Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello has employed two different plans for trade deadline day during his two years with the team.
Back in 2016, during his season as Leafs GM, Lamoriello was an aggressive seller, acquiring assets for Shawn Matthias, Roman Polak, Nick Spaling, James Reimer and Daniel Winnik all before the the trade deadline. Last year, Lamoriello flipped the script and decided to be a buyer at the deadline, acquiring veterans Brian Boyle and Eric Fehr for a playoff run.
This year, don’t be surprised if Lamoriello is both a buyer AND a seller at the deadline. Because, while the team is poised for another playoff showing, they also have a logjam of a situation with regards to the team’s forward lines. There simply aren’t enough roster spots for the Leafs to keep Matt Martin, Josh Leivo and Nikita Soshinikov. Someone’s got to go.
In the meantime, Soshnikov has been placed on the IR while Lamoriello plots his next move. Once Soshnikov has been deemed healthy enough to play, Lamoriello will be forced to make a move. Don’t be fooled though… Soshinkov is just fine, as evidenced by his two goals, five points and 17 shots on goal during his five-game conditioning stint with the Toronto Marlies. The fact that he’s been placed on IR has nothing to do with his health and everything to do with the Leafs’ roster crunch. They don’t call Lamoreillo, “Loophole Lou” for nothing, after all.
At the same time, Lamoriello also has to figure out what he’s going to do with veterans James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov. All three are slated to hit unrestricted free-agency this offseason and could leave the team without bringing back any assets. Does Lamoriello try to recoup some assets now at the deadline? Or let them walk for nothing during the offseason?
On the “buyer’s” end of things, the Leafs also have some lineup holes to fill. Rookie Travis Dermott has been a revelation, but the Leafs could still use another top four, right-shooting defenceman. It’s believed that Lamoriello is taking a long hard look at Vancouver Canucks blue liner Erik Gudbranson and Detroit Red Wings defender Mike Green. Both players are on expiring deals and could provide a boost to the team’s blue line as a playoff rental.
Buying… selling… Lamoniello’s got it all going on at this year’s annual NHL Swap Meet. Step right up!