According to a report from TSN trade insider Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs have targeted New York Rangers captain Ryan McDonagh as a potential trade acquisition.
Up until now, any talk surrounding the Leafs and deadline day moves has been mostly reserved to rumours and speculation that Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello will look to tweak his team’s lineup. A move to acquire McDonagh however, would surely blow up the team’s forward lines. That’s because it’s expected that any deal between the Leafs and the Rangers for McDonagh would HAVE to include Leafs sophomore William Nylander.
Ouch. That seems awfully steep. As good as McDonagh is, he’s not worth as much as Nylander. It’s nearly impossible to compare the two players given their positions and roles on the ice, but in Nylander the Leafs have a 21-year-old emerging star player who is on pace to put up back-to-back 20+ goal and 60+ point seasons. Players like that don’t exactly grow on trees.
As for McDonagh, he’s no slouch and quite frankly, he’d be an excellent fit on the Leafs’ blue line. The cost to acquire him, at this point, seems too high though. The 28-year-old defenceman has two goals and 24 points in 49 games for the Bruins this season, but is a perennial 30-40 point Dman historically. He’s a defensive zone specialist and can play in almost any situation, even-strength, power play, penalty kill… McDonagh can do it all.
As you might expect, Leafs fan reaction to a potential Nylander for McDonagh deal has not been well received:
Blue line help coming for Leafs at deadline
In related Leafs news, former FAN 590 reporter and Leafs insider Howard Berger reports that the Leafs WILL make a move at the deadline to acquire a defenceman... even if it's not a big name like MDonagh.
Straight from Berger:
“According to a long–time Western Conference scout with whom I check every year at this juncture, the Toronto Maple Leafs will bolster their blue line before Monday’s National Hockey League trade deadline.”
This shouldn’t come as a surprise to Leafs fans though, really. For weeks now Leafs Nation has been subjected to daily trade rumours with the team being linked to just about every blue liner on the open market.
“Based on the rumblings I’m hearing, it wouldn’t surprise me if [general manager] Lou Lamoriello added at least one defenseman,” the anonymous scout shared with Berger. “If you look at Toronto’s depth chart, you can see who the top four guys are. I think Lou wants to improve on the bottom two for the playoffs.”
If we’re assuming that the top four are Morgan Rielly with Ron Hainsey and Jake Gardiner with Nikita Zaitsev, then that means that Lamoriello is looking to improve upon his third pairing rotation of Travis Dermott, Roman Polak, Connor Carrick and Andreas Borgman. In many people’s eyes, Dermott has earned the opportunity to stick with the team full-time. But, if the Leafs can find him a stable, reliable partner on the open trade market… why not jump at the opportunity?
The Leafs have been linked to Ottawa Senators superstar Erik Karlsson, the Arizona Coyotes’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson and the Los Angeles Kings’ Drew Doughty, but those players all seem like long-shot bets to end up in a Leafs sweater. Again, McDonagh seems like a stretch. It’s much more likely that the Leafs pursue a depth defenseman ex-Leaf Matt Hunwick, now of the Pittsburgh Penguins, or Detroit Red Wings’ blue liner Danny DeKeyser. If the Leafs are looking for a top-four contributor they have options in DeKeyser’s Red Wings teammate Mike Green and Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.
The team’s most recent moves, shipping Nikita Soshnikov to the St. Louis Blues and Eric Fehr to the San Jose Sharks, give it some flexibility at this year’s deadline. The Leafs can afford to take on a contract, or two, and have a bit of wiggle room under the NHL’s salary cap. What they intend to do with that wiggle room however, remains to be soon. Things should get interesting.