There is no doubt the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas improved his roster in the final days and hours leading up to the trade deadline. However, a couple of deals occurred you’d think Dubas would’ve liked to be in on. Perhaps he was, and the other teams went a different way, or maybe he didn’t know the player was available for so cheap.
In his post-deadline press conference, Dubas said he felt the prospect pool was deep after the last draft, making it easier to trade away picks. That said, he still had a second, fifth and sixth-round selection in the 2021 draft when the deadline hit. As you’ll see, those selections could’ve netted him some more depth and skill for what is hoped to be a long playoff run.
There were 33 transactions in the five days leading up to and on the trade deadline. You can’t win them all and you can’t be in on all of the trades.
Did he call Brian MacLellan? The Caps GM should’ve hung up the phone from Steve Yzerman, as the Detroit Red Wings went to town on MacLellan. Anthony Mantha for Jakub Vrana, Richard Panik, a first-round 2021 pick and a second 2022 pick. Possibly MacLellan would’ve given more if he just someone called to say hello.
This is the best non-trade of the deadline for Toronto. It’s been clearly demonstrated for several years; where this guy goes, losses follow. While there were rumours Toronto was in the running, I find it highly unlikely. It’s a double win for Leaf Nation if the pattern holds true in Boston.
Another non-trade, but clearly, the price was too high. The Florida Panthers gave up a 2nd round pick and their second-round selection from the 2020 draft in Emil Heineman. Bennett is a restricted free agent, and it’s unknown what kind of money he will be after. Toronto has to have cash available in the offseason to resign Zach Hyman.
This giant of a man was apparently available. The Leafs did grab a depth defenseman in Ben Hutton. But Oleksiak is a guy that could’ve suited up right now and taken Travis Dermott’s spot and contended for Justin Holl’s position in the top four.
The man they call “Big Rig” is a pending unrestricted free agent who came with only a $2.14 cap hit. I can only guess the Dallas Stars asked too much as they didn’t move him at the deadline. Somewhat of a questionable decision, given he has about a month and a half left in the Lone Star State.
Like so many general managers, Dubas must’ve been thinking the Buffalo Sabres were going to shop Staal for a few more weeks. Instead, they shipped the veteran forward and proven winner to the Montreal Canadiens 17 days before the deadline for just a third and a fifth-round selection in the upcoming draft. Bergevin got a good one and didn’t give up much.
A few weeks ago, the Leafs beat the Ottawa Senators in overtime. Seconds after the puck went in the net, Ottawa’s GM, Pierre Dorion, appeared on the broadcast and threw his drink in frustration. Sens coach D.J. Smith joked, “he picked the wrong sport. He could’ve played for my Tigers in Detroit with that arm.” Joking aside, maybe Dorion had no interest in helping his provincial rivals. The Sens traded away three quality defensemen in Erik Gudbranson, Mike Reilly and Braydon Coburn for picks. I can only speculate, but perhaps Dorion threw his phone when he saw the area code 416 calling.
Toronto has some quality defenseman in the prospect pool. Still, there were several blueliners available who went for very little. These guys could’ve not only added depth for a long playoff run but challenged for a roster spot. This is worth repeating; Dubas and his staff did a great job checking the boxes at the deadline. Next time he may want to hire some telemarketers to spam team offices and try to steal some trades. Did someone say Stevie Y?
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.