3 reasons why trading for Chris Tanev makes sense for the Maple Leafs

It’s no secret that the Toronto Maple Leafs need some help defensively if they hope to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup this spring.

Feb 8, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (8) passes the puck
Feb 8, 2024; Newark, New Jersey, USA; Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev (8) passes the puck / John Jones-USA TODAY Sports
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Chris Tanev is an affordable asset for the Maple Leafs

While Chris Tanev’s 2023-24 salary of $4.5 million looks rather imposing and hard to come by for the Maple Leafs, he’s also in the final year of his deal. Since he’s an older player, there is no way Tanev would demand such a high salary following the 2023-24 season, so not only is he still an effective player, he can also be more than a rental for Toronto. 

For the trade itself to work, Calgary currently has enough cap space to retain up to 50 percent of Tanev’s remaining contract with more than enough room to spare. Toronto could also offset this by sending over a couple of draft picks, either a pair of mid-rounders for this season and next season, or even a first if they see enough value in Tanev. 

But this would still put them roughly $1 million over the cap, so they could also get rid of some underperformers in the final year of their deal. Players like William Lagesson and Bobby McMann would work well here. 

Neither has much of a future in Toronto, and that may also be the case with Calgary, but the Flames could opt not to re-sign them following the 2023-24 season. To complete the trade, the Maple Leafs can also send one high-end and one middle-of-the-road prospect to Calgary; then if they believe Tanev is a good fit, they would almost certainly re-sign him to a reduced rate next season on a bridge deal.

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(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference as of February 13th)