The Toronto Maple Leafs would have one of the AHL’s top point producers if they hadn’t traded him away.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were shortsighted in their view of the path they needed to take to win the Stanley Cup in 2023.
As we watched the team get eliminated from the playoffs, we learned that their plan didn’t work out.
Now we know that the actions taken last season have negatively impacted the organization this year.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Traded Away one of the AHL’s Top Scorers
On February 17, the Toronto Maple Leafs swung a massive deal to make all-star center Ryan O’Reilly a member of the Blue and White. He was the centerpiece of the three-team trade between the Leafs, St. Louis Blues, and Minnesota Wild.
O’Reilly was also accompanied by center Noel Acciari in the trade to Toronto. The Leafs appeared to misstep in putting together the package used to acquire those talents.
The most valuable part of the package the Leafs gave St. Louis was the 2023 first-round draft pick. The Blues used that selection on Otto Stenberg who is currently playing in the Swedish Hockey League.
It’s too early to tell how that will work out. The Leafs also gave up a third-round pick in 2023 and and upcoming second-round pick in 2024 that helped the Blues agree to move their captain to Toronto.
The trade didn’t end there. There were also a pair of players who ended up in St. Louis as a result of that massive deal. They are Mikhail Abramov and Adam Gaudette. Abramov began this season with the Blues’ AHL farm team, the Springfield Thunderbirds, recording nine goals in 16 games on three goals and six assists. Those are fine numbers, but they’re nothing compared to what Gaudette is doing.
Gaudette, a 27-year-old forward, also plays for the Thunderbirds. Selected in the fifth round (149th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, he has had played in 218 NHL games over seven seasons. His production hasn’t been awful at the game’s highest level, collecting 70 points on 27 goals and 43 assists.
This year in Springfield, Massachusetts, the Braintree, Massachusetts native has been tearing up the AHL. For multiple weeks, he was the league’s leading scorer. According to AHL statistics, in his first 21 games, Gaudette recorded 13 goals and nine assists. Those 22 points are good enough to be the fourth-leading scorer. He’s also the second-leading goal getter, just one goal behind the Texas Stars’ Logan Stankoven’s total.
The 6’1″, 194 lbs right-shooting forward is generating offense at a greater rate than he ever has in his professional career. The Toronto Marlies did see him put together 20 goals and 14 assists in the 40 contests he played with the organization. They knew he was capable of doing producing but there wasn’t any indication that Gaudette was just going to keep elevating his game in this manner.
With the Marlies chasing a Calder Cup, having Gaudette on their squad this seaon would have been very helpful. His presence would have made the team offense even more dangerous. He may have even been a temporary option for the Maple Leafs to use to fill a roster spot when injuries forced regulars out of the lineup.
Does this mean that the Toronto Maple Leafs regret the trade for O’Reilly? It’s possible since the group didn’t ultimately get past the second round of the playoffs and O’Reilly left Toronto in the offseason. However, if the opportunity existed to make the exact same trade again, there’s no doubt that Leafs brass would absolutely be willing to sacrifice Gaudette.
Hopefully, Gaudette is able to able to continue playing at this level and manages to find his way into more NHL games. He’s a talented player who is making a name for himself in Springfield.
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