Will the Toronto Maple Leafs Look For Help In the Desert?

DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
DALLAS, TX - JUNE 22: General manager Kyle Dubas of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on during the first round of the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 22, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will need to clear some cap space if they want to make a significant addition at the NHL’s Trade Deadline.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in 4th place overall in the NHL (by points percentage) and so they will most likely want to improve their team heading into the playoffs.

It’s possible that Kyle Dubas may have found a trade partner willing to help him with his salary cap problem. That partner is Bill Armstrong, the general manager of the Arizona Coyotes. On Tuesday during Insider Trading, TSN hockey insider Chris Johnston reported that Armstrong has made it known to his fellow GMs that Arizona is willing to take on contracts or money in exchange for future assets.

According to capfriendly.com, the Coyotes currently have just over $7 million in cap space. That amount is without putting any of their injured players onto Long Term Injury Reserve (LTIR). They have $8.69 million worth of cap space sitting on IR right now. Some of that could be moved to LTIR if needed.

Toronto will likely not need to pay another team to take on any of their players, but they could still work out a deal with Arizona because they have room to make it happen.

Players The Toronto Maple Leafs Could Send To Arizona

Toronto will need to shed cap space to upgrade their defense before the NHL playoffs. They will need to have a minimum of $2 million in cap space by the trade deadline. However, if they can find a way to enter the trade market with closer to $5 million, they will be in a much better position.

Nick Ritchie

Toronto signed Nick Ritchie to a two-year contract in the off-season. The salary cap hit for Ritchie is $2.5 million per season. Right now, the Maple Leafs have his contract buried to give them some cap relief. If they could trade him, they could remove his entire cap hit from their books.

Ritchie cleared waivers and is likely the only player on the roster the Leafs would actually have to pay another team to take.

Justin Holl

He makes $2 million and plays in the most likely position for the Leafs to upgrade.  It wouldn’t be necessary to pay a team to take him, but he might get moved to clear some space.

Ilya Mikheyev

Ilya Mikheyev will become an Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) this summer. It is unlikely that Toronto will re-sign him for more than the $1.645 million he is currently making. With Mikheyev playing well since returning to the lineup, now would be the perfect time to capitalize on his trade value.

Then again, he’s playing great, the team is rolling, and he’s excellent value on his money. He would be unlikely to move.

Pierre Engvall

Pierre Engvall has a salary cap hit of $1.25 million this season. He will become a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) this off-season. Engvall has scored 2 points per 60 minutes of 5v5 ice time this season, which is a first line rate.  He has a 55% expected-goals rating, despite spending the majority of his time playing extremely defensive minutes with David Kampf.  He could be moved, but considering the minimal savings and excellent play, it is unlikely.

Prospects The Toronto Maple Leafs Might Use To Persuade Arizona

The Coyotes said they would take on salary if future assets were also included in any trades. Toronto GM Kyle Dubas is not one to give up on too many prospects, but these are a few he might use to make a deal happen.

Pontus Holmberg

Pontus Holmberg is a 22-year-old prospect drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL draft. He is currently set to play for Team Sweden at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Holmberg was on loan to the SHL this season. He has 28 points in 34 games for the Vaxjo Lakers HC. After next season, Holmberg will become an RFA.

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev

Semyon Der-Arguchintsev is a 21-year-old prospect drafted in the third round of the 2018 draft. He is in his second season with the Toronto Marlies and has 17 points in 31 games. During his final OHL season, he registered 75 points in 55 games. On the depth chart, Der-Arguchintsev is behind Alex Steeves and Mikhail Abramov. He will become an RFA after next season.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs may want to upgrade their defense. If Dubas can get Arizona to take on a salary by including a prospect in the deal, then I think he should do it. Toronto doesn’t have much in terms of 2022 draft picks, but could try to include some 2023 picks.