5 Center Targets for the Leafs at the Trade Deadline

As the trade deadline draws closer and closer, we at Maple Leafs Nation are looking at some potential deadline additions, position by position.

First, let’s take a look at some of the centers that the Leafs could potentially try and go after at the deadline. I’m going to avoid some of the bigger names that have been floating around, like Tavares, and, to a lesser extent, Brassard, mostly because the Leafs don’t need a top nine. Instead, I’ll just be looking at potential replacements for Dominic Moore in that fourth line center role.

Derek Ryan

Anyone who’s read any of my other articles about potential options for the Leafs at center, you won’t be surprised to see Derek Ryan on this list. He’s the ideal candidate for playing on the fourth line role, in terms of who’s available. He’s defensively responsible, with a 52.7% 5v5 CF% and 53.14% xGF% in the last three seasons, and he’s having a solid offensive season, with 26 points in 58 games. His contract is very reasonable at $1.45 million, with it coming up at the end of the season. And he’s also 56.1% on the faceoff dot this season, which means Babcock would probably use him more too. It’s really hard to see why he wouldn’t work here.

Mark Letestu

While not a defensive stalwart, Letestu is someone who could provide some depth at center for the Leafs. With a 47.43% 5v5 CF% and a 52.98% 5v5 xGF%, he can certainly hold his own defensively, and it’ll be interesting to see if he might get better away from Edmonton. Also, he’s become an option for the Oilers on the power play, so he could add a bit more depth for the Leafs there, even though that’s probably the last thing they need right now. His contract is quite good at only $1.8 million, and expires at the end of the year. He’s also 53.4% on the faceoff dot, so that would be something that Babcock likes as well.

Alex Galchenyuk

This one’s a bit of a long shot, but I have him on here because Galchenyuk has some untapped potential that he hasn’t really had the chance to show in Montreal. Perhaps a change of scenery would help him with that. He’d be a solid buy-low candidate, as you could get him for a lot less than what he’s actually worth. However, I wouldn’t see the Leafs playing him at center even if they got him, and there’s no way the Canadiens would trade him to the Leafs.

Boone Jenner

Much like Galchenyuk, Jenner would be a solid buy low candidate for the Leafs to potentially explore to improve their center depth. While he’s having a rough year, with just six goals and 18 points in 53 games, he’s also only shooting 4.5% this season, well below his career average of 10.1%. If the Jackets are selling him at a low price, he could be something the Leafs go after as a potential project. Even better, he’s having a poor season going into contract negotiations as an RFA, which means he could get re-signed to a team-friendly deal, if the right cards are played.

Not Luke Glendening

I’m not even going to try and explain this one. It’s common sense guys, just don’t do it.

  • Capt.Jay

    Would a trade of JVR for Galchenyuk be doable. One is under performing but younger with possible untapped potential while the other produces year end and year out but is slightly older and heading into UFA.

    Too risky for Montreal to lose him for nothing at seasons end?

    Too risky for the Leafs as it’s not enough for a proven goal scorer, albeit an upcoming UFA?

  • Bob Canuck

    According to the Skatr Comparison tool 5v5 data), which can be found at the link below, the Leafs would have to see a lot of upside in Galchenyuk for him to be a trade target of theirs. He is in the 18th percentile (not good) in xGF%, 23rd percentile in CF% on a team that ranks 14th out of 31 teams in terms of possession, his quality of competition is in the 41st percentile, and his zone starts are 88th percentile. Also, his cap hit is $4.9 million for the next two seasons after which he will become a UFA.

    I don’t see why the Leafs would want him, especially at that cap hit.


  • Bob Canuck

    I also don’t understand why Derek Ryan would be available. Over his last 5 games, he is averaging over 16 minutes per game. Carolina is one point out of the wildcard playoff spot and they can certainly use the playoff revenue. He is attractive but would the return in a trade justify reducing your chances of making the playoffs? I am doubtful it would.

    • Bob Canuck

      I should clarify the second last sentence. Ryan would be attractive to the Leafs but, from Carolina’s perspective, would the return in a trade justify reducing the Hurricanes chances of making the playoffs.