Maple Leafs Should Make Tyler Myers Package Deal with Canucks

Tyler Myers, a defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks, should be catching the attention of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The area of need is “up front and on D,” according to Kyle Dubas, who made this statement during a press conference on Feb. 9.

Substack Subscribe to the THW Daily and never miss the best of The Hockey Writers Banner

Myers, a right-handed defenseman with a huge frame, is a viable trade option for the Maple Leafs because, at 6-foot-8 and 229 pounds, he is exactly what the Leafs’ back end needs. Another benefit for Dubas, who likes trading for players with long contracts, is that Myers is not a rental. He has a $6 million average annual value (AAV) cap hit and is currently in the fourth year of a five-year deal. If Toronto is successful in acquiring him from Vancouver, it is anticipated that the Canucks will retain 50 percent of his salary. That would allow the 33-year-old to stay under Toronto’s cap and drop his AAV to $3 million for the remainder of this season and next.

Myers’ Fit with the Maple Leafs

Myers fits the Maple Leafs’ defence almost perfectly. He not only brings the club much-needed size but he also is an additional defender on the penalty kill. He will add hits and blocks to the lineup with 58 hits and 73 blocks so far this season. Over the span of a 14-year career, he has 1,098 hits and 1,307 blocks, which can address a need for the playoffs. Myers also has postseason experience, which is always beneficial to a club. Over his 49 playoff games, he has accumulated 15 points, 50 hits, and 81 blocks. Although the Maple Leafs have had playoff experience over the last number of years, it is always a good idea to add more when you are preparing for a long run.

Tyler Myers Vancouver Canucks
Tyler Myers, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The foundation of the Maple Leafs’ defense currently includes three right-handed (Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren, and Conor Timmins) and five left-handed (Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Rasmus Sandin, and Jordie Benn) defensemen. There is depth among those eight players, but Myers might fill a void as an additional right-handed defender. However, Brodie usually plays on the right side because that is where he feels most comfortable, but if Toronto could bring in another player who can play on his natural side, that might help alleviate some possible problems in the event of an injury.

Related: 4 Takeaways From Kyle Dubas’ Post-All-Star Break Presser

Latest News & Highlights

The Leafs have a “win-now mentality,” which may imply decisions that not every player agrees with, but management has a job to do to improve their chances of winning. The addition of Myers fills a potential long-term gap for the Maple Leafs, and even though it may not push them over the edge, it adds an element that the team lacks.

Canucks & Leafs Can Expand Deal

As a result of the potential trade talks happening between the Canucks and Maple Leafs, there is always a chance that the teams will take care of another necessity. According to Dubas, they want to add “up front and on D.” Therefore, the Leafs could be interested in some of the forwards in Vancouver as well.

Dubas may be wise to consider Curtis Lazar and Dakota Joshua as extra options in a trade package along with Myers. In the 2014 Draft, the Maple Leafs selected Joshua as the 128th overall choice in the fifth round. He is in the first year of a two-year contract, and his current AAV of $825,000 is within the range that the organization can afford. Lazar is also not a rental player; he recently agreed to a three-year deal with a $1 million AAV, which the Maple Leafs could also afford to take on.

Curtis Lazar Vancouver Canucks
Curtis Lazar, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Maple Leafs frequently lack depth and tenacity during the playoffs, but Lazar and Joshua can make up for it. Alex Steeves and Joey Anderson, two players from the team’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, the Toronto Marlies, have been given the chance to test whether they can bear the load at the NHL level. This would make it easier for management to improve the team ahead of the NHL trade deadline. Unfortunately, those two will most likely not be in the lineup when the playoffs begin; instead, the newcomers will. Toronto should therefore concentrate on bringing in affordable forwards like Lazar and Dakota who can consistently compete at the NHL level.

Related: Maple Leafs & Canucks Could Connect for a Deadline Deal

Lazar is a serviceable faceoff man who can also play the wing and is a reliable penalty killer. He may serve as the team’s insurance for David Kampf and Pontus Holmberg, which is a useful tool to have. It is well known that Keefe prefers to rely on his bottom six to shut down the opposition before passing the momentum to the top six. He has a career faceoff winning percentage (FO%) of 47.2% and a 61.5% defensive zone start percentage (dZS%), which suggests that Keefe will likely deploy him in the defensive zone.

Though they still have Wayne Simmonds, who is tough, Joshua also offers the tenacity that the Leafs frequently need in the playoffs. The 26-year-old has 52 penalty minutes (PIM) this season but also 13 points, which is something that the Leafs don’t typically get from Simmonds anymore. This by no means implies that Simmonds is done or that he is no longer needed; rather, the team should take a closer look at Joshua. It never hurts to have extra guys who can throw their weight around on the ice. He can play both up the middle and on the wing, similar to Lazar, and he gives the bottom six extra size. He has 120 hits through 50 games this season and is 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds.

Dakota Joshua Vancouver Canucks
Dakota Joshua, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Maple Leafs need players who won’t allow the opposition to take shots at their teammates during the grind of the playoffs. Joshua has fought four times so far this season, which is more than half the total number of fights the Leafs have been in (7). Even though fighting is on its way out, both Joshua and Simmonds can fulfill the demand and defend their teammates when needed.

It would be wise for the Maple Leafs to add Myers before the trade deadline. However, if Dubas can put together a package deal and acquire additional forwards for the bottom six, it may make this move one of the year’s most underrated transactions. Since their first-round series with the Tampa Bay Lightning is all but guaranteed, Toronto needs to add some size to its roster before the playoffs. We all witnessed how the series between these two played out last year, and that served as a warning that they needed to bolster their roster with grit if they wanted to make a deep postseason run in 2023.

You may also like: