The 2023-24 Toronto Maple Leafs have been horrific defensively in the team’s first 17 games of the season, with the team currently in the bottom half of the league in goals against and goals against average, with many suggesting a trade adding to the team’s defense being the answer for their tough play.
Despite Ilya Samsonov being nothing short of awful as well, sporting a 3.56 GAA while being pulled twice for poor play, it’s hard to blame all of their issues on him as the Toronto Maple Leafs as a whole has been lackluster definitely in every statistical category.
With that being the narrative, Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov has been linked to the Toronto Maple Leafs after requesting a trade out of a city he’s spent the last three seasons playing in.
Ideally but not likely, Zadorov comes to the Maple Leafs on a cheap deal and the team adds a player who plays more like he did last year than this season, where he scored 14 goals without missing a game.
Here’s Why a Nikita Zadorov Trade Does Nothing for the Toronto Maple Leafs
If hypothetically the Leafs could get Zadorov on the cheap, yes, I would entertain the deal but since it’s been over a week since the trade request was made, it doesn’t seem likely the deal will cost anything.
If the Maple Leafs make Zadorov a priority and spend a decent amount on the player, where would that leave them defensively?
It’s inarguable that the team needs more than just one addition unless that addition is the caliber of a Victor Hedman or Cale Makar, and who in the league is willing to give up players of that caliber?
If Brad Treliving is looking to get the Flames to add another player like Mackenzie Weagar or Chris Tanev, then maybe it’s worth a look but overall, is it worth it to add players who will make minimal impact or on bad contracts?
Weagar’s deal doesn’t expire until 2031 at $6.25 million, despite being very good for the Flames since being acquired from the Florida Panthers, and Tanev makes $4.25 million for this year.
The Toronto Maple Leaf’s biggest issue has always been their inability to acquire top tier D-man who can play big minutes and Zadorov is not that.
As far as salary goes, Zadorov is only on the books for this season at $3.75 million AAV, meaning he’d be a rental unless the team finds a way to get him on a short-term deal. If it were up to me, the Leafs would do everything they can to find a player who can eat top-tier D-man minutes at a big price. The reason is they’ve already tried adding depth pieces to their backend and it’s never worked in the long term.
If the team is serious about contending during the primes of three of the league’s best players Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, and William Nylander, then maybe the direction should be looking for a true upgrade on the backend, not a short-term upgrade.