It’s Deadline Day…… FINALLY!!
I’m going to do a quick rundown on what might be available to the Leafs today in terms of adding a defender.
For starters, with the addition of Tomas Plekanec, I fully expect the Leafs to do nothing more with their forwards. I know people want James Van Riemsdyk traded, and after seeing the return the New York Rangers received from Rick Nash I will agree it’s tough not to wonder if that would be the best option.
They likely want him for the stretch run and the playoffs however, so we’ll move on from that debate.
So, if we assume the forwards are set, and it’s also safe to assume they won’t do anything between the pipes, then it’s also safe to assume that if something happens today it will involve the blueline, which has been the area in the most need all season.
I just want to run down through a few options that they could consider.
This would be the big fish for them to land. He’s been the most rumored to land with the Leafs and would likely have the highest impact of any of the rumored defensive targets. McDonagh moves well, defends fairly well, and can move the puck effectively. He is signed through next season at a very palatable $4.7M. He has a modified no trade clause but would apparently waive it for the Maple Leafs.
One thing I’d like to say about this player is he isn’t a legit #1 defender. So, while some New York reporters would like to tell you differently, he won’t cost you a young star like William Nylander or Mitch Marner. Also, the Leafs aren’t likely interested in moving on from players such as Travis Dermott, Kasperi Kapanen, Timothy Liljegren, or Andreas Johnsson. These four are among our best prospects and are either playing in the NHL, close to playing in the NHL in a position of need, or have ceilings so high that trading them for McDonagh could come back to bite you in the near future.
If the Plekanec trade taught us anything it’s that the Leafs would prefer to deal prospects that may not fit here long term (not saying they aren’t good prospects, just not ones that fit in the long term plan such as Rinat Valiev) and draft picks. They would also, in my opinion, not hesitate to part ways with some young players that are struggling to find a foot hole with the team, such as Josh Leivo and Connor Carrick.
Is a combination of players that fit that bill, as well as draft picks, enough to land McDonagh? I’m not so sure but I’ll leave that up to Lou to figure out.
Moving back to the player, I’m not even 100% sure how or where he fits in the lineup. Being a left shot among many on the team would mean pushing somebody to their off side. Again, I will have to leave that up to Lou and head coach Mike Babcock. If they see a fit then it could very well work.
I’m not a fan of this option, I’ll start by saying that. Green has struggled in his own end for most of his career, so while he is good offensively, great on the power play, and is a fine player in his own right, I think we have enough of these types of players already. I won’t speak about this one much because I think most of the rumors have been driven by the media, rather than actual interest from the Leafs themselves.
Jack Johnson’s name has been linked to the Leafs in the rumour mill a few times now and, like McDonagh, I’m not sure about the fit because he shoots left as well. He is a defender that moves well though, and has terrific size at almost 230 pounds. Once known as an offensive defenseman, having scored 40pts twice in his career, the offensive numbers simply aren’t there anymore.
He would be a fine depth option in my opinion, but again, if we’re talking about ideal fits, which would mean a right shot, then he isn’t it. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t likely cost much and would bring a veteran presence to the ice.
New to the rumour mill (he wasn’t even mentioned when I started writing this 20 minutes ago) is Washington defender John Carlson. There are some that believe the Capitals could chase the Ottawa Senators Erik Karlsson, and if they did trade for him it would mean moving John Carlson to make room. How or why this makes sense is anybody’s guess but this is a silly time of year.
The fit? Perfect!! Ideal!! Couldn’t be better!!
Carlson is a big man, he skates well, has high offensive skill and is solid in his own end. He’s a legitimate top pairing defender that has flown under the radar for most of his career. He hasn’t gotten the recognition he deserves but he’d be a terrific addition to the Blue and White.
Chris Tanev, Tyson Barrie, and Niklas Hjalmarsson would all be good fits in their own right.
So, there you have it. Short and sweet!! Not nearly all of the options out there but a few names to chew on while we watch what will likely be another slow and painful deadline day!!
Enjoy it if you can!!
GO LEAFS GO!!