Maple Leafs Trade Leivo to Canucks, Keep Their Promise

After the Toronto Maple Leafs signed William Nylander to a six-year extension on Saturday, it was only a matter of time before the dominoes started to fall as it pertained to the rest of the roster. The Maple Leafs would need to make room for their returning sniper and moving out money and roster players were likely to be part of the re-shaping process.

On Monday, the team announced they have acquired prospect forward Michael Carcone from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Josh Leivo. Leivo was a roster player — although he didn’t get a ton of ice time in Toronto — and Carcone will likely play for the Marlies, potentially not seeing much of the NHL this season, if any time at all.

Nylander will slot in and the roster will get shuffled with some additional moves potentially coming down the road.

Why Josh Leivo?

The Maple Leafs had to move someone and, in a way, they owed it to Leivo. Leivo had four goals and two assists in 27 games for the Maple Leafs this season and was making $925 K per season. It’s not the huge savings in cap space the Maple Leafs will need after this season, but any little bit helps and Leivo could be sacrificed with the Maple Leafs not short of offensive options. So too, this was an opportunity to do something good for a player who’s time was only going to go down.

Speculation was that Canucks general manager Jim Benning has had an eye on Leivo for a while.  Benning is hoping he can fit into role in the Canucks Top 9 forwards and be a top two-line winger. He’ll certainly get more ice time, starting with the Canucks game tomorrow versus the Minnesota Wild.

Josh Leivo, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL, Hockey
Josh Leivo (Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Pierre Lebrun said the trade didn’t take long to consummate. Benning called Kyle Dubas and asked about him for the first time and within hours the deal was done. LeBrun called the timing perfect with the signing of Nylander. LeBrun also added that the Canucks see this as a good buy low option.

When Leivo signed his extension in Toronto, it was promised that if Leivo’s role was diminished this season, they would do what they could to move him to another destination. It appears this trade is Dubas keeping good on that promise.

Related: NHL News & Notes: Flyers General Manager, Leivo & More

Who Is Michael Carcone?

As per the Maple Leafs official website:

“Carcone, 22, has appeared in 20 games with the Utica Comets (AHL) during the 2018-19 season, recording six goals and 11 assists for 17 points. Prior to joining the Canucks organization, the Ajax, Ontario native played two seasons for the Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMHJL) and recorded 130 points (59 goals, 71 assists) in 116 games.”

Carcone was originally signed as a free agent by the Canucks on July 15, 2016, but hadn’t played in a game yet for the Canucks this season.

If you were to ask most fans in Vancouver, many would contend that, at the very least, Carcone’s future was uncertain, some suggesting he didn’t have much to offer in the NHL. The idea that the Cancuks were able to snag Leivo in exchange for a prospect like Carcone is good news and it’s predicted Leivo will be more useful in a bottom-six role than Brendan Leipsic was, who the Canucks placed on waivers over the weekend.

That said, Carcone should be expected to add value for the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate.

Related: Sabres vs. Maple Leafs Showdown: Who Will Win?

What’s Next in Toronto and Vancouver?

Leivo will get a chance to show he’s more than what Toronto pegged him to be. Carcone will do what he can to get noticed by a Maple Leafs organization that doesn’t really need him. In the end, the Maple Leafs cleared a little room, kept their word and the Canucks took advantage of the fact the Maple Leafs need to do so.

In a corresponding move, defenceman Travis Dermott has been recalled from the Toronto Marlies (AHL).