Let’s start with an initial truth. A 7-2-1 start to the season doesn’t require any change. Even with the deep injuries the Leafs sustained, they can refill and move on long enough. After determining that the Leafs are doing well, there are a few things we need to consider. The first is that the Leafs are reportedly looking to upgrade their secondary rating. There is also the fact that trades to be made this year are most likely to have a two week waiting period, which makes the trading deadline a real last chance day this year. The teams may want to act soon.
We asked the TLN crew if there were any potential targets or players that needed to be extradited for the Leafs to explore.
When the Leafs signed Mikko Lehtonen, it was much to the chagrin of the New Jersey Devils, who thought they were the frontrunners for the KHL’s best defender. We’re 8 games in the season now and Lehtonen is looking outside and seems to have lost Sheldon Keefe’s trust in favor of Travis Dermott and Zach Bogosian. Rasmus Sandin is also waiting in the starting blocks for an opportunity to play. There is a backend traffic jam, and if our defenders refuse to get hurt (which I all stand for) there has to be something at some point. So why not knock on the door of the team that only explored him a lot last season? My main target would be Miles Wood, who could be the hardest working player in the league outside of Zach Hyman. The 6’2 ”Wood plays with an edge and is a relentless trailblazer with a surprising talent for insults. If the Devils parted ways with him to get a package from Lehtonen and Engvall and maybe a draft-pick swap, I’d be completely exhausted.
Holding on to my guns, I repeat that Blake Coleman is exactly the player the Leafs could use in their forward unit. Still, I am aware that he is in his final year of his contract playing for a team that not only gave up some fortune to get him, but is months away from a Stanley Cup. So the probability that he will be over a hand trade is slim at best. Instead, I’d go back to LA and target a king who is in the final year of his current contract with Alex Iafallo. The bare striker has made progress every year and his number has grown with it. Last season he scored a career high of 43 points in 70 games. He currently plays alongside Anze Kopitar so he can certainly play in the top six if needed, but he may be best suited in a middle six role as a defensive striker. The Leafs would have to give up some assets to close a deal and ask the Kings to keep half of Iafallo’s salary (his cap hit is $ 2.425 million), but he might fit well if a deal is made. It sure helps that the Leafs and Kings have a good relationship.
The Leafs won’t have a lot of flexibility as of the deadline so it would have to be someone who is cheap and sourced from a Canadian team would cut the quarantine time. Seems like the Leafs have a greater need for forward depth, so maybe Alex Chiasson from Edmonton? The Leafs have a lot of seasoned strikers ready to step in. Chiasson would fit better in the bottom 6 with his size. He’s played with seasoned players in Edmonton and got about 50% of the shot percentage. I just think that he won the 3rd / 4th Lines would give the leafs a different dynamic.
It’s so hard to find a player the Maple Leafs need. With Joe Thornton, Nick Robertson and Jack Campbell from Toronto, they still have enough depth to cover their bums so it doesn’t all go in the crap. I really don’t think there is anyone the Maple Leafs have need right now. They’re also so close to the cap that it would be virtually impossible to find anyone unless they send a player out. And when I talk about sending a player out, I don’t know if he should either. The only one I would think of is Travis Dermott because he could be one of the players Seattle claims in the expansion draft (if the Leafs keep him and Justin Holl). If you trade he, and it doesn’t work out with Mikko Lehtonen, you’re okay because you still have Rasmus Sandin as the defender of the third pairing.
When it comes to potential targets, I can’t help but believe that Dubas would hold on to his tendency to go with what he knows and that are former Soo Greyhounds. With that in mind, I think Jared McCann could be a target for the Leafs. Pittsburgh is going to have an interesting year and is about to become a playoff team. Maybe they are ready to part with the bottom six strikers in the near future. He would surely check the boxes to be a skilled defender and be able to take offense. The cap hit would be the sticking point, and if the Leafs are looking for a more significant addition later, adding McCann could prevent that.
Dermott is the simple suggestion of who the Leafs would part with. He is far from the Leafs’ only option. Engvall, Barabanov, Lehtonen and possibly even Mikheyev could be moving parts of the road.
Let us know your thoughts. In general, do you think it’s too early for that? Will a 7-2-1 record buy Dubai even in quarantine? And of course, who should stay or who should go