According to a report from former Toronto Maple Leafs beat reporter Howard Berger, the team is “kicking trade tires" on St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko.
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TORONTO (July 29) — It is merely a whisper at this point and has a number of moving parts. But, a source tells me the Toronto Maple Leafs, interminably looking for a big–time defenseman, and the St. Louis Blues, in need of offense, have recently kicked trade tires. Whether the tires are flat and meant for a bicycle — or the fully–inflated Hummer issues — remains to be seen. But, the notion is that Kyle Dubas would like to somehow maneuver Colton Parayko out of St. Louis. And, credit to the young general manager for trying.
So, what would it take to pry Parayko from Blues’ GM Doug Armstrong? Should he be willing to sacrifice depth for offense (and, why not?), the Maple Leafs could entice him with a package that includes Gardiner and Andreas Johnsson. Gardiner, 28, is an unrestricted free agent after next season and has been negotiating a contract extension with the Leafs. Though erratic defensively, he’s an elite skater and puck–handler. Playing alongside poised veterans Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester could do wonders for his career. Johnsson appears to have NHL scoring potential at left wing. Only 23 years of age, he tallied 26 times for the American Hockey League Toronto Marlies last season; and then cranked it up in the playoffs with 24 points in 16 games for the Calder Cup champion. He and Gardiner would add creativity and production to the impoverished Blues.
Gardiner and Johnsson for Parayko? Makes sense on paper, but why on earth would the Blues give up a young blue liner signed to a long-term deal like Parayko is for a player who is set to hit the open market as an unrestricted free agent like Gardiner is? In Berger’s own words, a deal like this seems implausible.
To be fair, Parayko would be a fantastic addition to the Leafs’ blue line, which is why the cost to acquire him is so steep. The 25 year old native of St. Albert, Alberta has put up 30+ points in each of his first three NHL seasons, scoring a career high 35 points in 82 games with the Blues in 2016-17.