One More Trade to Push the Toronto Maple Leafs Over the Top

Unexpected Upcoming Trade to Push the Toronto Maple Leafs Over the Top (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Unexpected Upcoming Trade to Push the Toronto Maple Leafs Over the Top (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a massive splash when they traded for center Ryan O’Reilly.

Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas and the team aren’t done. They can still acquire an unexpected target that will push them over the top.

Conventional wisdom says that after the organization has secured a pair of forwards in O’Reilly and Noel Acciari, that they would be done trying to build up front.

Keeping O’Reilly on the third line, gives the Maple Leafs more balance and makes them more dangerous. Adding a blue liner may seem like the trade deadline goal, but Dubas has a chance to really scare opposing goalies.

Toronto Maple Leafs Options

The Leafs have no shortage of centers but yet, adding just one more gives them an incredible edge. That is, if they could pry Nick Bjugstad away from the Arizona Coyotes.

This season, Bjugstad has skated 56 contests where he’s potted 13 goals and 10 helpers. He’s been quietly having an excellent campaign in the final year of his contract. It’s a deal that carries a very team friendly $900K cap hit. With the Leafs counting every cent to ensure they are cap compliant, a contract that falls below the $1M marker helps a great deal.

Not only does Bjugstad have the ability to add offense but he’s also bringing physicality to the ‘Yotes on a nightly basis. The 6′-6″, 209 lbs former first-rounder, would make a perfect playoffs rental. It would be ideal to have him throwing his big frame around for the Buds. This season, he has already landed 116 hits.

At 30-years-old, Bjugstad is in his 11th year in the NHL and has played for four different franchises. This season, he may be playing the best he ever has. It’s a big reason why his ice time is the highest it has ever been. Despite his career average time-on-ice of 14:42, this year Coyotes’ coach Andre Tourigny has Bjugstad out for an average of 16:57 minutes.

The ice time would surely drop with the Toronto Maple Leafs, but Bjugstad’s value wouldn’t. Adding the Minneapolis, Minnesota native would mean either the loss of an NHL player via trade or moving someone currently in the lineup to the press box. Currently, that looks like it would be Zach Aston-Reese.

This would give the Leafs some flexibility. They could have either Bjugstad or Acciari center a line and put the other on the right wing. Both these centers shoot left. The pair could play together and be joined by one of Alexander Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall, or David Kampf. All of whom shoot left. Ideally, Kampf would remain up the middle and Kerfoot and Engvall would be split.

Since Bjugstad’s cap hit is so small, the Leafs could cover it using the space remaining from LTIR. This would mean that if Dubas didn’t want to ship out any of his currently NHL players, he wouldn’t need to in order to get a deal done.

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Bjugstad would make things even more fun in Toronto for the fans but miserable for everyone else in the NHL. The NHL Trade deadline is Mar. 3 at 3 PM.