Hockey Night in Canada has reported that Josh Leivo has requested a trade if he’s not going to be played. This is from Nick Kypreos, but as always with HNIC, the origin of the intelligence has not been provided.
Kypreos didn’t make it sound like it’s a demand in an angry or overly insistent way; this doesn’t sound like the Peter Holland situation of last year.
Elliotte Friedman chimed in with an opinion that the conditioning stint for Nikita Soshnikov was a showcase for a trade. Soshnikov had a goal on four shots on goals in the Marlies blowout win tonight, and yesterday, he had one assist on three shots on goal, so he is making an impression right away.
Interestingly, last year when Josh Leivo went to the Marlies on the same sort of conditioning stint, he looked like someone who hadn’t played in a while and he was very underwhelming.
The Leivo situation is complicated by his contract and UFA/RFA status. He needs to play 27 more games now to get to 80 NHL games played to prevent him from becoming a Group Six free agent when his contract runs out. The Leafs signed him to a one-year extension in November, seemingly to give them time to meet that games played threshold and preserve his RFA status. Perhaps he now regrets that decision to sign.
The value for either Leivo or Soshnikov or even both of them packaged together is not large. If a team needed a pair of fourth-line wingers right now, they could have them for a late round pick, and the Leafs would have eased their contract and roster crunch.
But who does need that? Who hasn’t got players at their level already in their system? That is the question that stops every proposal that the Leafs can leverage their depth winger excess for defence help from making sense once you try to find a real-world example.
Trading Josh Leivo might be as hard as trading Peter Holland was even if it’s not as acrimonious.
Leivo has one goal and three assists in 12 games this season.