first player on the majority of Leafs fans’ wish list is Philadephia’s Travis Konecny. The London, Ontario native is signed for 2 more seasons after this year and would be a massive boost to the teams top 6 forward group. He plays with drive and is having a career year with 20 goals and 40pts in 33 games to date. He has the speed, skill and tenacity that the Leafs are looking for in their top 6 and would definitely improve any aspirations of going deep in the playoffs this spring. The only downside is a familiar one for Leafs Nation. If you’re spending in your top 6, you have to sacrifice from your depth. That’s exactly what they’d have to do here, as the salary cap simply wouldn’t allow them to add him without sending money out, but if it means losing players like Kerfoot or Engvall, it’s a pill that this fanbase can swallow.
James Van Riemsdyk
The former Toronto Maple Leaf is also having a good year in Philadelphia, with 6 goals and 16pts in 19 games played. Fans here will be very familiar with JVR and know that he could be a fit alongside John Tavares and Mitch Marner. It isn’t the sexiest name, as we’ve been there and done that (with plenty of failure) before, but JVR is big, can score goals and would be cheap in terms of top 6 rentals. With 50% retained, he would come in at a modest 3.5M caphit. He isn’t about to add grit to the lineup, which is exactly what I think this team is missing, so I’m not a big fan of this option, but its tough not to think that this is who they could be looking at when you consider the teams need for a legitimate top 6 left winger.
If Jake Muzzin isn’t coming back, this team could get serious about adding another big time defender and Chychrun is the biggest one on the market. With 18pts in 22GP, hes off to a hot start after missing the beginning of the year to injury. The question on every sceptics lips isn’t about how good Chychrun is though, it’s about how good he is for this roster. He isn’t drawing in on the PK this year, as he has before, but is playing big minutes on the PP. With Rielly, Sandin, Timmins and Giordano, the Leafs aren’t exactly in need of another powerplay defender, but, instead, could use somebody that can help clear the net of pesky forwards in the post season. At the end of the day, if they add Chychrun it will be hard to hate it. He’s a terrific player, but he’s also going to cost a fortune to trade for and may not be the best fit for this roster. Tough reality to face for those that have pined for him for a long time.
I’ve spoken about Crouse before and will happily do it again. The 6’4″, 220lb Mount Brydges native would be the ideal fit for the Leafs in my opinion. For well over a decade I’ve spoken about the Leafs’ need for a “skilled enforcer” and this is about as skilled as they come. With 20 goals last season and being on pace for 31 this year, Crouse knows where the net is. Mitch Marner would have a field day playing with a guy like that, as he’d simply have to set him up for tap-in after tap-in, as he drives to the net. He’s more than that though. He has been a regular contributor to Arizona’s penalty killing unit for years, brings the required grit and speed to help the top 6 and is locked in for four more seasons at a reasonable 4.3M caphit. Lastly, his fighting resume includes tilts with the likes of Austin Watson, Pat Maroon and Adam Lowry. At a time where enforcers are all but extinct, these are some of the most willing combatants in the NHL today.
The Less Popular Names…..
Those are probably the most talked about players from either team, but there are some players that could help the Leafs, that seem to be flying under the radar. Scott Laughton could be a terrific option, as he’d being the right kind of grit and determination to a playoff roster, while also being able to help your powerplay and penalty kill. He’d add depth scoring and is signed for 3 more years with a 3M caphit. Nick Bjugstad is far removed from being considered a high end prospect, but the 6’6″ forward has good hands, is willing to push his way around the rink and can contribute in a depth scoring role. Its possible that he could improve the Holmberg line, as the rookie has seen a number of wingers come and go, without any being able to stick. Nick Schmaltz could be a stealthy move, as injuries have made him fly under the radar for most fans. Between this season and last, he has played a combined 85 games, but has managed to score 30 goals and 77pts in that span. He has only ever played for the Blackhawks and Coyotes, so has drawn into just 4 playoff games in his career, way back in his 2016-17 rookie season, so its impossible to tell if he can raise his game when it matters. Also, for a player that always seems to be banged up, its tough to say if he could make it through a long, physical playoff run, but hes a very talented player and is signed for 3 more seasons at 5.85M. As with Konecny, I’m not sure the Leafs can afford that, but his name has to be mentioned.
As for defenders, there aren’t many to talk about, but depth pieces such as Josh Brown and Troy Stetcher from Arizona could be on Dubas’ radar, while the veteran Justin Braun might be of interest out of Philadelphia. If its depth that they’re after, these players fit the bill, but for the GM and head of player personnel to attend a game, they could be looking at a player thats more than just a depth addition.
What say you Leafs Nation? Who would be your ideal targets from the Flyers or Coyotes for your roster?