The Toronto Maple Leafs have been one of the model teams to successfully put youth at the forefront of a quick rebuild. Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Morgan Rielly, Connor Brown, the list goes on.
Mike Babcock still relies on his veterans pretty heavily, but he's put in a lot of trust in these kids, and their emergence has allowed this team to become a competitive team a lot quicker than most probably anticipated.
One young player who, despite his skill and decent metrics in a small sample, hasn't gotten the chance to stick with the lineup on a regular basis, has requested a trade.
According to Sportsnet's Nick Kypreos, forward Josh Leivo has officially told Lou Lamoriello that he wants to be traded ahead of the February 26th. Of course, if Babcock were to decide that he deserves a regular spot in the lineup, he'd be happy to stay, but that's just not going to happen at this point.
The 24-year-old has only played in 12 games this season, collecting 3 points in the process. He's been a healthy scratch for the rest of it.
The right-handed shot plays on his off wing, and has the speed and skill to fit into a team's forward corps, but for inexplicable reasons, Babcock simply hasn't wanted to give him the opportunity.
When asked about the trade request, Babcock said he knew nothing about it.
“As far as Leivs goes, he hasn’t got a lot of opportunity to play, but I’d talk to Lou if I was you about that. I know nothing,” Babcock said, according to Sportsnet's Luke Fox.
But he went on to say that they like him, and that's why they re-signed him in November to a one-year extension. “He’s a player that we like,” Babcock said at the time of the contract signing. “So if you like a guy, why wouldn’t you [re-sign him]?”
It seems confusing and slightly unfair to him to keep him in the dog house for this long. It may be hard for Lamoriello to even trade him given the fact that he has hardly played, and can't be showcased at all.
We have about 3 weeks to see if this trade request materializes into an actual deal.