So you want to make a trade to improve the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Most likely, you specifically have the defense and/or the backup goalie in mind. Also most likely, you have a player or two on the Leafs you want the Leafs to trade to do it. The most common names I’ve heard so far this year (not counting TSN’s weird Nylander-trading-fetish) are:

  • Kasperi Kapanen
  • Andreas Johnsson
  • Tyson Barrie
  • Cody Ceci/

It’s an interesting mix. Johnsson and Kapanen people generally like and would want to keep in an ideal world, but see them as two of the only pieces of value the Leafs have who they would be most okay with losing if it helps them somewhere else. Barrie and Ceci, on the other hand, are more in the “please get rid of them I hate watching them on my team” camp depending on who you talk to.

There’s another reason why these four get mentioned, and Jake Muzzin too but to a lesser extent, they’re basically players who make more than a minimum cap hit but aren’t core players. That’s important when it comes to making any Leafs trade, because otherwise the only players they can trade for are other guys making league minimum.

But here’s my thing. On the one hand, I’m in the group that would be most accepting (reluctantly) of trading Kapanen and Johnsson. But I am less accepting of it more and more. I think if you start trading them, you’re getting to the point of taking away what makes the Leafs special: speed and offense. With them, your top 9 this year is:

Johnsson - Matthews - Nylander

Hyman - Tavares - Marner

Mikheyev - Kerfoot - Kapanen

If you trade one of them, you go from having a pretty strong (if still top heavy) top 9 to replacing one of them with a more defensive-minded and less offensively skilled guy like... I guess Engvall? Or an older, less speedy Spezza who likely won’t be around after this year. If you do that, you’d better be getting a damn good defenseman who can legitimately play in the top 4 and not just for this year.

I’m fine with seeing if another team bites on taking on Barrie without us having to give up anything, and maybe even giving us something, to give you real flexibility to make another move. I’m less okay of becoming even more of a top 6/bottom 6 team since they traded Kadri.

I’m okay with swallowing that this year is just problematic from a cap management perspective and seeing how well they can do with the roster more or less as-is. That cap crunch will go away after this season, and they’ll have one or two cheap young defensemen who can (fingers crossed) step in full-time at some point next year in Sandin and Liljegren. They’ll have room to see if they can swing a bigger/better trade, or sign some decent mid-range options to fill the gaps between Rielly and the kids.

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Spengler Cup news!

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Have a happy Friday everyone!

Do you want the Leafs to really trade one of Johnsson or Kapanen?

Yes, they need the help on defense and they’re not really that good for their role65
Yes, they need a backup goalie to help them actually make the playoffs89
For a legit top 4 defenseman yes, for a goalie no297
You’ll take my Johnsson and my Kappy from my cold, dead hands170