The Toronto Maple Leafs are playing exceptional hockey despite getting nothing from Nick Ritchie this year.
When you look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster right now, the biggest concern is which player will be playing beside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner every night. Nick Ritchie was supposed to be that impact player and potential replacement of Zach Hyman, but he still hasn’t scored a goal.
Meanwhile, Michael Bunting and Alex Kerfoot have been pleasant surprises in the top-six, but the team would be better suited with only one of them playing that role.
When Ilya Mikheyev returns from injury, he’ll more than likely be placed in the top-six beside a combination of Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander and/or John Tavares. Although that may seem like a solution, we’ve seen this scenario for the past two years and it’s not worth exploring again.
Since the team has played great without him in the lineup the entire season, Mikheyev should be looked at as a trade-chip more than a solution. With little salary-cap room, the team would need to match any potential contract they bring in so whether that’s Mikheyev, Pierre Engvall, Nick Ritchie, Alex Kerfoot or any other player, someone is going to have to get traded if the Toronto Maple Leafs want to add.
Similarly to how they brought in Nick Foligno last season, the Leafs will probably want to bring in a player with zero dollars tied to them next year. The one issue with the Foligno addition was that he barely played any games with the team before the playoffs started, so I feel like it would be better for this team to make a trade sooner than later to help get them accustomed to the roster.
Here are three options the Leafs could trade for.