Alright, Toronto Maple Leafs fans, it is that time of year again.
The time of year when the Toronto Maple Leafs are linked to every available player on the trade market. We all know that Toronto could use an upgrade or two, but can they afford it?
It is true that both general manager Kyle Dubas and his right-hand man Brandon Pridham have a knack for mastering the salary cap to make deals happen. So I’m sure they are looking at every available option to upgrade.
Dubas will be looking to upgrade his defense, but it is unknown how much he is willing to spend for an upgrade. After last season’s trade for Nick Foligno did not work out, some would wonder if Dubas is okay trading a first-round pick for another rental?
There has been one defenseman recently mentioned that Toronto might have interest in at the deadline. He would be a rental, so interest from the Maple Leafs might be limited.
Toronto Maple Leafs and John Klingberg
On Wednesday, January 12th, James Mirtle collaborated with Saad Yousuf to discuss the situation in Dallas with John Klingberg. They pointed out that Klingberg has become frustrated with contract talks with the Dallas Stars.
The 29-year-old is set to hit the open market as a unrestricted free agent this summer. If a contract extension can not be reached with the Stars by the March 21st trade deadline, he is likely to be traded. Klingberg has a $4.5 million salary cap hit, so Toronto would need to clear some cap space for this trade to work. (Salary cap stats from: Capfriendly.com)
Klingberg is an offense-only defenseman who has declined in recent years. It would be hard to imagine the Leafs swapping out Justin Holl for a worse defensive player whose main value comes from offense, something the Leafs are not missing.
Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Options
Looking around the NHL, it is starting to become clearer who the sellers and buyers will be at the trade deadline. Here are a few options for the Maple Leafs to consider for upgrading their defense. All of these players have term left on their contract and more appealing to Kyle Dubas.
Scott Mayfield (NYI)
Scott Mayfield has a salary cap hit of $1.45 million with one more season left on his current contract. Both the term and cap hit would be attractive to Dubas and the Maple Leafs. Mayfield is a great defender and is right handed. He is likely an upgrade over Justin Holl.
Luke Schenn (VAN)
Some Leafs fans would laugh at the idea of bringing Luke Schenn back to Toronto, but he has proven to be valuable in the playoffs. He was a part of both Tampa Bay Lightning teams that won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Schenn has one more year after this one on his current contract with a low salary cap hit of $850,000. A first-round pick will not be needed to acquire Schenn.
Schenn has solid defensive numbers, but is an upgrade over Holl? At this point in his career it would be a lot to ask of Schenn to play top-four minutes. As a depth upgrade though, he may be a smart acquisition.
Damon Severson (NJD)
Damon Severson would be a defenseman with term left on his deal that Dubas might be willing to part with a first-round pick to acquire. Any trade for Severson would include multiple players going back to New Jersey to fit Severson’s $4.16 million salary cap for this season and next. If Dubas is lucky, he could get the Devils to retain a portion of Severson’s cap. Doing so would be the reason for including a first-round pick in this trade.
As much as I think Klingberg would help the Maple Leafs down the stretch and in the playoffs, I think the asking price might be too high. Kyle Dubas would be better off finding a way to land a defenseman with some term left.