Toronto Maple Leafs Trade for Injured Forward Riley Nash

Riley Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets (Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)
Riley Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets (Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs wanted a defensive forward, and they got him

The Toronto Maple Leafs were looking to add a cheap, defensive option to their group of forwards, and Riley Nash fits the bill.  While he isn’t the top name people expected the team to trade for, he is a quality player that doesn’t cost anything to add.

General manager Kyle Dubas called Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen about one player. No, it wasn’t Nick Foligno (or was it?). Dubas decided to trade for Riley Nash.

It raises some questions considering he is on long-term injured reserve, but there is a method behind the madness. Dubas only gave up a conditional seventh-round pick. That becomes a sixth-round pick if Nash plays more than 25 percent of Toronto’s playoff games.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Columbus Blue Jackets

Concerns regarding the salary cap came up but got put to rest quickly. Nash’s placement on the LTIR means his cap hit will not affect the team. By the time he is healthy, which will likely be the playoffs, the salary cap doesn’t matter.

Dubas expects the forward to be a key contributor come playoff-time. He is a defensive center that had playoff success with the Jackets and the Boston Bruins. Dubas and head coach Sheldon Keefe are hoping he brings that success to Toronto in an area that the team needs help.

Except for one career year in ’17-’18, Riley is not a forward that will have much of an impact offensively. Considering Toronto ranks third in the NHL for goals scored per game, they don’t need offense. Instead, the team needs help defensively.

Nash will be a reliable defensive option come playoff-time to center the fourth line and even play on the penalty kill. Again, it was at a low cost, meaning there is no risk to the move.

On the Blue Jackets, there were only three players that played in at least 20 games with a better plus-minus than Riley’s -1. That’s saying a lot considering the team has a -31 goal differential.

Will the trade have a significant impact on the team? No, it won’t. Then again, a sixth or seventh-round pick won’t fetch you that caliber of a player.

As expected, Dubas continued looking for other upgrades to the team. Ironically, he found another on the same team one day after the Nash trade.

Next. The Leafs Make a Second Trade. dark

If all else fails, the Toronto Maple Leafs wasted a seventh-round pick. For a team stacking their depth heading into the playoffs, I would make that trade any day. If injuries creep up, they have a reliable defensive center in Riley Nash at their disposal.