Last week in Elliotte Friedman’s 30 Thoughts, he fired out a quote from an NHL executive that read “If Toronto acquires a right-hand shot defenceman who can make a good pass on the power play, go nuts”. Nobody really knows what it meant, including Friedman himself. Is this something related to the Stamkos rumour mill? Or is it just pointing out a need?
Regardless of the possible hidden codes here, it’s no secret the Leafs absolutely need to find a way to strengthen that right side. Actually, strengthen would be putting it lightly, they need to do something franchise-altering.
Here are five names that would make sense as targets for Toronto, and a couple of them have been out there in trade rumours to varying degrees.
We’re not talking a minor move here. The Leafs would have to stir up something substantial, potentially including NHL talent, prospects, and picks. Thankfully they’ve accumulated more pieces recently to help make something like this happen.
Toronto can go about addressing this need in a number of ways, and Shattenkirk represents going down the “sure thing” road. He’s a franchise cornerstone, an all-star, drives possession, and scores like crazy. But he’s 27-years-old and needs a new contract in the summer of 2017, so bringing him on board is a major commitment, not just because the assets required to get him, but the major cash he’ll require for the next 6-8 years.
Not going to lie, I’m totally torn on whether this would be a good move for the Leafs.
The Jets’ defenceman doesn’t seem particularly fond of staying in Winnipeg long-term, and is making it tough on the team to get him locked up as he goes to RFA. He isn’t as much of a known commodity as someone like Shattenkirk, obviously, but setting up your back end with two young guys like Trouba and Rielly as the key cogs of the future just feels right, doesn’t it?
Trouba’s name has been kicked around a fair bit as a potential mover due to his contract status, and if there’s any truth to the 2012 ninth overall pick being on the market, Toronto needs to be all over that. James van Riemsdyk for Jacob Trouba is a hypothetical trade that makes so much sense it hurts.
Vatanen hasn’t had his name specifically out
there in the trade rumour winds, but with the Ducks’ blue-line being a
strength, and their supposed quest to land a scorer, people have been
wondering if they’ll part with one of their good young defenders in the
next little while.
Vatanen is in the middle of another solid
season in terms of his offensive output, pouring in 30 points through 58
games, and he’ll command a huge raise as a restricted free agent
this summer. If Anaheim is pondering whether they can get by without him
and spend that money elsewhere, the Leafs should be on the phone to
check in on the asking price.
Again, like the others on this
list, you’re not getting this guy for spare parts. It would need to be a
substantial package from Toronto (or whoever), one that could include a
piece like van Riemsdyk or Kadri.
Severson is only in his second season as a pro, but it’s clear when you see him that he’s loaded with talent. His ice-time so far doesn’t scream top-four, but his underlying numbers do. For a 21-year-old his performance has been about as good as you can expect, and he projects as a top-two in regards to play-driving ability and goal production while he’s out there.
No doubt the Devils see Severson’s potential, so he’d be extremely difficult to snag. But the lines of communication with New Jersey should at least be easy to open if Lamoriello wants to kick tires.
The Wild have dished out a lot of money and a lot of term to their blue-line, and it could end up costing them a good player. Their two marquee right-handed defencemen are currently Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba, and while the former just signed a major contract extension that kicks in next season to the tune 5.187M annually, the latter will be going to restricted free agency this summer.
Dumba is just 21-years-old and it’d be difficult to convince the Wild to move him, but their spending elsewhere might help force their hand. His numbers aren’t eye-popping, but this is just his second full season. And his production this year (20 points in 59 games) has been respectable for a sophomore guy playing 16 minutes a night.
Dumba was a 7th overall pick in 2012, so he’s expected to perform as a top-pairing guy in the long term. But out of this list, he, along with Severson, still likely present the most risk in for a pursuing team, in that it would mean spending assets and cash on potential.
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