Stop me if you've heard this one before: the Leafs have traded Daniel Winnik.
Winnik and a 2016 5th round pick (previously acquired from Anaheim for Korbinian Holzer) are headed to the Washington Capitals. In return, Toronto receives Brooks Laich, the Capitals' 2016 2nd round pick, and prospect Connor Carrick.
Winnik was initially signed by the Leafs on a one-year deal in 2014. He was traded last February to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a 2016 2nd round pick, 2015 4th round pick, and Zach Sill before returning to Toronto as a UFA on July 1, signing a two-year deal. He has 4 goals and 14 points in 56 games with the Leafs this season.
As for what the Leafs are getting:
Brooks Laich is an NHL veteran who has spent his entire NHL career with the Capitals. Once a two-time 20-goal scorer, his performance has fallen off hard. He has 7 points in 60 games and was put on waivers by the Caps yesterday. His contract expires in 2017. He is not a great return, but it's likely the Leafs decided to eat some cap in order to get a better package from Washington.
Connor Carrick is the Capitals' 5th round pick in the 2012 draft. He has 73 points in 132 AHL games with the Hershey Bears. He has also had brief cups of coffee with the Capitals, accumulating 6 points in 37 NHL games, most of which were in 2013-14.
Here is what Hockey's Future has to say about Carrick:
Carrick lacks size (5’11, 185 pounds), but he more than makes up for it with his skating and offensive ability. He shows great confidence carrying the puck and attacks the offensive zone, jumping into the rush and creating opportunities. Though he is undersized for a defenseman, he shows competency in his own zone despite facing physical challenges. His shot and ability to quarterback the power play are what make him most valuable and he has the skill set to be very good as an offensive defenseman on the NHL level.
It is unlikely that Carrick, an Illinois native, is related to Marlies forward Sam Carrick, who was born in Markham.
Analysis and Verdict
I like this trade for the Leafs. Winnik is a decent depth player, and will probably be a good fourth line defensive presence for the Capitals, but he wasn't as good as he was in 2014-15. Laich's regressing performance and one year remaining on his contract may give some pause, but he'll either help the tank on the Leafs or be a beneficial veteran presence on the Marlies this season.
Carrick seems like an offensively-gifted defenseman; he gives the Leafs another prospect in an area of weakness. In particular, I like that he's a right-handed shot, as the Leafs don't have too many of those. For this season, he will be a major asset to the Marlies for their Calder Cup run.
Another 2nd round pick is great, as it guarantees the Leafs at least four picks in the top 60. The pick will be a late 2nd- the Capitals are kinda sorta good, in case you hadn't been paying attention- but, hey, they got a promising prospect in Jeremy Bracco around that part of the draft in 2015, so that's still a good thing.
The Leafs turned a checking line forward good for 30-ish points a season into some reasonable futures. They took on a year of a bad contract in Brooks Laich, but it is not entirely backbreaking. I give this a B+.