The 2022-23 NHL trade deadline is March 3 and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas will likely be one of the more active executives in the league. The Maple Leafs will be going all in this season as they try to knock down the first-round barriers that continue to haunt their franchise. Dubas has shown this season with prior trades involving Connor Timmins and Dryden Hunt, he’s trying to upgrade and create the best balance possible for this roster.
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Recently, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman reported the Maple Leafs may not necessarily make one splash and could be in the market to make multiple deals on a lesser scale. This strategy could benefit the hockey club as they have multiple holes among their forward group which need to be addressed.
Maple Leafs Should Add 2 Forwards
Currently, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has Calle Jarnkrok playing on the team’s second line with John Tavares and Mitch Marner. This should be an area that Dubas explores on the trade market as Toronto should consider adding a left winger to play with Marner and Tavares and move Jarnkrok down to the third line.
By bumping Jarnkrok down to the bottom six, it would have a ripple effect on Pierre Engvall, who should be on the team’s fourth line. This is the type of balance the Maple Leafs need to be successful down the stretch and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
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Dubas should also consider adding another fourth-line winger who has Stanley Cup Playoff experience under his belt. The Hunt experiment will be fun to watch over the course of the next couple of weeks, and so far he’s looked like he can make an impact on this team with his physical play. As for other options on the fourth line, Zach Aston-Reese hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, meanwhile Pontus Holmberg isn’t going anywhere and has had a huge impact on the team’s bottom six. Aston-Reese is someone the team should consider replacing as the trade deadline creeps closer.
There’s also injuries to consider and Toronto has been banged up several times throughout the season. Adding more depth to their forward group is something Dubas needs to consider with his trade strategy this season.
Maple Leafs Defensive Targets Will Be Minimal
When this season started, the Maple Leafs defense was an area of concern. Now, at almost the half way point of the season, Toronto has shown some serious depth on their blue line and are getting back to healthy as a group.
Leafs’ veteran Morgan Rielly recently returned to the lineup and with the emergence of Timmins, Dubas has basically added two defensemen with one move. Rasmus Sandin, Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl will round out the team’s top seven defensemen for the rest of this season.
It’s very unlikely the team swings for the fences on a stud defenseman. Toronto has some serious depth and I’ve yet to include Jordie Benn and Victor Mete in the conversation. Dubas’ attention is going to be better served trying to find a top-six impact forward and let his prior moves to upgrade the blue line breathe.
Leafs Nation can expect their GM to be active in several trade conversations throughout the next couple of months. Dubas is going to get as creative as possible leading up to the trade deadline as he’ll do whatever he can to upgrade the roster prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. His attention will be best served adding a couple of wingers to the mix as the Maple Leafs look to reach the second round for the first time in almost 20 years.