James Mirtle of The Athletic: Kyle Dubas does not have to make a dollar-in, dollar-out trade in every scenario. The Toronto Maple Leafs general manager possesses options in his arsenal to make a deal. It would not take too much to trade for a $4 million player. Talents like that include Rickard Rakell, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal, and others.
Take a deal for Granlund which Toronto would have to wait around a week to make. A couple of moves later and some salary retention could get the Maple Leafs right near the salary cap.
Now, the Leafs could wait, demote a player, or do double retention. The second retention involves a third team who would retain salary. Again, there are crazier options as far as the math. Toronto may be able to afford Taylor Hall and his huge salary even.
That would require more maneuvering but again it is possible. The idea behind this is that dollar-in and dollar-out is kind of a myth here. Teams can get creative, add sweeteners, etc. No one expects this to be easy but Kyle Dubas can acquire talent without having to trade what he does not want to.
Emily Sadler of Sportsnet: Mattias Ekholm emerging as one of the top defensive trade targets has been established. Now, where could he end up? The Jake Muzzin deal sets the bar but again the where is far from set.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Toronto seems to be involved in everything but they do need defense and/or goaltending insurance. Ekholm would be especially helpful but a deal would have to be done in the next week or so. A pure rental makes more sense but Ekholm gives Toronto three left-handed anchors for defense.
Philadelphia Flyers: Again, when Matt Niskanen retired, it left a huge void on the defensive corps. At first, the Flyers were able to hide their deficiencies but now they cannot. Giving up 25 goals in the last five games makes a deal more likely. Ekholm’s term helps here at a reasonable rate for Philadelphia. The Flyers have enough prospects to sweeten any deal for the Nashville defenseman.
Montreal Canadiens: Montreal’s roller coaster of a season continues at breakneck speed. Marc Bergevin remains unafraid to pull off another bold move or three. With the Ben Chiarot injury, a spot has opened up. Unfortunately, cap space is an issue as it is for most teams. Montreal possesses a wealth of draft picks — 14 in 2021, and seven in 2022. Does Montreal add Artturi Lehkonen as well?
Boston Bruins: Ekholm is one of those defensemen who can boost scoring a little bit while playing mostly excellent defense in a tougher top-four role. The problem for the Bruins is that teams know Boston has one of the worst prospect pools in the NHL. A player may have to go the other way. Jake DeBrusk is the name bandied about as a possible return for Nashville.
Winnipeg Jets: Winnipeg has the pieces to make a Jake Muzzin like deal according to Murat Ates via Adam Vingan of The Athletic. The problem is that other teams could offer a better package for Ekholm. Cap issues are there as well. However, adjustments can be made for the Nashville defenseman.
Chris Johnston: The Toronto Maple Leafs putting Travis Boyd on waivers was done to help bank salary cap space for the trade deadline. If Boyd gets through waivers, the Leafs will then be able to move him back and forth between the taxi squad and their NHL roster.
James Mirtle and Jonas Siegel of The Athletic: With a few weeks left until the trade deadline, Jonas Siegel and James Mirtle take a look at their top-five candidates.
Jonas Siegel Top Five
Taylor Hall and Filip Forsberg would be an immense undertaking but would fulfill any top-six scoring issues. Rickard Rakell would be costly as well. However, he is not as costly as he would appear and Rakell is under contract for 2021-22 at $3.78 million.
Matt Nieto is a cheap penalty killer but the real find here might be Alex Iafallo from the Los Angeles Kings. Iafallo would allow Hyman and himself to go back and forth in the middle-six. Both would not be out of place playing with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
James Mirtle Top Five
All five players could easily turn things around in Toronto. It cannot be disputed that Granlund and Palmieri will cost the most. Granlund fits Toronto best and yes, the organization has been looking at him for a long, long time. He slots right into the line with Matthews and Marner without an issue. Granlund will not cost a ton of assets either whereas Kyle Palmieri might.
A little more on the Toronto Maple Leafs
Dave Feschuk of The Toronto Star: Kyle Dubas and the Toronto Maple Leafs have been gifted an easy division to get into the semifinals of the Stanley Cup. That is the going theory. If there ever was a time to win the Stanley Cup, it may be this year. The time is now which is why Dubas needs to bolster wherever he can.
Kevin McGran of The Toronto Star (mailbag): One of the clearest things for Toronto is they will need to play more physically as the playoffs approach. That is needed for success. No one suggests that they need to forego other aspects to achieve that. Toronto will try to make a big move but can they pull it off? That is the question. So, there will be a move for a playoff-tough veteran and then a bigger swing so to speak for an offensive top-six player.
Jonathan Quick’s name has been circulating around the NHL these last few days as a possible target for teams looking to bolster their goaltending position, either in the starter’s role or as a veteran 1B.
According to multiple sources, the Los Angeles Kings have spoken with the Maple Leafs about Quick. At this point, a move does not sound imminent, but the option appears to be available if Toronto decides to pursue it in the next three weeks.
If this materializes, it could get complex. There’s a belief out there that if Andersen isn’t severely injured, he (and his $5 million cap hit) would be sent to the Los Angeles, upon which Kings GM Rob Blake can hold on to him for their own playoff run until he hits the open market as a UFA in the summer or flip him to another team before the deadline – the Carolina Hurricanes had interest in him in the off-season.
The Leafs would surely want the Kings to retain a portion of Quick’s salary – that could come into play if he’s dealt to any team, not just the Leafs. The Kings are willing to take on money if they’re incentivized to do so, and I can’t imagine moving Quick for a pending free agent is a big motivator, so more would have to come back L.A.’s way.
Coincidentally, Toronto’s Director of Pro Scouting is scheduled to attend today’s Kings game. It’s a timeline appearance even though Troy Bodie happens to be based in Los Angeles, as it’s the first Kings home game he’s been on the list for in some time.
Assuming this actually plays out and the Kings take back a portion of Quick’s deal, acquiring him takes care of Toronto’s starter’s role for the next two seasons at a lower cap figure, giving them a little more flexibility when it comes to trying to re-sign other pending free agents like Zach Hyman, whom I wrote about last week. It also creates slightly more space for another add up front, which Dubas is trying to do ahead of the April 12 trade deadline.
The Leafs would probably expose Quick in the expansion draft, like the Kings are expected to do, but I don’t get the sense he’s on Seattle’s radar. And I’m sure another shot at a championship is motivation enough for Quick to play his best in the post-season.