Analysis of theToronto Maple Leafs Ilya Lyubushkin Trade

Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game One
Tampa Bay Lightning v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game One / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin from the Anaheim Ducks as part of a three-team trade that also uses the Carolina Hurricanes to retain salary. The team also acquired the rights to Hurricanes' prospect Kirill Slepets.

The Ducks will retain 50% of Lyubushkin's contract in exchange for the Toronto Maple Leafs 2025 third round selection.

The Hurricanes will receive the Leafs' 2024 sixth round selection to retain a further 50% for a total of 75% retention.

This turns Lyubushkin’s $2.75 million caphit into $687,500 for the Leafs, which is less than the league minimum.

Analysis of theToronto Maple Leafs Ilya Lyubushkin Trade

Lyubushkin is 29-years-old and listed as 6-2 200lbs.

He has played 55 games for Anaheim this season, recording four assists and averaging 17:09 of ice-time per game. The Russian defender returns to the Maple Leafs after being acquired in 2021-22 from the Arizona Coyotes.

He played a total of 38 games that season, registering seven points (two goals, five assists) between the regular season and playoffs, before signing with the Buffalo Sabres in free agency on a two-year contract worth $2.75 million per season. After playing one season in Buffalo, he was dealt from the Sabres to the Ducks this past off-season for a fourth round pick in 2025.

Slepets, is a 24-year-old prospect that plays both wings and is listed as 5-10 165 lbs. He is currently playing in the KHL with Amur Khabarovsk.

He was drafted by the Hurricanes in the fifth round, 152nd overall in 2019. He has played a total of 127 games in the KHL scoring 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points. He has represented Russian internationally, winning Bronze at both the 2019 World Junior Championships and at the World U-18s in 2017. His contract with Amur expires on April 30th but he will likely remain overseas.

It is not entirely clear where Lyubsuhkin will play in the Leafs lineup. Going back to his first time as a Leaf in 2021-22, the Leafs mainly partnered him with Morgan Rielly on the top-pairing. This was a very flawed pairing and there is no way the Leafs should enter the playoffs with Lyubushkin in their top four or playing with Morgan Rielly.

Since he left Toronto, he has played on two struggling teams in the Sabres and Ducks, playing mainly third pair sheltered minutes and has not performed well at all. Out of 255 defensemen that have played over 500 minutes at 5v5, Lyubushkin ranks: 220th in xGF%, 193rd in GA/60, 172nd in CA/60, and 224th in xGA/60.

This means, as a stay-at-home defensive defenseman he gets scored on a lot and does not suppress shots from either a quality or quantity perspective. It doesn’t help that he is an offensive blackhole on top of his poor defensive performance. (All Contract information Via All Stats

Lyubushkin is not a difference maker to the Leafs lineup and surely not worthy of a third and sixth given the recent price for Chris Tanev and his abilities. However, if he is utilized as a number six or seven blueline depth piece, he should hopefully not hurt the team.


He brings physicality and size and fits a need as a right-handed defenseman, which could be beneficial in the right situation. On the bright side, at $687,500 his caphit is below league minimum and should leave space available to make a much bigger impact move.