Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Deadline High-End Trade Option

Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are currently threatening to run away with the President’s Trophy.

Of course the Toronto Maple Leafs have never actually won such a trophy, so I hate to get too excited, we are after all, talking about the Leafs. But leading the NHL this far into the season is still fun, even if we are conditioned to be skeptical about it.

The Leafs, being contenders, will likely do what ever NHL contender does: add talent at the trade deadline.  The Leafs have a bit of a weird situation because their team hasn’t been healthy for any stretch of games, the season is short and the two week quarantine for American players makes trades difficult.

Addionally, a fully healthy Toronto Maple Leafs team is going to sit some pretty good players, so who they should go for and how much they should be willing to pay are legitimate questions the team will have to face.

To my mind, since you might not even see your optimal lineup once before you’d need to make a trade for the playoffs, I think the Leafs should focus on the most talented players they can find; the most high-impact player, regardless of position.

One player that could fit that bill is Anthony Mantha in Detroit.

Toronto Maple Leafs High-End Option

Mantha has three years left on a reasonable $5.7 million dollar contract. He is 26 years old.  He plays right wing (no problem since William Nylander is a very good left winger).

The reason he might be available is that he’s having a pretty miserable season with just five goals and nine points in 23 games, Detroit is terrible and by the time they are good Mantha will just be ready to decline and or ask for a new contract.

It makes sense, given their timetable for competing, to get something for Anthony Mantha.  An analytics monster, the Leafs are exactly the team who would try to buy low on him.

Mantha makes almost six million dollars, so in order for the Leafs to get him, Detroit would have to retain half his salary.  Detroit has money, and since they likely won’t be trying to win a Cup in the next three years the extra assets they’d get for retaining money would be enticing.

Make no mistake, such a trade would cost the Leafs a first rounder and probably at least one of Rasmus Sandin or Nick Robertson, and possibly that wouldn’t even be enough.

But Mantha is a defensive monster who can score. He is an extremely good player who, despite not being able to score this year, has a 54% puck-possession rating on one of the NHL’s worst team. His on-ice shooting percentage is under 7, a huge sign that a player is getting unlucky. (stats

Over the last three seasons, Mantha is better offensively at 5v5 than 96% of players, and he is better defensively than 94% of players.  Quite simply, when each team has five players on the ice, Anthony Mantha is one of the best players in the NHL.  (From Jfresh player cards).

Next. Leafs Top Priority. dark

With Mantha in the fold, the Big Four would become the Big Five.   The Leafs would be unstoppable. It would be comparable to the Penguins, Red Wings and Black Hawks acquiring Marian Hossa.  (Not saying Mantha is THAT good, but he’s an reasonably facsimile).