The Toronto Maple Leafs have turned their season around after a slow start had Leafs Nation freaking out. The team is looking like their old selves, and expectations continue to be sky-high for this group. There’s no doubt general manager Kyle Dubas will be looking to make some additions before the trade deadline, so let’s dive into three early rental candidates who should be on the Maple Leafs’ radar.
Before we jump right in, for this piece, I will focus on forwards, and look for a piece on the defensemen available in the coming weeks. My criteria for choosing these names include a number of aspects, such as the player must be from a team I feel won’t be in the playoffs, making the player likely available.
Also, they must be on an expiring contract which is affordable for the cash-strapped Maple Leafs and be versatile to be used in many ways with Toronto. Nick Foligno last season was, before he got hurt, a perfect addition because he played the wing and down the middle. Let’s see who are some early candidates on the board in 2021-22:
It will likely take a very strong offer from the Maple Leafs that includes perhaps Travis Dermott and a mid-level forward prospect for Robby Fabbri, as the Detroit Red Wings are very high on their 25-year-old forward. So far in 20 games, Fabbri has recorded eight points.
Last season in Motown, Fabbri was on a tear as he finished with a shooting percentage of 17.2%. For some context, the Maple Leafs’ current leader is John Tavares at 12.5%. Fabbri is capable of finishing the play and moving up and down the lineup to either player with top-six forwards or on a third-line to help shut down the opposing top line. The Maple Leafs are going to be looking for someone to stick with David Kampf and Ondrej Kase on the third line and Fabbri is certainly a worthy candidate. He’s also a great candidate to play alongside Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.
Fabbri is someone who Dubas knows very well from the Ontario Hockey League and as we’ve all seen, the Maple Leafs’ general manager loves to surround himself with familiar faces. The versatile forward has spent a decent amount of time in the faceoff dot this season as well, considering he primarily plays the wing. He’s winning his faceoffs at a 52% clip, meanwhile last season he took a career-high 190 draws. This is a great element to have in the Maple Leafs’ back pocket, should someone like Kampf, or Jason Spezza go down to injury.
Lastly the money. Fabbri makes $2.95 million per season and considering they would only be acquiring just under half of that amount closer to the trade deadline, and say with Dermott going the other way, the cash should easily balance itself out enough for the Maple Leafs to make it work.
A Domi back with the Maple Leafs? This would be like Nick Foligno 2.0 but on steroids. The coverage would be wild and it would certainly be entertaining, to say the least. Max Domi has only appeared in six games this season so far but has played great, recording seven points. His $5.3 million salary isn’t ideal but is manageable and could realistically be acquired by the Maple Leafs, who have a long history of being financially creative.
So far this season, Columbus has played better than expected, but I see them coming back down to earth a little bit as we progress through the year. They’re currently in a wild card position, however, the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are three teams that are likely to finish higher in the standings.
Columbus and Toronto did this dance last season and the talks could easily pick themselves back up again as these two teams have made three trades together within the past eight months. Pretty crazy when you think about it, no other duo of teams have done so.
As for Domi’s game, he’s surely not scared to drop his gloves like his father used to for the Maple Leafs, but his offensive game is something the Leafs could use as the likes of Nick Ritchie and Pierre Engvall have been very disappointing at left wing. The great news here is the fact Domi can play center and has been used primarily as a center the past three seasons. In 2021-22, he’s been playing the wing and his production has been great. Roster versatility is a premium in the NHL and the Maple Leafs would have some lineup options with Domi in the mix. A great candidate who can play in any role for a contending team.
The Seattle Kraken are not having a good first season in the NHL and expectations are mounting that the team is going to sell off most of their pending unrestricted free agents. Marcus Johansson is a great candidate for the Maple Leafs as he’s only making $1.5 million on the cap, he’s someone who can play all three forward positions and comes with almost 100 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience.
This season as a Kraken, the native of Landskrona, Sweden has recorded four points in seven games. He battled a bit of injury trouble early on this season as he was hurt in the team’s opening game but has since come back and been one of the best players in Seattle. Johansson is affordable, he’s likely very available and is someone who can help the Maple Leafs.
Maple Leafs’ management continue to work the phones as they have been active early on this season with trade talks and that’s expected to heat up as we close out the calendar year. It’s an all-or-nothing season in Toronto and expect to see some additions brought in to upgrade the group. These are three forwards who should be on the team’s radar and next time around I’ll take a look at some options for the blue line. For now, enjoy the west coast road trip and good luck staying up for the third.
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