If there is one thing the Toronto Maple Leafs need help with, it is defence. What I would look for is a right-handed defenseman who has an expiring contract next summer, and a perfect choice would be Anton Strålman from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
When the Maple Leafs sign William Nylander (when, not if) the team could have a little under $6 million to play with and Strålman carries a cap hit of $4.5 million. He can still put up some decent point totals (18 last year, ending a streak three 20-plus point seasons), and would be a great addition to the blue line.
Stralman has averaged over 20 minutes of ice-time for four consecutive seasons and is averaging 22:08 this season at the time of writing. He is a critical piece of the Lightning’s penalty kill, averaging 2:44 minutes last season (Second on the team) and is leading the team through 10 games this year with 4:36 minutes per game when shorthanded. While that number will drop as the season continues, it’s still apparent just how valuable Strålman is to the Lightning.
If the Maple Leafs were to trade for Strålman, everything would come full circle.
The Leafs drafted the Swede in the seventh round all the way back in 2005. They then traded him to the Calgary Flames in July of 2009 and watched him prosper with the New York Rangers and, later, the Lightning. Having Strålman join the team that drafted him for a potentially lengthy playoff run in the later stages of his career is almost too good to be true, and the Leafs should pounce on the opportunity to acquire his services.