With the 2018 NHL trade deadline 25 days away on February 26, TSN has found a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs to add to their trade bait list.  The list is 30 names long, and it’s unlikely all or even most of those players will be traded by the end of the month, but this time of the year is about speculation, not realism.

Prior to the game on Wednesday night, and with Matt Martin scratched, there were reports that the Leafs might be shopping him now. His contract makes him more attractive to trade this summer, given he has a signing bonus to be paid July 1st, but anything is possible.

Meanwhile, TSN has gotten desperate enough to search the dark corners of the Leafs press box to find names for their list. They’ve added Nikita Soshnikov at number 24.  The truth is, Soshnikov has been on the theoretical trading block for a while. There just isn’t much market for a player who  is a borderline NHLer, but who has a KHL outclause in his contract.

When I asked if Soshnikov’s contract, that essentially prevented him from being sent to the AHL, would block Kasperi Kapanen, the answer seemed to be yes.

Will Nikita Soshnikov’s contract block Kasperi Kapanen from the NHL?

But now that Kapanen has been promoted and has helped make the Leafs fourth line into a knife in the back of any team that has a weak bottom six, it would be absurd to send him back to the AHL even for the few weeks until the roster limits allow for extra players.

Soshnikov, who has spent his Leafs career having the greatest timing for injuries to ever benefit a team, has used up his usefulness as an extra forward. Josh Leivo is sitting right there in the press box with him, and so is Matt Martin. Meanwhile in the AHL, there is All-Star hero Andreas Johnsson, who many believe deserves a shot in the NHL.

The Leafs could happily trade two of their three extra forwards right now and be no worse off. But the take for any of them would be slim. A review of last year’s deadline deals makes it seem like a sixth round pick is all you could expect for a press box regular if you don’t take a contract back.

While I wouldn’t call Soshnikov trade bait, I would call him unlikely to be a member of the Maple Leafs for much longer. The much more interesting question asks if there is a market for Matt Martin. Cody McLeod got snatched off of waivers, but he’s only making $800,000 this year. Martin’s cash cost is much lower this summer after his signing bonus is paid, but his cap hit isn’t very friendly to a team that doesn’t have a lot of space to play with.

All of the Leafs surplus players would be ideal for a team that’s clearing out the top end of its roster and just needs to ride out the season. Do the Senators still take Lou’s calls? Or how about Montréal? They already have a host of similar players in their lineup, maybe they’d like some more.  And what is Arizona up to these days?

The main benefit to the Leafs in clearing the press box would actually be clearing SPC space to enable them to add contracts. Now, speaking of: TSN also claims utility centre Derek Ryan is available …

Can you picture a team trading for Matt Martin?

Sure, Calgary is sitting right there waiting360
No, his day is done and the Leafs will be saddled with that contract forever424
No one acquires a pile of goons at the deadline anymore 329
The Western Conference teams still believe in hitting, someone will go for it1110