The Toronto Maple Leafs’ tumultuous season has witnessed a new dose of chaos thrown into the combine.
If a coaching adjust, an off-time blockbuster deal that hasn’t panned out, and accidents to Mitch Marner and John Tavares weren’t enough to shake things up, the loss of the club’s two ice-time leaders in Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin will include a refreshing take a look at for Sheldon Keefe’s club to navigate.
Both of those defenders remain on the wounded reserve with foot accidents, and though Muzzin will very likely return initial, neither look possible to figure into the Leafs’ plans any time especially quickly. Unfortunately, which is a important problem for Toronto, as the first 50 percent of the 2019-20 campaign didn’t see the club establish up ample insurance plan in the standings to face up to any important fall-off.
As it at this time stands, Toronto sits 3rd in their division with 56 details. Florida — who just dealt the Leafs an 8-4 shellacking on Sunday — sits just a few points back again with two video games in hand. Ought to Toronto get pushed into the wild-card race, the Hurricanes sit tied with them at 56 factors, with Philadelphia and Columbus only trailing by a pair.
Suffice it to say, the Maple Leafs require to maintain their recent degree, or threat winding up in a tough race for the article-period down the extend.
So significantly, so superior. With no their prime two defenders Tuesday, the Maple Leafs managed to put absent the New Jersey Devils with a 7-4 acquire — with a short while ago identified as up Rasmus Sandin chipping in two factors to show he can assist his team weather the storm for the time being. Justin Holl and Travis Dermott led the way in ice-time, just about every skating over 21 minutes in the tilt. Tyson Barrie and Martin Marincin lined up as the next pair, with Cody Ceci and Sandin rounding out the blue-line team.
But here’s betting issues get harder at the time the Leafs are up in opposition to a workforce much better than just one that struggled mightily even just before they traded away their modern Hart Trophy winner. The state of Toronto’s blue line has many amid the Maple Leafs faithful clamouring for a trade to shore up the back conclusion for more durable affairs that’ll come.
So, what are the club’s solutions? Blockbusters won’t do, as the Leafs do not necessarily need main medical procedures but simply just a band-aid to retain matters from acquiring out of hand right up until Rielly and Muzzin return. What will serve the club most effective is a stopgap alternative, a veteran defender who can arrive in, take in minutes, hold down the fort and chip in offensively when the instant presents by itself.
Let us consider a glimpse at a several realistic solutions for GM Kyle Dubas.
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T.J. Brodie or Travis Hamonic, Calgary Flames
Let’s begin closer to the surgical procedure side of the spectrum. There’s no problem T.J. Brodie could support the Leafs’ bring about, obtaining held a best-line job for a lot of his time in Calgary. Provided studies in excess of the summer that a Brodie (and Mark Jankowski) for Nazem Kadri trade was deemed, it’s risk-free to believe the Leafs are fascinated in the easy-skating defender’s solutions.
But as a longtime staple in Calgary, Brodie would not arrive low-cost. The authentic described offer had a two-time 30-purpose-scorer in Kadri going the other way. Whilst Toronto no for a longer period has many of that calibre of added parts to shift out — and is in no situation to subtract from their blue line in the sort of somebody like Barrie — they do have a couple of items to entice groups, particularly speedy-footed depth winger Kasperi Kapanen and AHL standout Jeremy Bracco.
With equally Brodie and the more defensive-minded Travis Hamonic set to strike unrestricted absolutely free company at the end of this season, and the Flames stocked entire of talented blue-liners aged and young, there could be a deal to be experienced there. Both clock in with quite acceptable cap hits ($4.65 million for Brodie, $3.86 million for Hamonic), indicating minor would require to be performed to match both in, as effectively.
Brenden Dillon, San Jose Sharks
SportsMid’s Elliotte Friedman highlighted defender Brenden Dillon as a title San Jose could be looking to go, with the 29-year-old in the ultimate 12 months of his deal as perfectly.
Nevertheless not capable to supply the offensive spark that Brodie would deliver, Dillon’s a quite continuous presence on the again finish, and able to take in up to 20 minutes a night time if want be.
At six-foot-4, 225 lbs, the New Westminster, B.C. native also provides the additional aspect of measurement and a physical sport, assets that will grow to be a lot more helpful down the stretch as the online games bit by bit shift from frequent-season to playoff-design hockey.
In accordance to The Athletic’s Kevin Kurz, a second-spherical pick and a prospect could be more than enough to pry him out of San Jose, indicating a offer starting off with Bracco could be workable.
Alec Martinez, Los Angeles Kings
With the Kings in the exact same 2019-20 tailspin as their Californian counterparts, veteran defender Alec Martinez is reportedly on the block, far too.
The fact that the 32-calendar year-outdated has an additional calendar year on his offer, at $4 million, very likely raises the charge for potential customers, but Martinez could be both a small- and lengthy-expression resolution for Toronto.
In the limited term, he can simply try to eat 20 minutes a evening — possessing topped that mark in each individual of the past 4 seasons — and delivers some offensive capabilities much too, with a 39-level hard work on his resume just a couple seasons in the past. In the prolonged expression, Martinez’s familiarity with Muzzin from their Kings days can only help Toronto’s initiatives.
Nikita Zadorov or Ian Cole, Colorado Avalanche
The Avalanche are likely to be the most interesting crew included in any trade deadline conversations supplied they’ve received an presently promising squad and an absurd quantity of cap place heading into the latter half of the time.
They also have a duo in Ian Cole and Nikita Zadorov who are presently limited to base-pairing minutes, but have proven the skill to eat extra minutes if need be in the earlier and occur with workable cap hits.
Rumours ended up floated about a prospective Zadorov trade last yr right before he signed a one particular-12 months offer to return to Colorado. With a sturdy team and title aspirations, there’s no reason GM Joe Sakic requirements to mess with his recent blue-line setup, of course. But if Sakic opts to swing for a even bigger blue-line piece to bolster his major 4, potentially that pushes one of Cole or Zadorov out and on to the trade block.
Neither are notably sport-shifting alternatives for the Maple Leafs — but supplied the state of their blue line and the duties thrust upon however-emerging skills like Dermott, Holl and Sandin, a continual, veteran defender to plug into the blend for the time becoming would not be a awful strategy.
Zach Bogosian, Buffalo Sabres
The veteran reportedly asked for a trade out of Buffalo back in December as a minimal position has left him frequently sidelined in the rebuilding Sabres firm.
Small has transformed due to the fact, with Bogosian nonetheless seldom finding respectable minutes in his current circumstance. Though a wholesome Leafs squad would probably have taken the very same approach, the present crew could very likely use the 29-year-old’s veteran presence, and could probably get some specific-teams use out of him as effectively.
The main problem listed here is cap hit, given the pending unrestricted totally free agent’s 2019-20 strike sits at $5.14 million per 12 months. Potentially Buffalo retains some salary to go on from the Bogosian debacle, and nets a potential asset from the Maple Leafs to aid their younger guns’ bring about.
Of course, the central problem is no matter whether a deal is actually desired at all, specially offered the losses on Toronto’s blue-line really don’t show up to be period-ending. There’s no space for a slide down the standings, but the Leafs’ roster is still dotted with extra than sufficient talent to make up for a weaker blue-line, in theory.
Seeking at the names readily available — those who could most likely be acquired in offers that wouldn’t appreciably alter the team’s existing roster or prospect cabinet, how significantly would the needle certainly move? The biggest X-issue correct now seems to be Sandin.
With the young Swede impressing in the massive leagues the moment all over again, potentially a blend of him elevating his stage and Barrie ultimately finding his recreation stems the tide for Toronto’s blue line before their best-pairing video game changers are back in the blend. Should really there continue to be a blue-line hole seemingly in want of filling in Toronto, the problem for Dubas is how minimal or important a transfer is considered essential to shake factors up.