Now that the dust has settled on the NHL trade deadline we can now look back and reflect on what was a busy lead up with 43 trades in the two weeks leading into the deadline along with 21 trades on Friday as well. Let’s break down all the transactions.
In: Ryan O’Rielly, Noel Acciari, Josh Pillar, Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty, Erik Gustafsson, Luke Schenn, Radim Zahorna. 1st Rd Pick (2023 Bos), 3rd Rd Pick (2024), Conditional 5th Rd Pick (2024), Conditional 5th Rd Pick (2025).
Out: Rasmus Sandin, Pierre Engvall, Joey Anderson, Pavel Gogolev, Mikhail Abramov, Adam Guadette, Dryden Hunt. 1st Rd Pick (2023), Conditional 1st Rd Pick (2025), 2nd Rd Pick (2024), 2nd Rd Pick (2026), 3rd Rd Pick (2023), 3rd Rd Pick (2023), 4th Rd Pick (2025).
Kyle Dubas got an early start on business as he got the majority of his heavy lifting done prior to the deadline swinging the blockbluster with St Louis back on the 17th of February acquiring O’Rielly and Acciari. This opened the flood gates. Toronto added some legitimate championship pedigree and seasoned playoff experience with this trade. The Leafs strengthen their depth down the middle adding to centers that are great in the faceoff circle. Both bring sandpaper and the ability to find twine. The addition of both of these forwards create so many options for head coach Keefe to experiment with. Unfortunately O’Rielly was injured on Saturday in the loss to the Canucks, It was revealed on Monday he has a broken finger and has been placed on the LTIR and will miss the next 24 days. Prior to O’Rielly’s injury, He had fit in seemlessly. In the 9 games he had played in, he had 5 points (3 goals and 2 assist) He is a +1 rating and was 67.5% in the faceoff dot (stats courtesy of hockey-reference.com). Acciari has been solid as well. In his 9 games so far in the blue and white he has provided 8 blocked shots, 6 takeaways along with 30 hits along with chipping in a goal and has been 54.5% in the faceoff circle(stats courtesy of hockey-reference.com). Both players have lived up to the billing thus far.
Then Toronto followed that up with the McCabe/Lafferty acquistion just ten days later. With these two major deals being completed it addressed a multitude of needs for the club. It addressed a need for grit and more scoring. Also adding a top four defensemen that can fill the void left by Jake Muzzin at a bargain of 50% retained for the entirety of this season and the following two full seasons. Both McCabe and Lafferty have worked to settle into the lineup. McCabe has looked solid early on. Thus far in the four games since he’s laced up in he’s averaged 19:12 in ice time, had 5 blocked shots and 7 hits along with 19 penalty minutes. 17 of the 19 penalty minutes incurred were on Saturday night against Vancouver which also included a fighting major. Lafferty has averaged 13:00 in ice time so far in the four games he has suited up in. He has primarily been on the wing but has been shifted to center for his last game where he was 50% at the faceoff dot. But has had 3 blocked shots along with 2 hits while mainly in a fourth line role.
The very next day as the hockey world was digesting this transaction. Maple Leafs management was back to work and swung three more deals to end the month of February. The first deal of the day saw the team part with a young potential star in the making, Rasmus Sandin who seemed to be on the outs with the club. In return the Maple Leafs added to their defensive depth acquiring Erik Gustafsson a veteran defensemen that brings offense and playoff experience to the backend. The masterful part of the deal was Dubas was able to recoup a first round pick for this years draft in the deal. It is Boston’s pick but given the depth of the draft the potential is still there to land a great young player. Parting with Rasmus Sandin was difficult but given the fact the Maple Leafs explored all options to find a spot for him including a failed experiment to try him on the right side coupled with the acquistion of McCabe along with already having the like of Morgan Rielly, Mark Giordano it made him expendable. Early on in Sandin’s tenure with Washington he has made the most of it notching 1 goal and 4 assists in 2 games.
Toronto followed that up with parting with polarizing forward Pierre Engvall. The 6’5 forward possesses the attributes that could make him a really player that could be tremendously difficult to play against. However it never really has translated. He is fast and sound defensively. He is a solid penalty killer but lacks finish in his game. Both offensively and phyiscally. He was shipped off to the Isles for a third round draft pick in 2024. The final trade of the day brought a lot of fanfare as Toronto shipped a third round pick to Vancouver to bring home Luke Schenn.
The reunion was something a large faction of Leafs Nation had been begging for and GM Kyle Dubas made it happen. Schenn brings a hard nosed, hard hitting, championship pedigree to the backend. This time around Schenn will not be asked to be the Savior as was expected when he was drafted fifth overall in 2008 by Toronto. So far he has settled in nicely. In the 2 games he’s appeared in he has 2 blocked shots, 1 takeaway along with 7 hits while averaging 11:26 in ice time.
After the flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline the club was still active on the phones but only pulled one deal off trading Dryden Hunt to Calgary for Radim Zahorna. This is an AHL deal. Hunt was acquired by the Leafs early in the season from Colorado for Denis Malgin. Zahorna has 29 points in 40 games in the AHL this season. He brings size at six foot six and 220lbs. This for all purposes is an AHL move.
When it is all said and done Toronto addressed their needs and brought in some quality talent. They’ve transformed this roster into a very diffcult team to play against. The depth on the backend provides many options to deploy. They have built this team to compete with Tampa and Boston in the East. Even with the unfortunate timing of the O’Rielly injury this team is built to withstand the loss in the intern. Management has done everything they can to augment this roster to succeed it is now time for the coaching staff and players to do their part to exercise the demons and advance beyond the first round of the playoffs.