The upcoming NHL trade deadline is unlike one that we have seen in years past and yes, it’s because of Covid. With quarantine restrictions, Canadian teams were hesitant to trade with teams outside the North division due to quarantine laws. But just last week, the required quarantine time was shortened from 14 days to just 7 which will likely result in the trade market starting to heat up.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of those teams who always have a leg in the race with every key free agent target on the market and this year is no different. We have heard the Leafs linked with pretty much every big name such as Taylor Hall, Filip Forsberg, Rickard Rakell, and many more but the real question is, what should the team do?
Adding another star player ahead of the playoffs is great in theory however, cap space is limited, especially in the flat-cap era. The Leafs will likely focus on adding offensive depth as well as another goaltender instead of trading the farm for one year of a struggling star.
It’s been speculated that the Leafs are looking for another goalie. They have made calls around the league including one to the L.A. Kings for veteran Johnathan Quick. While a trade involving Quick is not likely for the Leafs, they still could look to pursue a goaltender. Frederick Andersen has not been at his best this season and while Jack Campbell is emerging as a potential future starter goaltender for the Leafs, they may look to add another reliable veteran presence in the crease with experience and skill. One such veteran with a history with the team is Johnathan Bernier. He has been great with a struggling Detroit Red Wings squad and could add the depth and experience that the leafs are looking for in a limited role with the team. The team could also look at aging goaltenders such as Pekka Rinne and Ryan Miller, or even try and make a notable trade with the Arizona Coyotes for Antti Raanta.
Toronto is also believed to have interest in acquiring both a top-6 winger as well as some bottom-6 depth. Starting with the latter, There are some very interesting and cheap options that the Leafs may consider. Current third line centre Alexander Kerfoot and his $3.5M cap hit could be out the door at the trade deadline opening some doors for a new addition. One such option is Luke Glendening. Glendening has been linked to Toronto in previous years but this could finally be the season in which he ships out from Detroit. Glendening is one of the top face-off men in the NHL this season and would be a significant upgrade on the third line as Kerfoot has been struggling in this role in the face-off dot this season.
Bobby Ryan is also another solid option for the leafs. He is an inexpensive player who has made the most out of his role with the Detroit Red Wings this season. He adds scoring depth and has been making an effort to get his career back on track. With Eric Staal shipped to the Habs, the Leafs will want to act quickly on adding depth to the roster. FInding a top-6 forward will be a priority for the team, but with the high asking prices and the limited cap space available, sticking with the core group they have could be the right option.
The Leafs have looked quite strong this season. The addition of the veterans to their lineup have helped change the culture in the locker room. Adding more experience and depth will surely be atop the teams wishlist, but sacrificing the farm for a star winger who they likely would not be able to re-sign, may not be the right idea.
With Freddy and Campbell between the pipes, finding another starting calibre goaltender will not be easy if the team plans on keeping them both, but will be on Kyle Dubas’ wish list.