4 Defenseman the Toronto Maple Leafs May Target in Trade

TORONTO, ON-Toronto-DUBAS.The Maple Leafs announced today the promotion of Kyle Dubas to General Manager. Brendan Shanahan was on hand for the announcement..May 11, 2018. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON-Toronto-DUBAS.The Maple Leafs announced today the promotion of Kyle Dubas to General Manager. Brendan Shanahan was on hand for the announcement..May 11, 2018. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /
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TORONTO, ON-Toronto-DUBAS.The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today the promotion of Kyle Dubas. (Rene Johnston/Toronto Star via Getty Images) /

Wild Card: Esa Lindell

2019 – 20 Stats: 3 goals – 20 assists – 23 points – 69 games

Age at Start of 2020 – 21 Season: 26

Contract: $5,800,000 x 5 years

I suggested Esa Lindell as a wild card option because, for one, I do not believe he is currently available out of Dallas.

He is young, locked up long term, can handle top-four minutes, and is skilled in the defensive zone. Lindell represents a significant component of the Dallas blueline.

But, with Dallas’ offensive struggles clear, and should the franchise not reach their postseason goals this season because of it, GM Jim Nill should prioritize adding scoring talent this offseason, and it may come at a cost of one of their star blueliners.

Miro Heiskanen is an immediate no-go as he is 20 years old is already one of the better defensemen in the league. Still, in his prime at age 27, John Klingberg is also not going anywhere as he has transformed himself into an offensive dynamo, ranking ninth in points by defensemen over the past four seasons. All of this leaves Lindell as the odd man out.

Why Toronto Would Be Interested:

Continuing the trend of big body defensemen, Lindell fits right in with the names above him. At 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, the defensive specialist would instantly become one of Toronto’s biggest defensemen.

Lindell’s calling card is his gap control and blue line efficiency. Similar to Brodin, Lindell is a league leader in zone entry denials, ranking in the 90th percentile in breakups/60 last season as well as 94th percentile in possession entry allowed percentage (stats; Corey Sznajder, @ShutdownLine).

Additionally, the Stars leaned on Lindell heavily in the defensive zone. In 2018 – 19, the talented Finn ranked first among defensemen in defensive zone face-offs and first in defensive zone starts, all leading to the Stars giving up the third least 5-on-5 goals and ranking second in 5-on-5 high danger goals against. (stats; evolving-hockey.com).

Lindell also excelled on the penalty kill. His 265 short-handed minutes were second in the league, guiding the Stars to the fifth-best penalty kill.

Will the Leafs Pursue him?

Maybe. The contract might be a little rich, but then again, it may also prove to be a fair and valuable deal.

Next. Breaking Down Toronto Maple Leafs Extended Roster Options. dark

It remains to be seen if Kyle Dubas wants to go for the bigger name defender and spend in the offseason or choose to trade for a diamond-in-the-rough type of defender. Either way, I expect a busy offseason from the sophomore general manager.