Toronto Maple Leafs: Do Cup Contenders Trade Draft Picks at Deadline?

Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Mandatory Credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs

With their first and second round picks available, the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be in a good position compared to the other Stanley Cup contenders in terms of having top 2022 draft pick to trade.  Tampa Bay has their first rounder and Carolina has their second rounder, but Colorado and Florida have neither.

That puts the Toronto Maple Leafs in a better position than any of these top contenders to bolster their lineup at the NHL trade deadline with a high end player to help them on their cup run.

I’ve heard a lot of talk about Scott Wheeler’s 2022 NHL Prospect Pool Rankings from The Athletic and how the Toronto Maple Leafs are “only” ranked 15th.  For a Stanley Cup contender to be ranked that high is actually an incredible achievement.

The Colorado Avalanche are ranked 21st, the Florida Panthers are ranked 23rd and the Tampa Bay Lightning are ranked 30th.  The Carolina Hurricane are the exception as they’re ranked 9th, but that’s more of a nod to Carolina than a knock to Toronto.

In today’s NHL, you do need to build through the draft and the Toronto Maple Leafs have already done that.  Auston Matthew, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly… these core players were drafted when the Leafs were rebuilding and are now in their prime.

Key players like John Tavares, Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie have already been brought in and given good money to win now.  They aren’t getting any younger, and the clock on their effectiveness is ticking.

There are also clocks on some of key contracts, especially concerning pending UFA Jack Campbell.  Who knows if he’ll be with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.

The time to win is now!  They need to go all in.

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I think the Leafs will want to keep one of their top two picks for the 2022 draft, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded the other top pick, prospects and/or 2023 picks to bolster their playoff roster at the trade deadline.  I don’t think they’ll add as many players as last year, but one or two great roster players could push them over the edge.