Toronto Maple Leafs get through deadline without trading any assets

Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty images)
Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs were able to improve their roster at the NHL Trade Deadline this year and did so without trading any valuable assets. Sure, the team had to trade roster players like Pierre Engvall and Rasmus Sandin, but the prospects and draft picks they traded weren’t difference-makers to team success.

The Leafs traded away two first-round picks, Mikhail Abramov, Adam Gaudette, Joey Anderson, Dryden Hunt and Pavel Gogolev. All of those players and even draft picks are not NHL-ready, nor may ever be. The first-round picks are always worrisome because those have the most unknown, but Toronto acquired a first-round pick in the Sandin trade to offset the worry that they’d miss out on a high prospect they like at this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

You would think that a couple of low-end prospects and draft picks would only get you mid-level talent, but instead, the organization was able to acquire a Conn Smythe winner in Ryan O’Reilly, a top-four defenseman in Jake McCabe, two bottom-six wingers who can be productive in Sam Lafferty and Noel Acciari and two veteran defensemen in Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson.

Essentially, the team traded away a below-average forward in Engvall, whose game is awful in the playoffs and their seventh-best defenseman in Sandin for five players who can make a difference and one player who can provide some extra depth.

Toronto Maple Leafs add a lot without subtracting anything

When you look at the NHL Trade Deadline, the Leafs couldn’t really have done any better. Sure, someone like Timo Meier or Jakob Chychrun could have provided more offense for this roster, but that’s not really what they need. Instead, the team needed veteran talent who can hit and play tough in the playoffs.

They were sick and tired of being considered soft, and the trades they made make them a much harder and more physical team to play against in the playoffs. Skill can only get you so far in a seven-game series, so the Leafs finally addressed this issue and it should help them succeed this season.

However, the biggest thing that the Leafs did, was what they didn’t.

Matthew Knies, Topi Niemela and Nick Robertson are the team’s three best prospects and they didn’t have to move any of them to get better. I know that Robertson is injury-prone, but he should still be valued highly by the team and the fact they didn’t trade him is great for the future of this roster.

Keeping Knies and Niemela in the system is also so important for the future outlook of this roster. Knies could join the roster as early as this year’s playoffs, while Niemela is projected to be a top-four defenseman sooner than later.

Next. Leafs can win a Stanley Cup now. dark

Any executive can trade the farm and improve their roster but it takes a savvy general manager to make their team better without losing anything important.  Kudos to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ executive team, as this roster looks primed for a long playoff run this year.