2. Bowen Byram
The Colorado Avalanche have a great blue-line and a mediocre group of forwards after their two superstars.
Theoretically, at least, they would be interested in replacing Gabriel Landeskog’s presence among their forwards.
This is why, this past summer, I thought a Nylander for Byram trade would be great for both teams.
Even though Nylander is playing great, I really don’t think he’s playing that much better than usual, and even if he is, it’s likely not sustainable for him to be a top-of-the-NHL scorer.
As hard as it is to walk away from players at their peak, it’s also the best time to trade them.
It’s hard to see Nylander ever having more value, and it’s hard to see a better player in the NHL to trade him for besides Byramm, who seems extremely likely to be a number-one defenseman eventually.
Now of course this all depends on Byram’s health, as he has a history of injury. I would leave it up to the Leafs doctors to decide if this is a smart move, but assuming that he’s not any more prone to a career ending injury than anyone else, it’s a move I’d explore if I was running the Toronto Maple Leafs. (You can enter the joke about how you’re glad I’m not here ______).
The 22 year old former 4th overall player is currently putting up solid numbers on the Avalanche, posting a 54% Expected Goals Percentage, while being paired with Samuel Girard on the Av’s second pairing.
His 24 points in a half season last year suggest an elite scorer, and he can hit, defend and, most importantly, is still young enough to get better.
A 22 year-old as good as Byram is about the exact thing the Toronto Maple Leafs need. With Morgan Rielly already in the fold he wouldn’t have to play on the top pairing just yet, and he’d be a massive improvement over McCabe.
Health permitting, a Nylander for Byram swap makes sense for both teams. It’s risky, but great rewards require risk.
The upside of having a 22 year old, potentially elite, much cheaper, five-years-younger player who plays a premium position and who would save the team a fortune, and the fact that you could acquire him by trading a strength for a weakness makes this at least worth exploring.