The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded Kurtis Gabriel to the Chicago Blackhawks.
This wasn’t the trade many Leafs fans have been expecting. With Petr Mrazek and Ilya Mikheyev due of the Injured Reserve any time now, and a six-game Jason Spezza suspension that severely limits their flexibility (because they have to bring in someone to replace Spezza, but his cap hit just sits there) it is fair to have been expecting a much larger move.
Even though this is just a minor trade, it’s a great move for everyone involved.
Toronto Maple Leafs Make a Small Trade
This trade helps the Hawks because it gives them a potentially useful NHL player.
It helps Gabriel because on the Leafs he was way too far down the depth chart already, and the club just added Kyle Clifford, so he had no real path to NHL playing time.
It helps the Leafs because they trade a player they didn’t need for an asset that is younger, cheaper, and has way, way higher potential.
It helps Krys because he is close to being a draft bust who needs the classic change of scenery.
As Michael Scott would say, it’s win-win-win-win.
Krys is a former second rounder from 2016 (Taken after the Leafs took Egor Korshkov and before they took Joseph Holl) who has not made an impact at the AHL level and has never played an NHL game.
It is highly likely that he does nothing and this trade amounts to little more than the Toronto Maple Leafs doing a favor for Kurtis Gabriel. But, there is a long-shot chance that Krys turns into a decent player.
He’s got talent – hence the second round selection – and if he can tap into, the Leafs win. If he doesn’t, then they lose nothing. These types of no-risk moves are the bread and butter of any competent manager, regardless of what business you’re in. You know that most of them will never pan out, but it’s a volume play – make enough no-risk bets and since one is bound to work out eventually, every one you make has a tiny bit of implied value.
These moves are especially prudent for teams who are competitive and have real incentives to trade their current draft picks.
This is a trade that is mostly about doing Kurtis Gabriel the favor of putting him on a team who will be more likely to call him up, but it does give the Leafs a nice little lottery ticket.