The Toronto Maple Leafs are taking a very open-minded approach to this season’s trade deadline as general manager Kyle Dubas has many different lines in the water. The strategy for this season will be much different than what we saw in 2020-21 when Toronto was simply in the market for rentals. Dubas ended up trading away multiple pieces and was left with essentially nothing but another first-round exit and Nick Foligno’s bad back.
This trade deadline will be much different for the Maple Leafs, who are interested in players who can help them this season and beyond, and they won’t be afraid to acquire a player with term left on his contract. Insert the New York Islanders, a team that’s gone through a disappointing campaign so far, sitting 14 points out of a playoff spot entering play Wednesday night. The Leafs and Isles have a history of completing deals, some of which have included the likes of Matt Martin, Michael Grabner and Mikhail Grabovski.
With Lou Lamoriello in charge on Long Island, it certainly brings a new element between these two clubs. Let’s examine a couple of Islanders who the Maple Leafs should target before the March 21 trade deadline.
Get ready Leafs Nation, you’re going to hear a lot about Scott Mayfield’s game leading up to the trade deadline as he’s been linked to the Maple Leafs on many levels. He’s a stay-at-home defenseman and someone who isn’t shy to go into those dirty areas and battle. The 29-year-old is a towering presence at 6-foot-4 and he’s currently second on the team with 64 blocked shots. Comparatively speaking, this would lead the Maple Leafs by a landslide and is something the team could certainly use more of from the entire group.
Mayfield has recorded 10 points in 35 games this season and he’s on pace for a career year offensively. His contract is great at only $1.45 million annually and he’s signed through next season. The Islanders shut-down defender also was a stud during last season’s playoffs, which is something that shouldn’t go unnoticed for Dubas and company. His track record in the Stanley Cup playoffs is impressive, collecting 13 points, 120 blocked shots and 118 hits in 51 playoff games. The Maple Leafs would be upgrading their defense with Mayfield as he’s a cheaper and more suited option than current blueliner Justin Holl.
The asking price here is going to be the kicker as the Islanders will receive a ton of interest in Mayfield. Right-handed defensemen who play hard, can chip in offensively and stick up for their teammates don’t grow on trees. The Islanders have been linked to Travis Dermott in the past, perhaps Dubas and Lamoriello can work out a deal involving Dermott and a prospect. We know Lou is going to drive a hard bargain, so it will be tough to acquire anyone from Long Island.
Why wouldn’t the Maple Leafs check in on Zdeno Chara and see if he’s looking to be moved for another Stanley Cup run? Although he doesn’t hold any trade protection, when you’ve been around like “Big Z” has, management ensures to include you in future plans.
Would Chara be open to Toronto? You would have to think so, considering the Maple Leafs’ roster and how they would have to go through the likes of some of Chara’s old teams in Boston and Washington. Is he the player he once was? Of course not, he’s pushing 50 years old. However, you can’t teach 6-foot-8 and if he’s used properly in a bottom-pairing role to kill penalties and piss off opponents, it would be a very interesting low-risk high-reward type of addition for the Maple Leafs.
Chara is still averaging 18:44 of ice-time per game and his 63 hits and 64 penalty minutes both lead the Islanders’ defense. The Maple Leafs are going to need to add some more sandpaper to their blue line for the playoff run and they also need to add more depth as injuries, COVID and everything in between can pop its ugly head up. Chara checks off a lot of boxes and is someone the Maple Leafs should inquire about.
Options Limited to Fill Maple Leafs Needs
After Mayfield and Chara, the well runs pretty dry for targets for Toronto. Names like Mathew Barzal and Andres Lee aren’t going anywhere, and someone like Casey Cizikas isn’t the greatest fit for a cash-strapped Maple Leafs roster. Michael Dal Colle is a name that’s been linked to Toronto in the past as he’s a hometown kid and was once a top prospect who may need a change of scenery. Perhaps a Josh Ho-Sang 2.0 type for Dubas and company but someone that isn’t likely a target at this time.
The last time the Maple Leafs and Islanders completed a trade, it was back in Feb 2020, and Matt Lorito and Jordan Schmaltz were involved. While this one for one blockbuster didn’t send Leafs Nation into a frenzy, adding a Mayfield or a Chara would certainly do more to get the attention of the fan base. Toronto is going for it, New York is selling, and it takes two to tango. Dubas and Lamoriello could find themselves on the dance floor together very soon.
Shane covers any and everything to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs & Pittsburgh Penguins. A constant contributor to the THW family, his passion and unique perspective on the game results in some diverse content. Certainly versatile, you can also find him contributing at NHLTradeRumors.me, BaseballRumors.me & BBallRumors.com. Follow along on Twitter @ShugMcSween