Maple Leafs Lack of Patience Cost Them Star Left Winger

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have had trouble finding a consistent left-winger all sesaon long.

Outside of Michael Bunting, the Toronto Maple Leafs haven't had much luck finding left-wingers to play in their top-six. Players like Alex Kerfoot, Calle Jarnkrok, Nick Robertson, Pontus Holmberg, Matthew Knies, and Tyler Bertuzzi have all spent time auditioning for a role with the Leafs superstars.

The Leafs drafted a productive left winger in the 3rd round of the 2013 NHL draft but traded him away without knowing the type of player he'd turn into.

That player is Carter Verhaeghe, a star left-winger with the Florida Panthers. For those who don't remember, Verhaeghe, along with Taylor Beck, Matt Finn, Tom Nilsson, and Christopher Gibson, were traded to the New York Islanders for Michael Grabner in September 2015.

Maple Leafs Lack of Patience Cost Them Star Left Winger

Lou Lamoriello was the Leafs general manager at the time, and the move was made to shed the number of contracts the Leafs had. The Leafs were at the league limit of 50 contracts, so he traded five prospects for one active player. It didn't seem like a horrible deal at the time, but the Leafs could have benefitted from having Verhaeghe the past couple of seasons and this season.

Verhaeghe registered 42 goals and 31 assists for 73 points in 81 games last season. He has 23 goals and 21 assists for 44 points in 45 games this season. For his career, Verhaeghe has 116 goals and 105 assists for 221 points in 299 games over five seasons. Some may argue that if he had remained with the Leafs, he might not have developed into the same player. However, if the talent is there, which it clearly is, I think the Leafs would have seen it.
(Stats from

The 28-year-old Verhaeghe is in the 2nd year of a three-year deal worth $12.5 million. His annual salary cap hit is $4.166 million, which is cheaper than what the Leafs are paying Tyler Bertuzzi ($5.5 million).


Obviously, things happen for a reason, and trades are a part of the business, but how nice would it be to have Verhaeghe on the Leafs right now? He can definitely be described as the one who got away. Had the Leafs shown a bit more patience in 2015, they could have kept this top-six left winger in their organization.