What Defenseman Are the Toronto Maple Leafs Going to Trade For?

OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 15: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his second period goal with team mates on the bench Rasmus Sandin #38, Tyson Barrie #94 and Justin Holl #3 at Canadian Tire Centre on February 15, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)
OTTAWA, ON - FEBRUARY 15: Jake Muzzin #8 of the Toronto Maple Leafs celebrates his second period goal with team mates on the bench Rasmus Sandin #38, Tyson Barrie #94 and Justin Holl #3 at Canadian Tire Centre on February 15, 2020 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are more than likely going to acquire another defenseman by Monday at 3:00PM EST, but who will it be?

The rest of the league has been busy over the past few days, but the Toronto Maple Leafs have been silent, which means something is going to happen soon.

Over the past few months, fans and NHL insiders have been talking about who the Leafs should trade for, with anticipation. First, it was a top-six left-winger, then a goaltender, but now it feels like it’s going to be a defenseman.

The left-wing position has been saved by Nick Robertson’s addition to the line-up, while Erik Kallgren has helped ease the criticism in net. Both of these things may not be sustainable for a long playoff-run, but it seems likely less likely that Toronto will upgrade either position at the deadline.

Instead, the focus is solely on the defensive-core.

Jake Muzzin’s injury has put a damper on the top-six, but the recent addition of Ilya Lyubushkin has been helped ease the pain. Even without Muzzin in the line-up (and who knows when he returns), it feels like Travis Dermott and/or Justin Holl are on their way out.

Who Are the Toronto Maple Leafs Going to Get?

Both Justin Holl and Travis Dermott have had a lengthy career in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. For the past seven seasons, both have gone from high-end prospects winning a Calder Cup with the Toronto Marlies to legitimate NHL defensemen.

However, both players need a new fit.

They’ve been getting passed in the depth chart by Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, and as such, the Leafs should deal both Holl and Dermott while they still have good trade value.

As the Leafs look to send a few current defenseman away, there are three players who they’ll more than likely acquire in return:

  • Mark Giordano
  • Justin Braun
  • Jacob Middleton

The Giordano reports make sense, but it only happens if Muzzin doesn’t return until the playoffs. Based on his cap-hit, the Leafs would have a really hard time fitting him into the line-up, without giving up a few current roster spots.

The 38-year-old is an ideal candidate in Toronto’s top-six, because he’s a veteran defenseman that can provide offense, but will also be defensively responsible. He’s also from Toronto and wants to play here, so that would help the motivation as he tries to win his first career Stanley Cup.

If Toronto thinks Muzzin is returning and wants to upgrade their second-pairing on the right-side with a little size and experience, then Braun is their guy.

With 100 games of NHL playoff experience, Braun can be your typical defensive-defenseman, who will be an upgrade over Justin Holl.

Last but not least, is Jacob Middleton.

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, the asking price for Middleton is the following: “A second-round pick, plus another pick or a prospect in that package.” (via: tsn.ca)

That feels like a lot, but he’s only 26-years-old, makes the league-minimum and is a pending RFA, so the Leafs would have control on him. He barely has any NHL experience, but he’s having a great season this year and would be a good fit on the left-side.

Based on his contract alone, he could be a very valuable addition to the Leafs because Toronto wouldn’t have to give up anyone off their roster to acquire him.

Even if Jake Muzzin comes back from injury soon, Middleton could fit the team’s salary cap needs and be a great addition to the blue-line.

Next. The Pessimistic vs Optimistic Leafs Fan. dark

At this point, I’d put my money on Middleton to be the player that Toronto acquires before Monday’s trade deadline. At 6-foot-3, 210 pounds, he has the size, but most importantly has a team-friendly contract with team-control that management loves trading for.