The Toronto Auston Matthews, wait sorry Maple Leafs. I be that joke has been said about 10000 times so far this year, mainly because it is true. Auston Matthews is part of the youth movement in the NHL. He and McDavid lead a group of talented youngsters like like to not only score a lot of goals nut also play a full two-way game. Here is Matthews just two years ago:
Toronto youth movement isn’t just led by Matthews (age 19), it is also led by William Nylander (20), Mitch Marner (19), Morgan Rielly (22) and Matt Hunwick, nah just kidding.
Toronto most likely is going to stand pat at the deadline since they are currently working on a rebuild and if not for being in one of the weakest divisions in the league would not be sniffing the playoffs right now, in a couple years they will most likely be Stanley Cup favorites though so get your futures bets in now. Buyers and Sellers
In case they do decide to make a move lets check out their Draft Assets:
2017: 1st-7th plus two additional 2nd round picks (SJ and OTT)
2018: 1st, 2nd 4th-7th, with additional picks in the 2nd (SJ), 3rd (SJ), 6th (Ari) and 7th (ANA)
Up front Toronto is pretty set going forward, besides the youth mentioned above (Rielly is a defenseman) they have James Van Riemsdyk (JVR) and Nazem Kadri both playing well.
They also have Tyler Bozak who, along with JVR, could become a trade casualty. Both Bozak and JVR have one year left on their deal after this season and with the youth movement already well underway in Toronto could be movable assets.
Return for JVR is going to cost a puck moving defenseman which Toronto desperately needs.
“When the trade deadline passes and you still get to play with Auston Matthew”
On the backend Toronto has young stud Morgan Rielly and… well… thats about it.
Jake Gardiner, Roman Polak, and Matt Hunwick are nothing to write home about. I may get some flak for saying Gardiner isnt the best but at a top pairing defenseman there is a lot missing. He moves the puck well and can put the puck in the net on occasion but if Toronto really wants to upgrade their d-core they need to make a move. This is where JVR comes in. Signed for only the rest of this year and next year at a 4.25MM cap hit JVR is an ideal trade candidate, especially with Toronto both rebuilding and contending. Getting a top 2 or top 4 defenseman (probably will only get top 4 based on the market right now) will help stabilize the back end.
In Goal is Frederik Andersen formerly of Anaheim. I am a big fan and think he can be a top 10 goalie in the league, as does Toronto exhibited by the contract recently given to him. No moves necessary from this standpoint.
2017 is not the year for the Maple Leafs and I think they know that. They play with speed but sometimes make way too many mistakes losing them games. Really the only moves that they should make are selling some replaceable assets for future draft picks or trading JVR for a young defenseman, maybe from Carolina or Anaheim (who are both flush with derfensemen).
I think this year the leafs stay pat with maybe some minor moves and then in the offseason move JVR or try for a bigger trade. Leafs fans don’t want to move Nylander or Marner but if a top pairing D-man comes along maybe Lou pulls the trigger.
Trade Targets: Draft picks for UFAs, top pairing defenseman like Justin Faulk (CAR) or future stud Shea Theodore (ANA)