What if the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t make a big trade at the NHL Trade Deadline?
The Toronto Maple Leafs are on-pace for their best season in franchise history. They could possibly have a Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Hart Trophy winner on their team and if they get some above-average goaltending, everything will be fixed, right?
We all thought Toronto needed an upgrade at the left-wing position, but it seems solved with the addition of Nick Robertson. We also all wanted an upgrade at defense, but Ilya Lyubushkin (or the Russian Bear) has turned into every fan’s favorite player.
Even since Lybushkin joined the team, he’s been hitting everyone in sight is the exact player that this team was missing.
The biggest question-mark is goaltending but the only netminder who’s arguably a better option than Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek gets to choose his destiny and he may not even want to get dealt to Toronto.
So what happens if Toronto doesn’t make a trade at the Deadline? Do they really even need to make a big deal to compete for a Stanley Cup?
What if the Toronto Maple Leafs Don’t Make a Big Trade?
If Toronto doesn’t make a big trade at the Deadline this year, everyone should lose their minds. I am the typical laid-back Leafs fan that trusts the process and doesn’t let one bad loss, or bad few weeks ruin the season, but if they don’t go all-in right now, I’m going to lose it.
The team is in an unbelievable position, but they need goaltending help. They also need a top-four defenseman and both of those things need to happen.
If Marc-Andre Fleury wants to play in Toronto, the Leafs should give up whatever’s needed to acquire his services. With five Stanley Cup Finals appearances, he’s someone you can finally trust in the biggest games and may be the difference between winning and losing a playoff series.
The same thing applies to the defense-core. Personally, I think they’re a good group and are actually underrated. Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin seem to get better with every game and the addition of Lybushkin is a great fit.
However, we have no idea what Jake Muzzin is going to look like when he returns. Toronto needs to trade for another top-four defenseman to solidify the group and give this team as much depth as possible.
I don’t want to see it happen, but if a defenseman like Morgan Rielly or T.J. Brodie get injured, this team is finished. They need another player who can eat up big minutes and be reliable in a playoff game.
As per the forward group, I don’t think they actually need to do much. If they can acquire a swiss-army knife like a Marcus Johansson, who can play wing and centre, and is a cheap contract, then sure. However, I don’t think they need to go big-name hunting at the forward position.
Their top-six is in a great spot, while Ondrej Kase and Ilya Mikheyev have been flying lately.
Instead of trading for someone, I think a late-season call-up can be just as significant. Bring in Matthew Knies or Nick Abruzzese and let their energy run the fourth-line as this team gets to the playoffs.
Similarly to Kasperi Kapanen a few years ago, the Leafs have enough forward depth in the organization right now, so they don’t need to make a trade there.
Overall, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to do something. Defense and goaltending win playoff series, so this team needs to do what’s right and make a big move before they can’t.