Questions regarding what move will be made next by Toronto GM Kyle Dubas have become increasingly more intriguing as the trade deadline inches closer. Dubas is nearly a month removed from his last deal that saw Toronto acquire defenceman Jake Muzzin from the L.A Kings in exchange for a fringe player, Carl Grundstrom and a couple draft picks. This move essentially told the rest of the league that Dubas and the Maple Leafs are going for it.
This was a pleasant surprise considering this may be the first time Toronto is to contest for the cup since 1993. Toronto has played good hockey over the course of the year, and the addition of Muzzin surely bolstered their back end helping them play “heavier” hockey, but is that enough?
Obviously, Toronto has some areas they would love to fine tune as the playoffs near, as does every team contending for the Stanely Cup would, but the price for a rental has skyrocketed as desperate teams have climbed to great lengths to get deals done in order to improve their roster.
This is fine for the rest of the NHL, but in Toronto’s case, it may be overdone. In order for Toronto to acquire anything worth their while, they would ultimately have to part ways with promising developing players from the Marlies, or pending RFA’s like Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen. This is not something that Leaf fans would like to see, as they look to be building for the long term and not one playoff push.
Toronto ‘s current roster gives them a cup window that stretches longer than just one year. This means the time to win isn’t necessarily now or never. In saying this, winning is the ultimate goal (obviously), but putting all your eggs into one basket is just as risky as spreading them out in this particular case. Toronto has the ability to make a big move, that could see them acquire a player like Wayne Simmonds who would help their lineup immensely. He is everything Toronto has been begging for, a physical, scoring winger.
Assuming Philadelphia decide to move Simmonds and not keep him for their own personal rental, Toronto would have to pay top dollar. Following the Matt Duchene trade, which saw Ottawa acquire two prospects and two first round picks (one conditional), I assume a deal for Simmonds would be anywhere in that ballpark. Personally, that price is too rich for my blood, especially considering Simmonds is a UFA at the end of the season and Toronto would have no way of signing him back.
Toronto certainly has the pieces to make a deep cup run without having to acquire any big name players at the deadline. With the Leafs already having $29 million locked up between Tavares, Matthews, and Nylander for next season and Marner’s contract still lurking in the near future, they have the kind of depth, speed, and talent needed to make a deep push without overpaying for a rental.
A trade won’t change the fact that Toronto still has to rely heavily on their top four players. A trade would certainly make Toronto better and probably a little tougher to face down the stretch but ultimately this playoff run comes down to how bad the players want to win. They have more than enough stars to win hockey games.