The third realistic trade target is someone already linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brandon Hagel. According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, Toronto has already engaged in conversations with the Chicago Blackhawks about the left-winger.
Hagel doesn’t fit an immediate need for the Leafs, which is mainly improving their defense core, but he gives the team a gritty winger who can score. Most importantly, he does it at a cap hit of $1.5 million and team control until the conclusion of the 2023-24 season. At that point, he will be become a restricted free agent.
Hagel is also just 23 years old, which suggests that he can still grow and improve his game. Seravelli called him, “this year’s version of a Blake Coleman or Barclay Goodrow” and added that it will cost a suitor a miniature fortune to acquire the forward. “Hagel’s contract and cost certainty is making teams drool. He is in first-round pick plus top prospect territory, which is understandable given the contract, his production and style of play.”
In order to make this addition, the Leafs will need to give up some significant assets, which they have. While it may make fans uncomfortable to give up a first-round pick in this coming year’s draft since it is such a loaded field, it is a strong move given the opportunity that Hagel provides.
This season, Hagel has 27 points in 45 games, registering 14 goals and 13 assists. While he may not be the player fans are hoping for, he could easily become one they fall in love with.
A lot can happen before the trade deadline, including injuries and creating holes that need filling on rosters. It will be interesting to see what the Leafs ultimately do.