Thank God the Toronto Maple Leafs are already in good position for a playoff run, as they currently sit in third place of the Atlantic Division with 81 points. Because - let's be honest - some other elements are not really working in their favour.
First of all, there is the nerve-racking Auston Matthews injury. On Friday, head coach Mike Babcock has revealed that his star player will be "out for a bit" and is considered day-to-day with a shoulder injury. TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie reported that the young phenom underwent an MRI on Friday after leaving early in Thursday night’s win over the New York Islanders. Babcock added that the Leafs will know more about his status today, as Toronto will be back in action tonight at home against the Boston Bruins.
Second, and this one may be hard to accept as the trade deadline is only two days away: the current market is truly ruining the Leafs' chance to land the needed help they need for a long and successful playoff run. As Luke Fox of Sportsnet points out, the market is just not helping Toronto:
"Toronto requires a top-four right-shot defenseman and more centre depth, especially in light of third-line pivot Tyler Bozak’s likely departure this summer.
Most of the enticing stay-at-home defenders available — Ryan McDonagh, Jack Johnson, Matt Hunwick or Ian Cole (who was just moved yesterday and expected to be shipped off again before Monday) — are left shots. And most of the best forwards on the market — Rick Nash, Evander Kane, Mike Hoffman, Patrick Maroon — play wing."
Since the Derick Brassard trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins after Fox penned his article, he thought maybe the former Ottawa Senators centre could have been the right option for the Leafs. However, he had noted that Sens general manager Pierre Dorion was not looking to make a deal with a provincial rival, and then you know what happened, Brassard was moved to the Penguins in a complex trade that also involved the Vegas Golden Knights. Fox then suggests this:
"Toronto could look at Detroit’s Luke Glendening, Edmonton’s Mark Letestu, or New York’s David Desharnais as a bottom-six centre."
It is no secret, Toronto general manager Lou Lamoriello has been asking about Glendening in the recent week. Frank Seravalli on TSN was the first to report that the Maple Leafs have inquired about Glendening in Detroit. Though they are not the only club to have done so, as the Dallas Stars have also made the call, the link between Glendening and Babcock could give Toronto the edge.
However, one of the main problems with Glendening is that his term is three more years after this one on his contract. His annual cap hit seems somewhat affordable though, at $1.8 million.
While Letestu is counting his days in Edmonton, the Oilers might be greedy when asking for a return - especially after revealing they were looking to add speed. As for Desharnais, the Rangers have made it clear they are willing to sell and could be the most affordable option for the Leafs. But, you have to admit, the market is quite scarce for the Leafs...
Lamoriello could give a shot to a young player in the minors, as such Frederik Gauthier or Ben Smith... The clock is ticking and the Leafs might have to make a drastic change ahead of Monday.