The Toronto Maple Leafs have, according to the fourthperiod, reportedly contacted the Philadelphia Flyers regarding defenseman Sean Walker.
With only 35 games remaining in the season for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it makes sense that they start looking to upgrade now instead of waiting until the NHL trade deadline. The Leafs defense has been a weak spot this season. As we get closer to the deadline, I'm sure Walker won't be the only defenseman whose name pops up in Leafs rumors.
According to Anthony Di Marco from thefourthperiod.com, the Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, and Tampa Bay Lightning are the top teams interested in Walker.
If Leafs general manager Brad Treliving thinks Walker is the right player to add, he'll need to make sure he outbids the Lightning. However, acquiring Walker will not be cheap. The Flyers are supposedly asking for a 1st round pick in return.
Are the Toronto Maple Leafs Interested in Trading for Flyers Defenseman?
While getting a 1st round pick is the ideal return for the Flyers, it sounds like they are also willing to accept a younger player with similar value as a 1st round pick. That might make a trade easier for Treliving and the Leafs, but it will depend on which player the Flyers are interested in. Speculation has already begun that it could be Fraser Minten or Easton Cowan. I don't think the Leafs would want to give up those prospects for a middle of the road player like Walker.
The Leafs still have their 2024 1st round pick but not their 2025 1st round pick. That pick was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks by previous GM Kyle Dubas to acquire Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty at last season's trade deadline. The Leafs must decide if Walker is worth one of their top prospects or their 2024 1st round pick.
Sean Walker is a 29-year-old right-shooting defenseman from Keswick, Ontario. He is averaging 19:36 in ice time with a 52.4% Corsi percentage. Walker has five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 50 games. He also has 69 blocked shots, 53 hits, and 23 takeaways compared to 19 giveaways.
Before the Leafs can add Walker, they need to figure out how to add his $2.65 million salary cap hit. There are a few options to explore, including other trades and sending some players down to the AHL to play for the Toronto Marlies. Walker is one of the cheaper rental options available from a salary cap standpoint.
I think Walker could be a fit for this Leafs team, but I'd hate to give up a top prospect for him unless he signs a contract extension. He could be a replacement for T.J. Brodie, who is an unrestricted free agent like Walker, but I don't believe Brodie will be returning next season. We will have to wait and see what Treliving and Leafs do. One thing is for certain, the Leafs need to bolster their defense.