The Toronto Maple Leafs completed a second trade in as many days with the Arizona Coyotes, acquiring goalie Carter Hutton for future considerations.
While on the surface it looks to be a deal to shore up some further NHL goaltending depth, especially with Michael Hutchinson the next most experienced in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, perhaps that’s not the full story.
The most interesting element is that the Leafs, instead of bringing him to Toronto and an already clogged Marlies net, immediately loaned him back to Arizona’s affiliate side, the Tuscon Roadrunners.
One might think that the Maple Leafs were simply making a noble decision, what with the 36 year-old having a wife and two kids in Arizona, but it’s also fair to imagine there may be more to this.
The deal with Carter Hutton and the Toronto Maple Leafs?
You only need look at the fact the Toronto Maple Leafs have taken on Ryan Dzingel, Ilya Lyubushkin and Carter Hutton, taking $3.2 million in cap hit off Arizona’s books.
Of course, Nick Ritchie went the opposite way and provided he doesn’t remain in the minors, will be costing Arizona $2.5 million.
Either way, for a team that pinches pennies and is likely to feel the squeeze even more with it’s massive downgrade in capacity next year, that $700,000 is still money in the bank. However, you have to wonder whether there’s more to this, especially given the Hutton trade was for thus far, unannounced, future considerations.
Perhaps those considerations are simply a side deal to ensure the Coyotes take the Leafs’ 2023 third-round pick rather than their 2025 2nd-round pick. Or perhaps there’s another player that appeals to the Toronto Maple Leafs and taking on the salary of Carter Hutton, at their earliest possible convenience, was part of the price they’ll pay.
Glancing across the Arizona roster, the only name that stands out as particularly worthwhile acquiring is Jakob Chychrun. Otherwise, it’s a bit of a motley crew of veterans, young and very unproven talents and two-time Stanley Cup winner, Phil Kessel.
Realistically a deal for Chychrun would require a lot more moving parts though than simply taking on some salary in the short-term. Given his age, just 23 years old and his cheap $4.6 million annual cap hit for 3 more seasons, the asking price likely involves a first-round pick and not spare parts.
Where the Carter Hutton side-deal may come into play though is some salary retention in a three-way trade. Perhaps there Toronto Maple Leafs have a player in mind but know they can’t make the money work without a third party. That could very well be the missing piece of this puzzling trade with the Coyotes.
There may be more to this trade, or it could turn out that the Toronto Maple Leafs just saw a way to acquire a depth goalie without losing him on waivers. Every time the Leafs have tried to build depth at the goalie position, they get thwarted by the rules that are in place to prevent teams from keeping NHL players in the minors. So, by acquiring an injured goalie, they might just have found a way to keep an NHL quality insurance policy in the minors.