How did the NHL trade deadline help the Maple Leafs?

The Toronto Maple Leafs didn’t make any huge moves at the NHL trade deadline, but they still got help in their defensive rotation.

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins
Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages
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The Toronto Maple Leafs made four moves at the NHL trade deadline, three for defensemen and one for a defensive forward. Let’s start with a familiar face in Ilya Lyubushkin, whose simple, hard-hitting game is a good match for a team that is among the most physical in hockey. Lyubushkin, acquired along with signing rights to Kirill Slepets for a 2025 third-rounder and a 2024 sixth-rounder, has done more than just hit opponents. 

His 138 blocks through 55 games with the Anaheim Ducks are an eye-popping 34 more than what he logged all of last season with the Buffalo Sabres through 68 contests. So far, Lyubushkin has seen the ice with Toronto in four games, logging 13 hits, four blocks, and even an assist. If he doesn’t struggle with injuries down the stretch, look for him to keep playing a solid brand of hockey in Toronto.

Will Joel Edmundson turn out to be a better-than-advertised move?

Acquired for a 2024 third-rounder and a 2025 fifth-rounder, Joel Edmundson’s game hasn’t been as strong this season and he also hasn’t been completely healthy, but that shouldn’t deter Maple Leafs fans from seeing value here. The Edmundson trade is one of those moves that could surprisingly give Toronto some help in both zones, and no, that is not a typo.

Check out his Corsi For a 5-on-5 when he was with the Montreal Canadiens in the 2020-21 season, and it was surprisingly positive. This year’s version of the Maple Leafs is once again a high-scoring team - and much more efficient offensively than that 2021 Montreal team, so there could be more than just a “stay-at-home” defenseman that most know Edmundson for, playing alongside one of the most high-octane units in hockey. 

Regardless of whether Edmundson surprises us here in more than just the defensive zone, if he regains his consistency in blocking would-be shooting lanes (2.44 blocks/game in 2022-23), then Toronto’s goaltending will be much better off. 

Maple Leafs did nothing fancy at the NHL trade deadline, but they got help

Toronto also acquired Cade Webber from the Carolina Hurricanes for a sixth-rounder in 2026 in a more under-the-radar move. He is in his fourth season at Boston University and won’t be joining Toronto any time during their current playoff run or perhaps even in the next few seasons. 

However, Connor Dewar will, and like Lyubushkin and Edmundson, the winger will add quite a bit of value to the lower lines that only cost a fourth-rounder in 2026 and Dmitry Ovchinnikov. He’s a hard-hitter who, perhaps along with Edmundson, should help salvage what has been a not-so-good penalty kill in Ontario. 

Overall, the Maple Leafs didn’t make a flashy, blockbuster trade that many fans naturally want to see. The Lyubushkin, Edmundson, and Dewar acquisitions may be underwhelming on paper, but the two blueliners will improve Toronto’s bottom-pairing and lead to a few more wins if the duo can consistently get in the way of shooting lanes. 

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference, trade information provided by Cap-Friendly)