The Toronto Maple Leafs are planning to make one more big move before the NHL Trade Deadline strikes at 3pm est on March 21st.
If you’ve been listening to Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas, lately, you know exactly what he’s looking for. He’s said they’re looking to add a defenseman, they’d like to make a hockey deal that will improve the team beyond this season, and he’d prefer a player with term.
The perfect trade partner for the Toronto Maple Leafs right now is the Seattle Kraken. The Kraken are looking for nearly the polar opposite of what the Leafs are looking for. The Kraken want to trade their older players and UFA’s, and they have a plethora of fine defensemen that they’re willing to part with.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. There are a lot of rumours right now involving Kraken defenseman and pending UFA, Mark Giordano. While Giordano is a great player, I’m not sure if he’s the perfect fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He plays the left side as does Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and Rasmus Sandin. He also has no term as a pending UFA.
(Some information from CapFriendly.com)
The Perfect Trade for the Toronto Maple Leafs Before the Deadline
At the expansion draft, the Seattle Kraken were said to have interest in a few Toronto Maple Leafs players including expansion exposed Alex Kerfoot and Travis Dermott and the protected Justin Holl.
Remember the leaked footage of the fish with Kerfoot’s name on it? I don’t think that was a coincidence. The scenario were the Seattle Kraken chose Alex Kerfoot was definitely a possibility.
Alright, here’s the trade:
To me, this seems like the perfect trade. The Toronto Maple Leafs have been linked to Jamie Oleksiak since he was with the Dallas Stars. He’s a Toronto boy (born and raised), and at 6’7, he’s the huge defenseman they’ve been looking for. He shoots left, but usually plays the right side.
Oleksiak does have a no trade clause in his contract, but I doubt the Toronto native would kibosh the opportunity to join his hometown contenders. He’s the top four defenseman they need.
Calle Järnkrok and Marcus Johansson are both pending UFA’s that would give the Toronto Maple Leafs forward depth for the playoffs. They are both versatile utility players that could play any forward position in a middle six or bottom six role when need.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were linked to Marcus Johansson when he was a free agent during this passed offseason. In retrospect, he would’ve been a better choice than Nick Ritchie, but that’s where the Leafs chose to spend their cap at the time. Kyle Dubas also knows Calle Järnkrok very well as Järnkrok was a client of Dubas back in Dubas’ days as a player agent.
Why Would Seattle Want These Toronto Maple Leafs Players?
Oleksiak may be the best player in this deal, but Seattle is getting the best forward in Alex Kerfoot. He’s just what the Kraken are looking for, a younger forward with another year left on his contract. He was just moved to Toronto’s fourth line (maybe to protect him from injury before the deadline), but he would be one of Seattle’s top four forwards.
With Jake Muzzin returning and the addition of Oleksiak, Holl and Dermott are very expendable in Toronto, but they have value in the eyes of the Kraken. Both Holl and Dermott have another year left on their contracts and Dermott will still be an RFA when his contract is up.
Dermott is 25 years old where Oleksiak is 29, so if the Kraken have a four or five year plan to become competitive, Dermott will still be in his prime, where Oleksiak would likely be turning a corner in his effectiveness.
Justin Holl is a cheap place holder if the Kraken are moving Giordano, Oleksiak and/or Adam Larsson. They could even trade Holl at next year’s deadline for assets before he’s a UFA.
What Would the Toronto Maple Leafs Look Like After this Trade?
In this scenario, the Toronto Maple Leafs would get to keep their few remaining 2022 NHL Draft picks and their cupboard of prospects to help them in the future. They also gain $2.4 million in cap space next season if they don’t re-sign Järnkrok and Johansson.
Jamie Oleksiak would play on a shutdown line with Jake Muzzin when Muzzin returns. I’m thinking Calle Järnkrok plays second line left wing and Marcus Johansson plays fourth line or waits his turn in the press box.
This trade would add $1.1 million to the Toronto Maple Leafs cap which they could still afford when Muzzin returns if they assign Kyle Clifford, Timothy Liljegren and Nick Robertson to the Toronto Marlies or if someone else goes down with injury.
If the Leafs really want to keep Liljegren and Robertson with the team, the other option would be to put Johansson through waivers after the deadline and assign him to the Marlies. It’s unlikely that another team would claim him since he would be ineligible to play in the playoffs and he’s a UFA after this season.
I can’t wait to see what the Toronto Maple Leafs do before the NHL Trade Deadline. I really hope they can get the top four defenseman they need without having to give up too many picks, prospects and reliable roster players.