With notes from Adam Laskaris.
I hope you weren’t sleeping, because the Toronto Maple Leafs’ front office sure isn’t.
The Leafs have traded Daniel Winnik and Anaheim’s fifth-round pick in 2016 to the Washington Capitals in exchange for Brooks Laich, Washington’s second-round pick in 2016 and prospect Connor Carrick.
Laich comes to Toronto with a cap hit of $4.5M this year and next; with just 7 points through 60 games so far this season, it’s a pretty obvious salary dump for the Capitals. In return for eating his salary, the Leafs move up three rounds in the draft and pick up a prospect.
While fans are likely most familiar with Laich, and also excited about adding another second-round pick, it’s Connor Carrick (no relation to Sam) that might be the biggest piece of Toronto’s return.
Carrick, 21, was a fifth-round pick of the Capitals in 2012 out of the U.S. National Development Program. After a season-long stint in the OHL with the now defunct Plymouth Whalers, Carrick made Washington’s opening night roster during the 2013-14 season and appeared in 34 games in his rookie year. Since then, he’s spent the majority of his time with AHL Hershey – over two seasons, the right-handed Carrick has scored 18 goals and 71 points in 132 games played.
At 5’11, 191lbs, Carrick lacks size. However, his skating ability and offensive gifts should be enough to cement his place on an NHL roster. He’s likely not a top-pairing guy, but could develop into a point-producing second or third-pairing defender and power-play regular.
This is, by and large, an excellent return for a bottom-six forward and some cap space. In adding that second-round pick, Toronto now has eight selections in the first four rounds of this summer’s draft, and Carrick immediately becomes one of Toronto’s best defensive prospects – maybe even top ten in the system.