For many months now, it was rumoured that the Toronto Maple Leafs would be active prior to the trade deadline in order to bolster their back end and push the team to become a solid Stanley Cup contender.
But, in the Eastern Conference, nothing is in the bag yet. The Leafs are currently sitting in the last spot of the Atlantic division, and it seems that while they keep battling for a playoff spot, their trade plans might be completely different than they were back in December.
According to Bob McKenzie, who was on the air of TSN Radio 1050 Toronto on Wednesday morning, the Maple Leafs are expected to stay the course ahead of the trade deadline.
When Los Angeles Kings Drew Doughty first pointed out the need for a quality defender in Toronto, it seems like it was all GM Lou Lamoriello was focused on. Now, McKenzie believes the acquistion cost for a top-four blueliner will keep the Leafs out of the trade market.
As a matter of fact, the Leafs already have the solution on the blue line in their current roster.
"I just can't imagine the Leafs are going to get a better defenceman than [Travis] Dermott in a trade if you weight the acquistion price," McKenzie said.
"If Colorado was going to trade Tyson Barrie, the Leafs would want in on that, but do they want in on Tyson Barrie if it's going to cost them Connor Brown? Or some other really premium asset up front, which I think it would because Tyson Barrie is a top-four defenceman in the National Hockey League."
The 21-year-old defenseman, who was called up from the American Hockey League, is a lot better move than trading away key assets at the deadline to land a veteran rental who is not sure of resigning with Toronto in the summer.
In 12 games with Toronto this season, Dermott has tallied a goal and four points, and registered a +6 plus/minus rating so far. Impressive to say the least.
"But Dermott could be that guy, so when you factor in what it would cost to get one of those types of guys... Then you might be better just letting Dermott go through the maturation process and let him be your top four guy and it doesn't cost you anything other than whatever mistakes he makes between now and when he doesn't make mistakes."
The Leafs also have a lot to focus on this season, as the futures of three key pending free agents at forward in James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov will need to be established before the July 1 deadline.
McKenzie cannot imagine the Maple Leafs hurting their chances at the postseason for the return any of the three offer.