It’s been a bit of a rough stretch in Toronto Maple Leafs land lately.
Things were looking up following the Toronto Maple Leafs defeat of the Ottawa Senators on Friday. Of course, that was before the Leafs gave up three straight goals to the Buffalo Sabres in a span of a minute and 30 seconds. And even more before they dropped a five spot against the Penguins and lost 5-2.
A number of different factors go into why the Maple Leafs lost those games, but I’ve narrowed it down to three. Bad goaltending, bad officiating, and a general lack of heart and effort.
You’ve all probably read more than you’ve wanted to over those two poor excuses for games, so I’m not going to dive too much more into them. Let’s just leave it at the fact that they were two horrible efforts.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Panthers Make Trade
Getting back on topic, earlier today the Maple Leafs announced a trade.
No, it wasn’t the star defenseman the fanbase is clamoring for, but rather just a depth move. The Toronto Maple Leafs traded forward Mason Marchment to the Florida Panthers in exchange for forward Denis Malgin.
This move came about ten minutes after the Leafs announced that Andreas Johnsson would miss the rest of the season following successful knee surgery.
Essentially what they did here was turn a fringe NHLer into a regular NHLer. And yet, somehow, some fans were upset over the deal. So for those fans and for everybody else who’s questioning why this move was made, allow me to explain.
First off, I want to say that this move probably won’t make too much of an impact. I’m not out here trying to convince everyone that THIS is the big move we were anticipating from Dubas and that this trade will be the reason the Leafs win every game for the rest of the season and win the Stanley Cup. That’s not the case at all.
But the move was far from a bad one. I can tell you that much.
Mason Marchment has 18 points through 24 games with the Marlies this season after missing a chunk due to injury. He’s also gotten a taste of NHL action with the Maple Leafs, registering one assist through four games.
Denis Malgin, meanwhile, is in his fourth season of NHL action and has 12 points through 36 games on the season. It’s been reported that he requested a trade multiple times between this season and last season and now he’s finally gotten it.
The main reason some fans were disappointed with the move was because Marchment brings an element of grit with his game. He’s not afraid to throw the body or even drop the gloves if he has to. So for a team like the Leafs who lack that element with the exception of a few players, why would they get rid of him?
The reality is, the Maple Leafs made this move because they’ve gotten next to nothing from their bottom six lately. We all know how important depth is down the stretch, and the Leafs have been heavily relying on their big guns for scoring over the past few games. Problem is, when the big guns aren’t scoring, nobody is. And the injury to Johnsson hurts that.
Malgin hasn’t been electrifying in the NHL, but he’s a skilled forward who could surely add some jump to this group when they need it the most. And if he doesn’t work out, his entry level deal expires this season.
This move also likely means that one of Frederik Gauthier or Dmytro Timashov’s time in Toronto is up. Malgin would require waivers to go to the AHL, so it’s unlikely the Leafs would give up assets for somebody only to waive them and potentially lose them for nothing.
Essentially, the whole point of this move was to upgrade their bottom six depth. They basically took a fringe-NHLer who’s turning 25 in March, and turned it into a 23 year-old NHL player. And for those who are upset at the loss of grit in Marchment, he hasn’t displayed any indication of that grit to his game in his small sample size.
Another thing worth noting is that this move doesn’t mean the Leafs are done making trades. The reality is, they’ve got multiple needs they need to address. And while the elephant in the room is a defenseman, I’m confident they’re only trading for a defenseman if they’re part of the long term plans or at least have the intention to fill in a big role.
Basically, I’m confident they’ll make a move for a defenseman, but I can’t see it being a bottom pairing guy. Because in that case, who do they replace? There’s no way Rasmus Sandin is going to the minors at this point, and the next guy who would go is Travis Dermott. And you likely won’t find a better bottom pairing defenseman than Dermott.
If you’re too angry over the state of the Leafs and couldn’t be bothered to read the whole article, I’ll give you the cliff notes version here: The Leafs upgraded their bottom six, but they likely aren’t done making moves. They just have lots of needs to address before Monday and this is one of them. Will it send them straight to the Stanley Cup? No. It is a bad move then? Absolutely not.
In the end, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to keep their foot on the gas and figure it out before they lose any more ground to the Florida Panthers. And the trade for Malgin is a step, albeit a small one, in the right direction.