The Toronto Maple Leafs have enough depth in the organization that they needn’t pay high prices for last-minute additions at the Trade Deadline.
In previous years, the Toronto Maple Leafs have given up our right to pick in the first round of the Entry Draft in return for players like Nick Foligno and Jake Muzzin. Neither was necessarily a bad option at the time, but neither made any difference to their eventual first-round exits.
Perhaps, rather than giving up a first round pick and potentially prospects, we need to look at rewarding the options already within the organization.
Right now, they seem reasonably set with the top-six, if not the top-nine of the roster. The likes of Michael Bunting, Ondrej Kase and David Kampf have cemented their places. Likewise, the return of Ilya Mikheyev to form and Alex Kerfoot stepping up has filled other roles.
This means that realistically the Toronto Maple Leafs only need to add to their depth. Assuming the worst and an injury down the center, there is already options available with Jason Spezza or Alex Kerfoot.
Assuming injuries on defense; well, it’s not been pretty but they’ve been managing there without Jake Muzzin. There’s not a ton of depth in the organization, but equally, there’s not that many great options out there that are available.
This scenario would mean Sheldon Keefe having to put even more trust in guys like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren.
Toronto Maple Leafs Shouldn’t Make Big Trades
Going down the depth chart, it’d be guys like Mac Hollowell, Alex Biega, Kristian Rubins and Jospeh Duszak expected to step up. It’s a scenario we don’t want to think about necessarily, but other teams have coped in the past. The Boston Bruins had to use Connor Clifton when he was 12th on their depth chart and he’s made it stick, after all.
An injury to Jack Campbell or Petr Mrazek would be the worst possible scenario and you’d have to hope for Erik Kallgren, Jospeh Woll or Michael Hutchinson to get the job done.
Assuming injuries on the wings though, there’s a plethora of options waiting on the Toronto Marlies’ roster.
Josh Ho-Sang seems to have revitalised his career playing with the Toronto Marlies, and by all accounts, his appreciation of the opportunity to do so could lead to a hometown discount if he signed an NHL deal.
We’re talking a player that could reasonably step straight into the top six, skill-wise, and not really miss a beat. To have that sort of player sitting on an AHL deal is a massive organizational advantage. Of course, his career has been plagued by what-if scenarios, but you have to trust he has matured as a both a person and player.
Likewise, Nick Robertson is sitting there, raring to go, especially after a season of injury setbacks. From the brief showings we’ve seen at NHL level last season and during the pre-season, he seems like he could slot onto an NHL roster without too many struggles.
The Toronto Maple Leafs also have the NHL experience of Nick Ritchie and Kyle Clifford currently on the Marlies roster and we certainly have a level of depth in terms of simply swapping players onto the roster. Between them, they have 102 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience; not too bad for guys currently buried in the minors. (stats hockeyreference.com).
While of course, there are certain risks to not adding players at the Trade Deadline, there could also be big rewards. The guys on Toronto Marlies’ roster already have a strong idea of what is expected by the Toronto Maple Leafs. There is unlikely to be the same challenges adapting to a new team and new city, while also preparing for the playoffs.
On top of that, the Leafs get the chance to start replenishing the prospect cupboard this summer. This is going to be key if they want to become a long-term contender, ensuring they make the playoffs as a matter of course.