We are now almost a month away from the trade deadline, and activity is expected pick up as the big day approaches. Over the years, the days leading up to the deadline have started to get filled with more and more trades, to the point where those hosting trade deadline frenzy shows have had little to discuss because a lot of the deals have already transpired.
Will the Toronto Maple Leafs be one of the teams to jump the gun and make a pre-deadline deal?
No one really knows that outside of the team's management.
But what has leaked out from various sources, according to The Fourth Period, is that the Leafs have been strongly connected with four of the top available defensemen on the market, and are expected to pitch offers for them.
One of the names on the list is Erik Gudbranson and there's already an offer on the table for him - Andrew Nielsen and a draft pick. The Leafs have also reportedly pitched another offer to a Canucks defenseman who isn't necessarily on the market - Chris Tanev. The offer there is Timothy Liljegren and a first round pick.
This report was confirmed by Jason Botchford of The Province.
Aside from those guys, there are three other players available, albeit with no reported offer on the table.
There's Mike Green of the Detroit Red Wings, who is all but guaranteed to be traded. Playing on an expiring deal, the Red Wings are in a situation where they need to load up on futures and continue to retool and rebuild that franchise. Green is their best defenseman this season, and is likely to draw a nice return. The Leafs figure to be one of the top suitors for his services.
The next player is Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche. His name has been on the trade rumour mill for about as long as Matt Duchene's was, but the difference was, he didn't actively demand for a trade, as far as we know anyway. And with the Avalanche in the midst of a massive winning streak and back in a playoff spot after an abysmal season, the odds of Barrie being let go are fading.
Barrie is on track for a huge year, potentially over 50 points if he keeps up his excellent pace, while the Leafs would be happy to have him, it's hard to envision Joe Sakic letting him go this year. That could be a deal for the offseason. He has two more years at $5.5 million.
The last name is Oliver Ekman-Larsson. The Coyotes defenseman has been more and more involved in trade discussions as of late. While it originally seemed like a pipe dream that he gets traded this season, let alone at all, the chances of that are increasing by the day. Now - this would be a hockey deal and would require sacrifice on the part of the Leafs, with potentially one of William Nylander or Mitch Marner being involved. It would be the kind of deal that disrupts the team's chemistry and is usually better suited for the summer.
But never say never.
So we have two offers for different Canucks' defensemen, and 3 other names that the Leafs are chasing down. We'd be very surprised if they didn't land one of them by February 26th.