Toronto Maple Leafs: Nick Foligno a Solid, Intelligent Addition

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 2: Nick Foligno #71 of the Columbus Blue Jackets controls the puck during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena on March 2, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images)
COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 2: Nick Foligno #71 of the Columbus Blue Jackets controls the puck during the game against the Detroit Red Wings at Nationwide Arena on March 2, 2021 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Kirk Irwin/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have less than 24 hours to add to their team ahead of tomorrow’s 3PM NHL Trade Deadline.

Leading up to the deadline, the Toronto Maple Leafs made a big move Sunday acquiring Nick Foligno from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a first and fourth round pick.  The Leafs also acquired a meaningless player and sent the Sharks a fourth rounder in order to retain some additional salary.

All told, the Leafs get Nick Foligno for a 1st and two fourths.

It’s an expensive trade on the surface, but more because of opportunity costs than anything else.  By using their first rounder on Nick Foligno, the Leafs can’t use it on Taylor Hall or someone who would have a much larger impact than Foligno.

A first for a rental of a checking winger would be a high price to pay, but as the first rounder spent to get out Patrick Marleau’s deal reminds us, context is everything.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Nick Foligno

It was worth it for the Leafs to pay a first rounder to save six million dollars on the salary cap, and the high cost to acquire Foligno is largely to get Columbus to pay half his salary, which is also probably worth it.

I like this trade, a lot.  Foligno is the personification of the cliched NHL Playoff Warrior type, and he is statistically a great defensive player.  At this point, he’s far removed from the guy who scored 31 and then 26 goals.  Today, Foligno is a grinder and doesn’t really provide anything offensively.

That’s fine with the Leafs who are yet to ice a steady shut-down line, and who can’t, as much as they’d apparently like to, play Zach Hyman on all four lines at once.

‘A caveat when looking at the 90% 5v5 defense rating is that last year he was infallible and just OK in the two years around that.  Still, if his game has declined slightly, it should be noted that the Leafs can use him in a more limited role that he was getting in Columbus where he got the ice time of a top player.

Foligno’s stats (Corsi, Expected Goals, etc.) are terrible this year, with Columbus losing quite badly whenever he is on the ice.  In his defense, he starts among the lowest amount of shifts in the offensive zone on his team, and his team stinks.

"I have often been skeptical of the romanticizing of “playoff hockey” but it’s hard to argue anyone better fits that profile that Nick Foligno.What’s it really going to cost to add Foligno? A second rounder? Maybe Timothy Liljegren if there’s a bidding war?  If so, this is probably smart.  I would put the probability of the Toronto Maple Leafs adding Nick Foligno at extremely high.   James Tanner, One Month Ago"

Last year in the playoffs Foligno was tasked with playing again Matthews and Marner and while the results were good (no goals against) the Corsi and Expected Goals were not. Essentially, it’s hard to know if Foligno shut down the Leafs or if Columbus goalie did all the work, but the stats suggest the goalie.  (

On the Toronto Maple Leafs – barring a trade for a high-end player – Foligno is most likely to slot in with Engvall and Mikheyev on the third line, freeing up Hyman to play with Matthews and Marner.  If Keefe elects to go with Tavares-Matthews-Marner in important games (as he is wont to do) then Foligno-Nylander-Galchenyuk is another potential option.

Basically, he gives the Leafs a ton of options, because he’s versatile enough that they can basically play him anywhere.  The cost here doesn’t bother me, because although it’s expensive, this is a quality addition to the team.  And after the top five picks, first rounders are super overrated anyways.

Overall, not quite the home run I was hoping for, but the Leafs aren’t done yet, and this makes them better.  It’s also a lot better use of a first round pick than Kyle Palmieri or David Savard.  A high cost, to be sure, but I love having Nick Foligno aboard.

Next. Leafs Trade Rumour Roundup. dark

And, for what it’s worth, the Leafs were shut down, in part at least, by Foligno and Nash last year, and now they have both of them.