Toronto Maple Leafs Navigate Low-Risk High-Reward Trade Deadline

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 8: Mark Giordano #5 of the Seattle Kraken skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 8, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Kraken 6-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 8: Mark Giordano #5 of the Seattle Kraken skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on March 8, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Maple Leafs defeated the Kraken 6-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to make their team significantly better at the NHL Trade Deadline- barring a statistically unlikely uptick in performance from a 38 year old.

On the other hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs already had arguably the NHL’s best roster, and the GM gave his team a decent shot at winning while maintaining his goal of building a sustainable, annually competitive team.

It would be very easy to sit here and say the Leafs failed because they didn’t add the star player that I thought would put them over the top, but they improved their team – basically at no risk – while none of their competitors got significantly better.

Giordano is a win for the Leafs because the risk vs reward is so clearly in their favor. He at least has a chance to be a star player, and even if he isn’t, he certainly won’t make them worse.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Mark Giordano

I called the rumour that the Leafs would add the 37 year old Giordano “lame” and I did not expect them to act on it.  From my perspective, an old, washed up defender who shoots left and would be prohibitively expensive just was not what the team needed. Not only that, but he would take minutes from Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, the two most effective defenseman for the Leafs this year.

The low cost, the Sandin injury,  and the Leafs belief that he is not the defensive equivalent of adding Jason Spezza has reassured me and made me at least optimistic that it could work out.

I also like the addition of Colin Blackwell, because he seems to me to be a very solid NHL player who can play anywhere in the lineup.  With depth like Ondrej Kase, Pierre Engvall, Ilya Mikheyev, Nick Robertson and Blackwell, the Leafs are the deepest team in hockey at forward, by an incredible gap over the next best team.

Any time a team brings in a name-brand veteran and sits out a younger, more talented player they are falling into the trap of acting safe and following tradition and there is a huge risk they are accidently making their team worse, but I don’t think that is the case here because Gio is a lefty and Sandin is hurt, while Muzzin is a question mark.

The Leafs competitors all failed to get better, except for Florida who also undercut the addition of Giroux with Ben Chiarot, who makes them worse.  The NHL Trade Deadline was ultimately a bust.  There were lots of trades, but Giroux was the only star player anyone added.

The Bruins paid an incredibly stupid price for a player who’d be the Toronto Maple Leafs 4th best left-side defender, while Colorado added only marginal players.  Carolina added Max Domi who makes them worse, but at least Tony DeAngelo will have a friend to hang out with.

In conclusion, I think the Leafs have done well because the cost vs reward is really in their favor here – there’s no risk to the Giordano trade, and the reward could potentially be that they added a #1 defenseman to their lineup at the cost of peanuts.

So in the end, while I would have liked them to take a bigger swing, they added a player with upside at a low cost, and that’s hard to complain about.

Next. Leafs Top 10 Prospects. dark

The only real complaint people have is that they didn’t add a goalie, but goalies are too unpredictable to bother with and they were smart to ignore it.  The Leafs are a better team than they were last week, and they were already likely the NHL’s best team.