The task is clear, improve the defense, not just for the stretch drive but for years to come.
The question being asked is how, and who, you target to accomplish that.
For starters, it appears that GM Kyle Dubas has seen enough of Tyson Barrie, and while he isn’t pushing him out the door, he’d certainly entertain the idea of moving on from the offensive defender if he could find a player that he deems a better fit for the team.
ICYMI, INSIDER TRADING: #TSNHockey Insiders discuss…— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) February 21, 2020
🏒 Leafs talking Barrie trade?
🏒#Canucks & Stecher; Simmonds
🏒 Pageau/Sens talking contract; Namestnikov on deck
🏒 Habs with/without Kovalchuk
🏒 Oilers’ cheap F options
WATCH 🌍: https://t.co/AN8576gFdQ#TradeCentre pic.twitter.com/4JqB1EsiXa
The emergence of Rasmus Sandin as a candidate to quarter back the teams 2nd powerplay unit, and knowing that Morgan Rielly can handle the task of running unit 1 when he returns from injury, has most likely lead to management considering him as a trade candidate. On top of that Barrie simply hasn’t fit in as a partner with any of the Leafs left shot defenders. He has spent time with all of Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, Travis Dermott, and Rasmus Sandin, and he just hasn’t clicked with any of them.
Even more than all of that, the price for rental defenders this year is high. Marco Scandella fetched a 2nd round pick as well as a conditional 4th round pick from the St. Louis Blues, Brendan Dillon garnered 2nd and 3rd round picks on his way to Washington, Dylan Demelo cost the Winnipeg Jets a 3rd round pick and Alec Martinez, while not being a rental because he has an additional year on his contract, came at the price of two 2nd round picks from Vegas. Barrie should return more than any of those players, and considering how unlikely it is that he’ll re-sign it just makes sense for them to consider moving on from him at this time.
Teams that are rumoured to be interested in Barries services include the Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, Vegas Golden Knights, and Carolina Hurricanes.
Frank Seravalli on teams interested in Tyson Barrie. pic.twitter.com/D50IwDjojn— Ah yes, the Leafs. (@LeafsAllDayy) February 22, 2020
We’ll see how this develops but if I were a betting man I’d put my money on Barrie remaining in a Leafs jersey for the rest of the season.
In other news the Leafs may end up improving their blueline (slightly) through a UFA signing, and not a trade at all.
Zach Bogosian wasn’t living up to his contract in Buffalo, and after being waived and refusing to report to the Sabres AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, he was placed on unconditional waivers and had his contract terminated. That leaves the big defender as an unrestricted free agent. He needs to sign with an NHL team before the end of the deadline in order to be eligible to play in the playoffs, and the Leafs are rumoured to be interested.
Assuming Bogosian clears unconditional waivers today, I expect he will wait until Monday to decide where he wants to play for the remainder of the season. Toronto, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Winnipeg are among the strong contenders.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) February 22, 2020
This isn’t a player that will magically fix all the Leafs defensive problems by any means, but he’d be a good, tough, depth option for a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth right now. With Martin Marincin dressing in NHL games you need to get whatever you can in order to keep that from happening.
Good thing the Leafs can rely on Martin Marincin in the first round pic.twitter.com/U9ImcIF76r— Mr. Kyle Clifford #73 (@TheLeafsSeason) February 19, 2020
^^^ That’s a goal against.
There are rumours about the Leafs and the Anaheim Ducks’ Josh Manson, but I’m going to speed through this one, as it appears the Ducks would be willing to move on from Manson only if it’s an overpayment.
Manson is a good player, and would likely be a great fit on this team, but you shouldn’t overpay for players unless they’re elite, and he doesn’t fit the criteria of elite defender.
However, he does this for his teammates…..
The beautiful game pic.twitter.com/sC4Ff6z9qF— Hockey Central (@HockeyCentraI) February 17, 2020
…. and that would be great to add to a team that could use some more grit.
Another player that isn’t getting the press but would be a solid addition for the team is New Jerseys Damon Severson.
The right shot defender is signed for 3 more seasons after this one at a reasonable 4.17M per year. He has good size, mobility, and is good in all 3 zones. He isn’t a super star by any means but he’ll help a team in need. The cost could be high based on his ability to play the PK, PP, big minutes (nearly 23 minutes a night this year), and, again, his being signed for so long. That type of cost certainty isn’t cheap.
If the Leafs can somehow get him in blue and white they’ll have improved their team, no doubt.
Lastly is the defender that I would be most excited about the team adding. Another Buffalo Sabre, Rasmus Ristolainen.
It’s very unlikely that this deal will happen and even if it does it’s more likely that it’s an offseason move.
However, Pierre Lebrun did say the two teams discussed it, so it’s not completely out of the question.
Brian Burke once said that while he was with the Calgary Flames he pulled out of a deal for Ristolainen because his analytics group called the defender a “disaster.” If Kyle Dubas is truly high on advanced stats this could be nothing more than smoke and mirrors in order to generate clicks and promote viewership.
With that said Ristolainen bring size, offense, grit, and compete to his game. He could be a very good fit or a complete bust. Very interesting debates will ensue if he ends up in Toronto I’m sure.
That covers most of the defenders that the Leafs are tied to, however, there is a forward among the list as well.
Vladislav Namestnikov, of the Ottawa Senators, has been linked to the Leafs. The left winger is a pending UFA that makes over 3M per season, so I would expect the Senators to retain salary if he were to be acquired. He has 13 goals and 25pts in 54 games for the Senators this season, so he’d be a depth add more than anything.
Things may have changed after the Leafs landed Denis Malgin, but depth is never a bad thing to have, so maybe they are still kicking tires here.
Everything above was written before last nights debacle and after seeing the reaction from Kyle Dubas…..
I now wonder if he’d be much more inclined to pull a much bigger deal. The timing won’t be right, it would have to be a move made in the off season if it involved one of the big 4 forwards because he simply doesn’t have the time left before Monday to put something together but holy….. is it ever time for a major shakeup after the embarrassment that was that …… thing.
Craig Buttons Take On The Maple Leafs Ahead of the Trade Deadline
Stay tuned here for any Maple Leafs updates as we approach the NHL Trade Deadline.
“The fact that Tyson Barrie is on this trade bait list at all gives you an idea of what Kyle Dubas thinks of where this team is…”@frank_seravalli & @CraigJButton on if Saturday’s embarrassing loss leads to major changes for the Leafs https://t.co/XDrCDrPi2a #TradeCentre pic.twitter.com/bvZl7ie7rS— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) February 23, 2020