The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is three weeks away, on Monday, March 21.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to make a few moves to improve the team for a long playoff run, but will there be any drastic moves, anything to make us sit up and take notice? Or will it be a small, subtle move that makes broadcasters regret devoting so much airtime to the day?
What areas should the Leafs focus on improving at the deadline?
Katya: I think there’s a couple of key things the Leafs need. First, a defenceman who is a fast thinker. I know people love the idea of a “modern puck moving defenceman”, and they have those, good ones, but they need a guy who can quickly move from all that modern dance up the ice to defending rushes. Second, they could really use Mark Stone. Third, they need guys who can grow good beards.
Hardev: A forward would be a nice want if they can find one as part of another deal. A reliable goalie would be great, but so would world peace. The defense without Jake Muzzin scares me. I had hoped he would get back to normal (though his expected goals this year have been good) but the injuries he’s suffered are crushing. It needs to be a defenseman, and it needs to be another Muzzin-type deal.
seldo: Defence, defence, defence. It wins championships, it prevents goals, it’s the Leafs biggest weakness still. Some of the work that was done over the summer helped, but I think it still needs upgrading with the declines of Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl.
Fulemin: I’m going to punt a bit and say “wherever you can get the best player at a reasonable price.” If you think you can buy cheap at 2LW and really upgrade, do it. But all being equal, a second-pair defenceman would be best.
Arvind: Defence seems like the most amenable area for improvement right now, since basically any goalie acquisition is as much of a gamble as trusting the current tandem. Ideally, someone relatively mobile, who has some ability to prevent clean zone entries, and won’t capitulate when having to defend off the rush.
Species: The lack of van Riemsdyks. I need rental income from my basement!
Is there anywhere that you think the Leafs are good enough, and can stick with what they have?
Katya: There’s been some talk about adding a goalie, but I think that’s impossible. Even if it were necessary, you have to outbid Edmonton, and likely some others. And really, the available guys are the same two they didn’t get last summer: Georgiev and Korpisalo. They’re just dice you roll, like the Leafs have with Campbell and Mrázek. No guaranteed it comes up six.
Hardev: I think their forwards are good enough. Would I like a better 2LW? Yes, but I can live with what they have currently. The first line doesn’t need to be touched, I’m confident Tavares and Nylander are going to get out of their funk — they haven’t forgotten how to score. David Kämpf has been an hilarious revelation. His scoring won’t last, but he’s done a lot defensively.
seldo: Up front is the place that needs the least amount of work, aside from maybe a top 6 winger for the second line, but that’s pricey.
Fulemin: Right wing is covered, and since none of you said it now I get to.
Arvind: The first line is mint. Put them in bubble wrap and hope they don’t go cold at the worst time.
Brigstew: Forward seems to be their best strength, though I still have concerns of their ability to score outside of their stars.
Is anything/one off the table for moves? Picks, prospects, roster players?
Katya: Matt Knies is totally a no-go. GMs never trade the guy they just drafted, and no GM looking to justify his decisions is going to trade a guy that looks like that much of a steal which makes him look that good. I think absolutely everything else if available if the price is right outside the core players.
Hardev: I think Knies is off the table as well, especially after this year. I don’t believe Niemela is untouchable, nor any other prospect besides Knies they have. On the roster, top five forwards, top three defenders (yes, I’m including Sandin here for now).
seldo: Everyone’s available for the right price. Now, that price may be astronomical and so huge no one would ever pay it (Matthews) but never say never.
Species: All the top prospects. With the pressure from a cap not really moving in the near future, and that big scary swath of players going UFA in starting in two seasons, I want to see Topi Niemela, Matthew Knies, Nick Abruzzese, and Rodion Amirov (all our best wishes for you) signing those ELCs and filling in the slots where we need them in two to three seasons.
Fulemin: Seldo’s answer is technically correct, but it’s very easy to cross off Matthews, Marner, Nylander, Tavares, Kaše, Kämpf, Bunting, Rielly, Brodie, and Sandin from any deadline trade list for various reasons. Beyond that, no one is off-limits in my opinion. They probably do keep Knies, but they shouldn’t be afraid to trade any prospect, Knies included.
Brigstew: I've already made peace with the fact that I will probably be writing about no drafted prospects this year. And that's not even to say I'm disappointed about that -- they should spend the picks, though I'd prefer them to get a legit impact guy like Chychrun or Miller or something like that. I expect a good prospect or two may be leaving the station too.
What’s your expected move?
Katya: I think they will go for a defender, and I think Dubas is pivoting away from rentals to guys with term. I think it’s going to cost the first, the second and maybe some prospect to do everything he’s going to do, and I’m getting earplugs now for the howls of outrage.
Hardev: Hivemind with Katya here. I think we’ll get another Muzzin-type trade — it worked so well the first time (until this season). If the Leafs can sell high on Abruzzese as a prospect (despite how much I like him) I think that’ll be a win, too.
Fulemin: CLAUDE GIROUX. (The real answer is what’s already been said, so the hell with it. Claude Giroux.)
Species: I really think nothing major will happen, but for a lack of a better place to put this, Brett Seney should be a part of the conversation. He’s been up in the NHL before, playing 53 games for the Devils, he’s on league minimum contract, and he’s having a career season on the Marlies over PPG. Seney is an obvious chip to place in a bigger trade to a team that is desperate to get into a wild card playoff spot. “Hello, Anaheim Ducks? This is Kyle Dubas calling. Have you heard of a guy named Brett Seney?”
Brigstew: Nick Foligno for a first.
What rumoured players on the move do you want the Leafs to avoid?
Katya: John Klingberg will not be worth his ask, Josh Manson hasn’t got enough of “it” anymore, and I just have this thing where I don’t like Damon Severson, so I don’t want him either.
Hardev: First let me say who I do want. Damon Severson (yes, I can hear you yelling at me, Fulemin), Adam Larsson as well, Mark Giordano would be nice, too. As for players I don’t want, I’m not interested in Chiarot at all, or Luke Schenn (though I think that is done with Lyubushkin). Not interested in mediocre and problematic Max Domi. I’d probably give up if they paid a Ryan Miller-like ransom for Fleury.
seldo: Whoever this person is who started the Ben Chiarot stuff, they need to be muzzled forever.
Fulemin: If we actually acquire Rasmus Ristolainen I’m giving up on the franchise.
Arvind: Chiarot is the easy choice here. In a more surprising take for me, I’m not really that into any Hampus Lindholm rumors. He’s good, but he just doesn’t really fit here, for the price, unless we’re dead certain Muzzin can’t play even in the playoffs.
Species: All of them. Chiarot, Giordano, Klingberg and company are all the equivalent of the Waffle Iron on sale for $9.99 at Walmart on a Black Friday; a good deal for that appliance, but it’s an appliance no one actually needs, and when you get one it winds up staying in the box it came sitting at the back of your closet for a year until you re-gift it to another NHL team.
Is there anyone you want moved at the deadline?
Katya: Travis Dermott needs to be on a team that will play him, for him and for the Leafs. Move him.
Hardev: Dermott has been here too long. He should’ve been gone last summer, or the moment Sandin took his job the season previous. I think the Holl magic* is gone, I would move on from that. I’d like to replace Kerfoot with a more offensively-focused winger. The second line doesn’t need help defensively, they need to be a step more terrifying offensively. Make it hard for teams to match Matthews with their best defenders.
I wonder what ransom the Leafs could get from Edmonton from Jack Campbell. Just kidding.
*The magic was Muzzin’s best seasons
Species: I’m on the record in favour of moving out Travis Dermott, and I think maybe the Leafs have come around to my view too, but I also see a new option now in Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall. I doubt they will do it, but this is the best time to trade them, especially if Dubas really does believe in Nick Robertson.
Fulemin: I think it’s getting to be about time for Dermott to move on, yeah. With Muzzin’s injury I can see them keeping him, barring another defence acquisition, but he’s hit his Toronto ceiling.
Arvind: Nick Rit - sorry, force of habit.
Katya: Coming back to this with some insider stuff, not my opinion. On the HNIC broadcast, someone said that the Leafs need Holl (Bieksa, I think) and need what he can bring as an extra defender even if they make a trade. Friedman shook his head and said, no, they’re still looking to move him.
Is there anyone you don’t want moved?
Katya: I’m actually afraid a real non-rental defender will cost Rasmus Sandin, and I don’t want that.
Hardev: Keep Kämpf and Kaše together at all costs.
David Kampf snapped pic.twitter.com/2Tlgvwpme2— Omar (@TicTacTOmar) February 27, 2022
Fulemin: Nylander should be a Leaf for life. They won’t trade him at the TDL but it’s important to say.
Arvind: I’d like to keep Liljegren... I don’t think he’s great right now, but I’m mildly hopeful he can grow into a Holl-type 5D in the future.
Species: Joey Anderson is becoming a favourite as I watch him on the Marlies. Keep him, Kyle, and he’ll earn a spot on the team at training camp next season.
Those are our thoughts. Is there anything you think we missed? Give us your opinions and thoughts in the comments. Or not, less moderation for us.