The Toronto Maple Leafs only need to make one move prior to the NHL Trade Deadline this year.
As a New Year begins, the next big day in the calendar for the Toronto Maple Leafs is the NHL Trade Deadline. Although it’s still two months away, that’ll be a key date to circle as it’ll be interesting to see how much the management group wants to tinker with the roster.
If you look at the Leafs forward group, they’re set. If you compare it to every other team in the NHL, you’re not going to find a much better and more balanced line-up.
The team has unreal skill and scoring power with Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander and have a great shutdown third-line led by Ondrej Kase and David Kampf. Even the fourth line has some juice with Jason Spezza, who can contribute offensively.
Despite the drama that comes with it, adding someone like Evander Kane to the top-six would make this line-up even more scary, but at this point, it doesn’t seem necessary to make a huge trade to improve the forward group. If they can add a free agent like Kane and not lose assets, than it makes a lot of sense, or if they only have to trade prospects/picks, then that makes a ton of sense too.
However, there’s really only one trade they need to make.
The One Trade the Toronto Maple Leafs Need to Make
Two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Lightning received a lot of criticism for trading high-end draft picks to acquire Barclay Goodrow and Blake Coleman, who weren’t well-known commodities. Then, they rattled off two straight Stanley Cup’s and nobody talked about it again.
The Leafs added their own version of Coleman and Goodrow with the Kase and Kampf signings in the offseason, so they don’t need to replicate that type of deal.
Instead, it’s another trade Tampa Bay made last year:
Last season, Tampa Bay traded three draft picks (2021 1st Round Pick, 2022 3rd Round Pick, 2021 4th Round Pick) for defenseman David Savard. It was a lot of draft picks to pay for a player who only played 34 games and contributed zero goals and only five assists, but it was the necessary move to help the Lightning win their second straight Stanley Cup.
Would Tampa Bay have potentially won the Stanley Cup without Savard?
They could have rolled into the playoffs relying on the same defensive-core that won them a Stanley Cup one year prior, but instead they took a risk to improve their roster. They made the necessary move to add another top-four defenseman, who was physical and could play a tight defensive game, which is what the playoffs are all about.
Toronto should be targeting someone like Ben Chiarot, who’s a pending UFA.
It’s never easy to trade with one of your rivals, but the Montreal Canadiens are in such a tailspin right now, that they may be able to work out a deal.
At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, Chiarot brings size and a defensive-first mentality. He’s also a Hamilton, ON native, so although he has a modified no-trade clause (player can submit a 10-team list), the Toronto Maple Leafs would likely be on his list of places to play.
In addition to his size, his $3.5M contract isn’t an impossible one to trade for, which helps the Leafs, who are up against the salary cap.
Instead of making a big splash at the deadline, the Leafs only need to make one move, and that move is to acquire Ben Chiarot.