A Look Back At The Trades Of Dave Nonis

With the 2016-17 trade deadline fast approaching, I thought it might be fun to take a trip down memory lane for a retrospective on the trades of the previous management regime.  Dave Nonis was General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs for two and a half seasons, covering three trade deadlines.  In this post I’m going to take a look at every trade the Leafs made while Nonis was GM to and see how those trades have affected Toronto’s current roster.  The Leafs have had quite a bit of roster turnover in the past few seasons.  How many of Nonis’s acquisitions are still making an impact with the team?  Let’s take a look.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
January 16, 2013 ARI Matthew Lombardi 2014 4th

Dave Nonis’s first trade sent a veteran centre to the Coyotes to clear out a roster spot.  The pick wasn’t worth much, but Lombardi was out of the NHL 28 games later.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
March 4, 2013 EDM Mike Brown 2014 4th

Mike Brown wasn’t very good, so getting even a mid-round pick for him isn’t a bad return, but it didn’t really do anything for the Leafs either.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
March 14, 2013 WSH Nicolas Deschamps Kevin Marshall

Deschamps has played three NHL games, Marshall’s played none. An inconsequential swap of prospects.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
March 15, 2013 ANA David Steckel Ryan Lasch
2014 7th

Steckel played 21 more NHL games and is now playing in Europe.  Lasch has been a high scorer in various European leagues but never made an NHL roster.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
April 3, 2013 COL 2014 4th Ryan O’Byrne

Randy Carlyle inexplicably played Ryan O’Byrne in the playoffs while making Jake Gardiner a healthy scratch, one of the most infuriating moments of the Nonis/Carlyle era.  The pick the Leafs gave up was meaningless, but this trade was emblematic of the flawed Nonis/Carlyle approach, loading up on size and grit while misevaluating and sidelining more talented players.  O’Byrne is now out of the league while Gardiner has been the Leafs best defenceman for much of the time since then.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
June 23, 2013 LAK Matt Frattin Jonathan Bernier
Ben Scrivens
2015 2nd

This is the first trade of any consequence that Nonis made and was another example of his inability to accurately judge his own roster.  James Reimer had just put up a .924 SV% the previous season, dragging the Leafs into the playoffs, where his .923 SV% against the Bruins nearly led the Leafs to a massive upset.  In the seasons since this trade James Reimer has an above-average .917 SV% while Bernier has a slightly-below average .914.  Mike Babcock was never a fan of Bernier, and the Leafs were happy to move on from him this past summer.

The Leafs, having perhaps not learned much from the Vesa Toskala and Bernier trades, recently gave up good assets to acquire a Western conference goalie with a limited number of NHL games, promptly giving him a large pay increase.

The 2nd round draft pick included in this trade was eventually sent to Columbus in the Marian Gaborik trade and then wound up back with the Leafs when Toronto traded down with the Blue Jackets for this pick and a 3rd rounder.  The pick was used on Travis Dermott.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
June 30, 2013 CHI 2013 2nd Dave Bolland
2013 4th
2014 4th

A week after the Bernier trade Nonis made another move that he seemed to hope would shape the direction of the team, acquiring Chicago’s 3rd line centre for three draft picks.  None of the picks the Leafs sent to the Blackhawks have turned into NHLers so far, but it was part of a bad habit of Nonis shipping out 2nd round picks in seasons where the Leafs did not make the playoffs.  The Leafs tried to sign Bolland to what would have been a disastrous long-term contract extension, but were thankfully saved by Dale Tallon.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
September 29, 2013 CGY Joe Colborne 2014 4th

While this trade doesn’t look like much on the surface, the Leafs gave up a useful depth centre for virtually nothing in order to make sure that there was a roster spot open for Frazer MacLaren.  Colborne played at nearly a 40-point pace in the three seasons following this trade, while MacLaren finished his NHL career with 11 points.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
November 16, 2013 ANA Jesse Blacker Peter Holland
2014 2nd Brad Staubitz
2014 7th

This trade wasn’t bad on the surface, as Holland was a good prospect and the Leafs seriously lacked depth at centre, but Holland was rarely used by the Leafs before being traded to the Coyotes earlier this season, and once again the Leafs gave up a valuable pick (it ended up being 38th overall) while getting no long-term value in return.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
January 1, 2014 CAR J-M Liles Tim Gleason
Dennis Robertson

One of the worst trades of the Nonis era saw the Leafs trade a player who would go on to be useful for two more teams in exchange for a slow, injury-prone stay-at-home defenceman.  The Leafs wound up buying out Gleason, who hasn’t played a game for Toronto in nearly three years, while the buyout has $1.3M counting against the Leafs’ salary cap until the end of next season.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
January 22, 2014 LAK Andrew Crescenzi Brandon Kozun

Another swap of minor leaguers that hasn’t had any effect on either team.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
January 31, 2014 EDM Mark Fraser Teemu Hartikainen
Cameron Abney

Hartikainen was a decent prospect who’s put up points in Europe while Fraser was one of the Leafs worst defencemen, so this trade is easy to mark as a win even though Teemu didn’t pan out.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
June 28, 2014 STL Carl Gunnarsson Roman Polak
2014 4th

Nonis somehow managed to make a trade in which he gave up the better player and paid a draft pick to do so.  Polak’s play has been much maligned in his time with the Leafs, though the Leafs did eventually manage to recoup some draft picks for him.  Yet another trade in which Nonis acquired a big, gritty player who failed to make the Leafs better.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
July 1, 2014 CBJ Jerry D’Amigo Matt Frattin
2015 7th

A pretty inconsequential trade, although Nonis spending the early part of the 2014 off-season trying to put back together a Komarov/Kadri/Frattin line that ran on a huge PDO hot-streak two years prior was baffling.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
February 6, 2015 TBL Carton Ashton (nothing)
David Broll

This trade was the Leafs giving the Lightning a couple of AHLers so that Toronto could free up a couple of SPC slots for later moves.  Pretty sensible.  This was the 1st trade the Leafs made after Brendan Shanahan fired Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin and replaced them with Kyle Dubas and Mark Hunter, and from this point on it’s difficult to tell exactly how much control Nonis had over moves the team was making.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
February 15, 2015 NSH Cody Franson Olli Jokinen
Mike Santorelli Brendan Leipsic
2015 1st

I would say this is the best trade of Nonis’s time with the Leafs, though as mentioned it’s difficult to tell exactly how much of the result can be credited to Nonis.  Leipsic is a solid prospect who should be a good NHL winger, while the 1st round pick was flipped multiple teams, resulting in the Leafs drafting Travis Dermott, Jeremy Bracco, and Martin Dzierkals.  That’s a great return for two pending UFAs.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
February 25, 2015 PIT Daniel Winnik Zach Sill
2016 2nd
2015 4th

Another pretty good trade.  The Leafs wound up sending the 2nd back to Pittsburgh as an often forgotten part of the Phil Kessel deal a few months later.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
February 26, 2015 CBJ David Clarkson Nathan Horton

This trade has obviously been great for the Leafs, getting them out of one of the NHL’s worst contracts (one that Nonis signed), but it was a lucky result of the Blue Jackets needing to get out of Horton’s uninsured contract, so there’s not much credit to anyone with the Leafs for this trade.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
February 26, 2015 CHI Spencer Abbott T.J. Brennan

Another swap of minor league players.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
March 2, 2015 STL Olli Jokinen Joakim Lindstrom
2016 6th

Getting anything at all for Jokinen in 2015 was surprising, but neither Lindstrom nor the pick have helped the Leafs any.

Date Team From TOR To TOR
March 2, 2015 ANA Korbinian Holzer Eric Brewer
2016 5th

The Leafs essentially agreed to pay the remainder of the injured Brewer’s contract in exchange for a 5th round pick.  Not a notable trade.


Most of the trades Nonis made were inconsequential moves for minor players and mid-to-late round picks.  His bigger moves almost uniformly failed to pan out, with Bolland leaving after a year to go to Florida and Jonathan Bernier eventually included as a minor piece in a trade for Frederik Andersen several months after earning a demotion to the AHL.  It’s difficult to identify any clear wins for the Leafs prior to the hiring of Dubas and Hunter other than the Mark Fraser trade, while some of these trades (like Liles for Gleason) have turned out horribly.  Nonis frequently pursued slow, gritty players who Randy Carlyle gave ice time to ahead of more talented options the club already had available.

Despite the fact that Dave Nonis became GM just four years ago, the Leafs have almost nothing to show for his trades.  The only player currently on the Leafs roster is Roman Polak.  Leipsic should be in the NHL soon, and Bracco and Dermott seem like good prospects, so we can add them to this list as well, although it’s not clear whether Nonis was gone by the time the picks were made and it’s unclear whether he had much of a hand in identifying Leipsic as target.  As a result, the only player we can definitively say Nonis traded for who is still with the Leafs is their 8th best defenceman.  It is a sign of how little Nonis added to the Leafs that as the team turns around and starts climbing the standings, there’s virtually nothing on the roster that he acquired via trade.

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  • LukeWarmWater

    The great news is that since M.L.S.E. fired this Burke flunkie’s sorry ass who followed Burkie around like a sad lost puppy, gardeners in Canada can now grow a sweet potato or yam that can handle the we the north climate. You put Stellick and Nonis together and you still got one quarter of a G.M.

  • Simon Bud Wake

    Nonis was definitely a junk GM but a feel like a few of these trades were wins (although minor ones). Like trading for Kozun… obviously not a major game changer, but he played some nhl games and we got him for a player who played none. And aquiring Holland I would consider a win because at the time we had zero centre depth and mulitple injuries. I think we were playing with JVR shifted to centre and Smith (who belonged in the AHL) as the #2… gotta ice a team..