The Right Handed Defenseman the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Trade For

Sami Vatanen (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
Sami Vatanen (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images) /

It might not take much for the Toronto Maple Leafs to make their roster even more explosive. They may be just one Finnish defenseman away.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are one roster piece shy from making a long and successful run in the playoffs. If they can find a veteran defenseman who can contribute to the offense, help lock things down, and be counted on for valuable minutes, they need to go after him. That player for them is Sami Vatanen.

The Toronto Maple Leafs should have their eye on Vatanen of the New Jersey Devils. Not only would his presence on their blueline make a substantial difference, but he’s also likely to be on the trading block due to becoming an unrestricted free agent when the year is through.

With the Devils bound to miss the playoffs, they will want to find some value in him that could help them in the future.

Vatanen is a 5’10” right-handed shot defenseman. He is currently in his ninth year in the NHL after being drafted by the Anaheim Ducks in the fourth round of the 2009 NHL Entry draft.

He has the background and ability to make his teams better. That is why the Devils were willing to part with Adam Henrique in order to pry him from the Ducks.

Vatanen has made a living being confident with the puck. He doesn’t panic in his own end and constantly demonstrates his puck-moving abilities, finding players in stride in the neutral zone and setting them up on special teams.

This top-notch on-ice vision, Vatanen has been a mainstay on the powerplay since his days in Anaheim. He is an offensive player, with defensive capability.

This season, the 28-year-old Fin has shown that his possession numbers are still sharp. He has a Corsi rating of 52.9 percent for all situations, which is 4.9 percent better relative to his team. His Corsi per 60 minutes in all situations is also positive, at 5.3.

Vatanen is a player that the Leafs can put on their top pairing. He and Morgan Rielly would be an excellent tandem, especially since Rielly shoots left. Even if Vatanen was relegated to the second powerplay unit in Toronto, he would be a welcome addition.

What it Might Take to Get Vatanen

The Maple Leafs would have to give up a package in order to convince Devils GM Ray Shero to make a swap.

With it already known that Jeremy Bracco is on the market, he would certainly be included. Cody Ceci is another player who would need to be added to the equation. He is not just someone the Leafs should want to trade, but he’d need to go in order to make room for Vatanen’s $4.875 million cap hit.

The question would be what or who else, might the Devils want in order to make the deal happen?

Though a part of the fanbase has called for them to part ways with Tyson Barrie, they should avoid it, even if this will be his only season in Toronto. Perhaps the Leafs could sweeten the deal with a second-round draft choice.

If the package of Bracco, Ceci, and a second-round pick is enough to land Vatanen, the pairings would be dynamite. Rielly and Vatanen would be up first. Travis Dermott and Barrie could be up next, followed by Martin Marincin and Justin Holl.

The risk to do this would be that Vatanen would just be a rental player and would depart at season’s end. Even if that’s true, it’s worth bringing him into the fold. The upgrade from Ceci is enormous, which props up the entire team.

dark. Next. Two Unique OHL Prospects to Watch

With the Leafs squad as good as it is now, Dubas and Shanahan need to push their chips all-in and declare that they’re ready to bring home the Stanley Cup.