At 3pm today the NHL will implement a trade freeze for all teams not named the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Leading up to this there is expected to be some trade activity so teams can avoid losing good players to the Las Vegas Golden Knights for nothing.
For the Toronto Maple Leafs this could mean landing a top 4 right shot defenseman during a time when there normally wouldn’t be any available. Some see this as a golden opportunity. A chance to make the team better by filling a pretty major void on the blueline.
Others see this as an opportunity only if the price is right. Brendan Shanahan and his group have been building this team up for a couple of years now and have been doing a fine without the help of an expansion draft. They also have very good defensive prospects in the system, such as Travis Dermott, Calle Rosen, and Andrew Nielsen, that could jump into the NHL over the next 2 years. So, while it would be nice to take advantage of teams that aren’t in as comfortable of a spot, selling the farm to help another team may not be the best approach. They should definitely try to take advantage, but only if it makes sense.
With all of that said, we’ll run through a few names that are rumoured to be on the trade market:
Drew Doughty: I’ll get this one out of the way so, hopefully, by the end of this you will have forgotten I even mentioned him. He’s not likely available at all but, at the same time, his name has popped up once or twice lately. What was I saying earlier? Forget it!! If he’s available you sell the farm. He could be the major missing piece.
Travis Hamonic: The New York Islanders have a solid, yet not spectacular defensive group. They are expected to protect Johnny Boychuk (NMC) and Nick Leddy. After that they have Calvin De Haan and Travis Hamonic to choose from. The accepted theory is they’d be willing to move Hamonic and he could be the perfect fit next to Morgan Rielly or Jake Gardiner. It’s also a deal that could work for the Islanders if they consider James Van Riemsdyk a good fit next to John Tavares.
Sami Vatanen: Every rumour account on Twitter has had Vatanen going to the Leafs at some point over the past couple of weeks. He’s a small defender that moves the puck well and, I’m sure, would be a fine fit for the Leafs.
Jonas Brodin: The Minnesota Wild are another team that are in a bind on the blueline. They have depth at the position and it sounds like Brodin could be the odd man out there. He’s a steady defender with good mobility. He doesn’t bring much offense to the table with him but that isn’t exactly what the Leafs need right now. They need more players that know their way around the defensive end and Brodin is that kind of guy. The only reason he isn’t 1st on my list is he doesn’t shoot right, but that isn’t a deal breaker.
Tyson Barrie: High end offense and puck mobility. The Colorado Avalanche decided to buy out former Leaf Francois Beauchemin and that means they can protect all 3 of their right shot defenders (Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov). So, if Barrie is their guy it doesn’t necessarily have to be done today, because the expansion draft is irrelevant, but still a name to keep an eye on if the Avalanche want to first move Barrie and then take advantage of a team that is looking to move a player for their left side.
Mark Pysyk: The player with the least amount of name value on this list but has still been rumoured as a Leaf target. I only know a little about Pysyk and what I know wouldn’t vault him to the top of my want list, but he is a steady, right shot defender. The management group in place most definitely know a lot more about this game than I do, so if this is their guy I’ll trust their judgement.
Chris Tanev: Considered by many to be the perfect fit for the Leafs top 4. He checks a lot of boxes under “Leafs Needs.” Another player whose team isn’t in a rush to move him though, and while the team has said he isn’t going anywhere, the rumours persist.
For what it’s worth I’d put Travis Hamonic on top of my list (even though Doughty is on the list is he really even on the list?). He’s signed for 3 more seasons at just under 4M per year. He’s not afraid to do the grunt work in the corners and in front of the net, and he seems to be a great teammate while also being young enough to stay with the team for a very long time. He was on the market last season because of family issues that made him want to be closer to home (Manitoba), so it’s assumed he’d want to go to a western Canadian team, but Toronto might be suitable as well. If he’s willing to play here I think a lot of Leaf fans would be happy with him.