As the Mar. 8th NHL Trade Deadline inches closer, there continues to be a lot of speculation as to what teams are going to do. Some have done their shopping in advance while others need to get a jump on things. Including Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving.
While they may standpat as they haven’t shown to be buyers, there’s still reason to suggest the Maple Leafs could make a big move. During the Maple Leafs game against the Dallas Stars, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman in his 32 Thoughts says that the Maple Leafs continue to circle around Calgary Flames defender Chris Tanev as a main target, but also adds that they could be looking for a centre as well.
Depth up the middle can go a long way for any team especially as it’s one area that can always be improved upon. Should the Maple Leafs go down that road, there are some impactful options on trade bait boards that stand out.
Should a bigger move materialize with the Flames in a Tanev deal, there are plenty of names that Maple Leafs can look at up front. One of them could be Blake Coleman, but there needs to be a lot of movement and money in, money out.
He’s everything the team needs in regards to a strong, two-way pivot. He’s quick, intense, has two Stanley Cups to his name and plays the way a team needs to win consistently. The one reason why it may not be likely is his contract. He’s signed for the next three seasons at $4.9 million per season after this one and owns a no movement clause for this season. The value isn’t bad, but there could be some salary retention there. The other thing to consider is his NMC, but there’s always a chance that he could waive it to go to a team in hopes of making a deep run. We saw that with Andrei Kuzmenko when he waived his in the Elias Lindholm deal.
At the moment, Coleman is living up to his contract. He’s currently second in team scoring with 21 goals and 43 points behind only Nazem Kadri. This season is the third time he hit the 20-goal mark as he did that twice with the New Jersey Devils. Even his underlying numbers are strong. At five-on-five with 300 minutes played, Coleman has the third best Corsi for percentage (54.03), goals for percentage (59.02) and the fourth-best high danger goals for percentage (63.33). He’s a factor on the penalty kill as well averaging 1:38 per game.
Coleman is the type of player this team needs. He has the speed to close gaps and pressure opponents, can play the body and provide a strong defensive presence within his own zone. Should the Maple Leafs need a reliable energetic middle-six forward, he’s a perfect fit.
This isn’t the first time that the Philadelphia Flyers centre can be seen as a fit for the Maple Leafs. With 21 points in 53 games this season, he’s fourth on TSN’s trade bait board and his contract is something that could be enticing to the Maple Leafs. He carries a $3 million cap hit for another two seasons and is an ideal third line centre. While it’s a contract that helps them out, Scott Laughton’s in-your-face style and energy is a big boost to any team.
While Laughton has shown that he can be an effective role player who is physical and a factor on both sides of the puck, he has struggled this season. He’s on-pace for 32 points, well short of the 43 he had the previous season. He’s been on for 32 goals against at 5-on-5 and hasn’t provided much in scoring chances or high danger chances as he’s below 45% in both categories.
For a team like the Maple Leafs who need some consistent secondary scoring, this might be a cause for concern. It could just be a struggle for him this season as Laughton has produced in the past, including at the 2023 World Championship where he registered eight points in 10 games winning a gold medal. He brings a strong veteran presence, leadership qualities and the physicality can be a great addition for this team.
The Maple Leafs have been inconsistent when it comes to this aspect and his tenacious and relentless style could benefit a team like the Maple Leafs in the playoffs.
With Lindholm and Sean Monahan being the top centres dealt, the shift now focuses to Anaheim Ducks centre Adam Henrique. Dating back to last season, I’ve always thought of Henrique as a perfect fit for the Maple Leafs to add. This season, that continues to be the case as he’s once again a player the team could look at in order to improve their forward unit.
Henrique is in the final season of his contract with a $5.825 million cap hit and while the Ducks are the at the bottom of standings, his value is pretty high. He has 15 goals–closing in on his seventh 20-goal season– and 35 points in 50 games, good for a 0.70 point per game average. When he’s on the ice, the Ducks have a 57.69 HDGF% at 5-on-5.
Henrique has the size to play a strong, power forward game that can compliment the skill of the Maple Leafs core forwards. He can play with great pace, while crashing the net and battling in the tough areas on the ice. He may not be physical, but he remains smart and can get the inside edge to win battles and create separation. In addition, he’s more positionally sound and responsible than some of the other forwards the team currently has and can be very versatile in the lineup.
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While defense is probably the main priority, if the Maple Leafs are serious about adding depth up the middle of the ice, there are plenty of strong options for them to do so. All three of Coleman, Laughton and Henrique bring either the grit needed to be physical or the skill that can help compliment this team and give some strong secondary scoring. Treliving has a lot of work to do in order to give this team a shakeup and improve what currently ails them.