The Nashville Predators are open for business, which should have the attention of the Toronto Maple Leafs. General manager (GM) Kyle Dubas should be ready to pull the trigger on a blockbuster deal with Preds GM David Poile ahead of the 2023 trade deadline. It’s simply too good of a match not to.
Once Nashville moved forward Nino Niederreiter to the Winnipeg Jets, it became clear the Predators are selling. Word is the only untouchables are stud defenseman Roman Josi, Vezina trophy candidate Juuse Saros and winger Filip Forsberg. While those three help any team in the league, there’s a couple of available Predators’ players who would fit in perfectly for the Maple Leafs, including:
A defenseman who has been linked to the Maple Leafs for quite some time now, Mattias Ekholm is everything the blue line needs and more. Versatile to play in all situations, Ekholm is top-pairing defenseman who is playing close to 22 minutes a night for the Predators.
His well-rounded game includes above-average offensive instincts, a shut-down skill set and a level of toughness that would elevate the Maple Leafs defense core in a major way. You don’t have to run around and hit everyone and try to fight the team’s toughest players to play the game tough. Ekholm finishes his checks when he’s supposed to, he’s willing to block shots (75 in 2022-23) and he competes each and every night. Honestly, there may not be a better suited available blueliner for Dubas and company.
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While landing just Ekholm would be a huge addition for the Maple Leafs, their GM should try to shoot for the moon with this potential trade and add another gritty forward to their mix.
One of my recent bottom-six trade targets for Toronto, Tanner Jeannot of the Predators would be a huge addition for the Maple Leafs and would help solidify the team’s forward depth.
Jeannot is a bang-and-crash winger who burst onto the scene in 2021-22, during his first full season in the league, scoring 24 goals. He hits absolutely everything in site and is a heavy fore-checker who would bring a much more physical game to the table over the likes of Pierre Engvall and Alexander Kerfoot. Jeannot is a much cheaper option as well, only carrying a $800,000 cap hit.
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The feisty winger has recorded a whopping 213 hits on the season, to go along with 14 points and 85 minutes in penalties. He isn’t afraid to fight anyone in the league in order to stick up for himself or his teammates and with the Boston Bruins getting much tougher with their latest trade, adding Garnet Hathaway, Jeannot could help balance out the toughness between the two rivals.
I also feel Jeannot would be an upgrade over having to play Wayne Simmonds. He’s a much better skater, he’s more versatile, as he can play either wing and he’s one of the Predators best penalty killers. He also happens to be 25 years old and a pending restricted free agent. The team control makes him a very attractive trade target for Dubas and the Maple Leafs.
If the Maple Leafs are going to get the Predators to agree to this trade it’s likely we see a couple of the team’s better prospects heading to Smashville, and this could include Bobby McMann and Topi Niemela. Dubas doesn’t have a ton of draft picks left to offer and would need to part with a couple of prospects who are closing in on being NHL ready. While it’s never easy, neither is winning the Stanley Cup and if Dubas wants to give this team the best chance to win, he should strongly consider adding Ekholm before the trade deadline to solidify his defense and getting Jeannot in the deal would be an absolute cherry on top.
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