The Toronto Maple Leafs Improved at Trade Deadline

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 8: Colin Blackwell #43 of the Seattle Kraken skates against Ilya Lyubushkin #46 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on March 8, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - MARCH 8: Colin Blackwell #43 of the Seattle Kraken skates against Ilya Lyubushkin #46 of the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena on March 8, 2022 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Now that the NHL trade deadline has come and gone, it is time for a full breakdown of everything the Toronto Maple Leafs did. Toronto GM Kyle Dubas did not make a lot of moves, but with the few trades he did make, he improved his team.

The improvements to this year’s team started back on February 19th when Dubas traded forward Nick Ritchie to the Arizona Coyotes for defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin. That trade allowed the Maple Leafs to rid themselves of the rarely used Ritchie and his $2.5 million cap hit for two seasons.

Lyubushkin gives Toronto something they were lacking, a big physical defensive defenseman. The player known as “the Russian bear” has 43 hits in 13 games since joining the Maple Leafs. His hitting and his ability to clear opposing players away from the front of Toronto’s net is a big plus for this team. Lyubushkin will be an important part of this team in the playoffs.

As much as Lyubushkin has helped the team, more upgrades were needed. As the NHL trade deadline got closer and closer, there was tons of speculation as to which players Dubas was going to target. Here is what Toronto was able to add before the NHL trade deadline.

Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Deadline Additions

On Sunday, March 20th, one day before the trade deadline, the Toronto Maple Leafs traded three draft picks to the Seattle Kraken for defenseman Mark Giordano and forward Colin Blackwell. The draft picks in this trade are a 2022 2nd round pick, a 2023 2nd round pick, and a 2024 3rd round pick. The Kraken also retained 50% of Giordano’s salary cap.

Giordano gives the Leafs an experienced defenseman who can still play over 20 minutes a game. The Maple Leafs could start the playoffs with a defense that includes Morgan Riley, T.J. Brodie, Giordano, Muzzin, and two of Rasmus Sandin, Lyubushkin, Justin Holl and Timothy Liljegren. It can be considered the best defense group Toronto has had in the Auston Matthews era.

Colin Blackwell is considered to be a spark plug. He plays with a lot of energy, and although he is only 5’9″, he is a solid 190 pounds. He has a great center of gravity and is not afraid to play a physical style. Blackwell has 57 hits this season in 39 games and has 155 hits in 119 career NHL games. He could be the spark that Toronto’s bottom six needed.

Toronto also added a 2022 3rd round pick by trading defenseman Travis Dermott to the Vancouver Canucks. The trade made room for adding Giordano and Blackwell. It also gives Toronto a draft pick for the 3rd round, which they did not have for the 2022 NHL draft. The draft pick was originally Winnipeg’s 3rd round pick.

Next. Leafs Probability of Facing Different Opponents. dark

If the Toronto Maple Leafs can enter the 2022 NHL playoffs with a fully healthy team, it will be a well-stacked team. They have all the right ingredients to be successful. Toronto has the right mix of offensive and defensive players. I think this is the best defense group Toronto has had in the Auston Matthews era. If you put all of that together and add a healthy Jack Campbell that can return to early-season form, they have just as much of a chance to win as anyone else.