Leafs Steal Kerby Rychel in Trade with Blue Jackets

The Toronto Maple Leafs made a trade just a few hours after the end of the draft. The Leafs were quick to work out a deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets, trading Scott Harrington and a conditional fifth round pick in exchange for Kerby Rychel. This is a fantastic trade for the Leafs and a puzzling one for the Blue Jackets.

Breaking Down the Trade

Harrington was acquired by the Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins and there was some optimism about his chances of making the team. That optimism was quickly replaced with disappointment after Harrington was kept out of both the NHL and AHL lineup for most of the year because of injuries. The injuries couldn’t have come at a worse time for him as he was quickly pushed down the Leafs’ defensive depth chart. It also didn’t help Harrington that this was a contract year with him becoming a restricted free agent this offseason.

Harrington had barely played for the organization before losing his spot. Also, with the log jam of defensemen that can play bottom-pairing minutes with the Leafs or top-pairing minutes with the Toronto Marlies, it meant that someone had to go. And Harrington happened to be the defenseman that went.

One of the reasons why the Leafs were probably able to even get Rychel, for such a cheap price, is that he reportedly asked to be traded before the start of this season. When something like this happens, it often puts the general manager in a tough position. Obviously, a general manager would want a fair return, but moving a player can be difficult when you consider who would even want to make a deal and who could actually make a deal.

The Conditional 5th and Waivers

The other aspect of this trade is the conditional fifth and how it relates to waiver eligibility for both players. Rychel is under contract until the 2017-18 NHL season, while Harrington is an RFA and waiver eligible.

This means that either the Blue Jackets sign Harrington and the Leafs don’t owe them the fifth anymore, or the Blue Jackets put him on waivers and he is claimed by another team. What this means is that depending on what the Blue Jackets do with Harrington, the Leafs will have acquired Rychel for either Harrington or a fifth round pick.

Rychel costing the Leafs either Harrington or a fifth round pick makes this trade a fantastic steal for the Leafs.

What the Leafs Get in Kerby Rychel

With Rychel, the Leafs get a player that could either develop into a top-nine or even a top-six role if you’re being optimistic, but at worst the Leafs have gotten a big, young winger that can give the Leafs some extra size. Rychel is only 21-years old, so he will continue to develop, but where he will ultimately end up with the Leafs is unclear.

It’s very likely that Rychel starts the season with the Marlies as a bunch of players are higher up in the depth chart. This should give Rychel an opportunity to excel in the AHL, since most of the Marlies’ top six will be getting spots on the Leafs.

Rychel will be a risk for the Leafs. But when looking at what this trade cost the Leafs and Rychel’s potential, it makes the trade a tremendous steal for the Leafs.