The very thought of the Maple Leafs trading away their most talented player and new face of the organization is crazy if not down right absurd. However that was the exact premise that was put forward in one of the latest ESPN articles: The case for trading Auston Matthews .
Just the rumor of this happening would send the entire fan base with pitch forks and torches in hand right to the Maple Leafs’ front office doors. I know, as I would be leading the charge!
The whole premise of this article is based around the 1992 trade of Eric Lindros to the Philadelphia Flyers which netted the Quebec Nordiques Peter Forsberg, Steve Duchesne, Mike Ricci, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Kerry Huffman, two first-round picks which later turned into Jocelyn Thibault and Nolan Baumgartner and $15 million.
But who in today’s NHL, with competition being so fierce would cripple its roster for one player for years to come? Matthews is in a class just below Connor McDavid some would argue, so the asking price to complete such a trade would be through the roof, what current team has enough assets to complete such a trade and still remain competitive?
For an organization to be competitive in today’s NHL, it needs depth all through the line-up and in its system, so giving up a good portion of your roster isn’t in the cards for today ‘s NHL teams.
The NHL landscape in 1992 and today’s NHL are vastly different. Much has evolved in NHL in the way of player/asset management, analytics, and finally the introduction of the salary cap which have drastically changed how organizations are managed and how trades can be completed.
Another of the reasons the writer uses to sell this trade is that the Maple Leafs could land their covenant top 2 defense-man that they currently don’t have. Where the article fails to mention is that Travis Dermott and Timothy Liljegren are in the pipeline. In the case of Dermott, his two-game audition before the league mandated bye week showed promise and most expect that he will be called back up when the Maple Leafs resume play this week.
The Maple Leafs also have Nikita Zaitsev returning in a couple of weeks, and the addition of Dermott into a top 4 defensive role and Andreas Borgman continued excellent play, the defense should start to take shape. That could also spell the end for Roman Polak who has struggled as of late and Connor Carrick who hasn’t been able to earn a permanent place on coach Mike Babcock’s blue-line.
There are a few other arguments made by the article, but none that would sway the Maple Leafs’ front office to make such a controversial trade. GM Lamoriello and Co. have consistently showed great patience in the planning and execution of their plan more popularly known as the “ShanaPlan”. This feels more like a panic move when some shuffling of the roster, possibly not resigning some of the players on expiring contracts, and the salary cap going up would make signing Matthews not an issue.
I predict that with the up-coming trade deadline that the Maple Leafs will do what they can to boaster the team as it heads into the playoffs again this season. But no, Auston Matthews isn’t going to be involved in any of them.