Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Down at the 2024 NHL Entry Draft?

2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7
2023 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 / John Russell/GettyImages
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Should Brad Treliving Trade Down?

A popular narrative surrounding Kyle Dubas’ tenure as GM with the Toronto Maple Leafs was that he loved “trading down” in the draft.

Dubas did this a few times, trading  the 24th pick (Travis Konecny) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft to take Travis Dermott (34th) and Jeremy Bracco (61st).

He also did this in 2018, trading back from 25 (Dominik Bokk) to take Rasmus Sandin and Semyon Der-Arguchintsev. As well, trading the 25th pick in 2022 (Sam Rinzel) along with Petr Mrazek to take Fraser Minten. 

As you can see, it can be used in different ways like with the 2022 pick being utilized to dump a bad contract in Mrazek. It also works well sometimes like in 2018 and not so well other times like in 2015. 

Brad Treliving has also done this numerous times. Most recently with the Flames, he did this in 2021. Although on a smaller scale, he traded down from the 84th pick and acquired the 89th and 168th pick. 

He also did this in 2020. The Flames originally held the 19th overall pick but traded that for the 22nd and 72nd overall picks and then flipped the 22nd pick for the 24th and 80th overall picks. So, he started off with the 19th pick and ended up turning that into the 24th, 72nd, and 80th picks. 

In this trade, he turned the pick that became Braden Schneider into rookie standout Connor Zary, prospect Jake Boltmann, and prospect Jeremie Poirier.

Although Schneider made the NHL in his DY+2 season, his underlying statistics and usage show him as more of a 3rd pairing defender at this time. On the other hand, Zary is currently a 3rd line center while Poirier is knocking on the door as a potential bottom-pair defender as early as next year.

The potential of these players at this time lean towards the pair of Flames with Zary looking like a potential middle-six pivot down the line and Poirier a bottom-four defender with Schneider looking like he could become a second pair guy. 

This could be one way that Treliving could make up the lack of draft capital. He can trade from 23rd once or twice to pick up an additional pick or two. Typically, the value difference between the 23rd and 32nd pick is minimal, meaning that if he can add an additional top-90 pick or two, it could be worthwhile. 

There are a number of combinations to make this trade work and it is of course dependent on the teams involved and the picks they have available. For the purposes of finding a team I have a few comparable trades to work from. 

The first being Treliving’s own trade of the 22nd pick for the 24th and 80th. As well, in 2018 the Senators traded the 22nd overall pick for the 26th and 48th. The next is in 2015 when the Leafs traded the 24th pick for 29th and 61st picks.