4 Maple Leafs’ Trade Targets From Canucks-Blackhawks Game

It was another out-of-town game and another sighting of Kyle Dubas — the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs — on Jan. 24 at the game in Vancouver between the Vancouver Canucks and Chicago Blackhawks. While the CHL’s Top Prospects Game took place on the following evening in Langley and could explain his presence along with other league GM’s at the Canucks’ game, a visit like this one always sparks speculation and curiosity.

Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs
Kyle Dubas, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Alana Davidson/NHLI via Getty Images)

With that in mind, as we did with his visit to the Coyotes-Flyers game earlier in the month, here’s a look at four targets the Maple Leafs’ and Dubas could have their eye on from the matchup between the Canucks and Blackhawks.

Bo Horvat

Along with the rumoured interest the Maple Leafs have in Patrick Kane, which could seem extremely unrealistic to many while considering the team’s cap situation, Bo Horvat may be the next in that column of unrealistic possibilities.

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Still, it’s a target worth considering. No, the Maple Leafs don’t need another centre. No, they probably don’t need more leadership in the room. But the addition of Horvat might fit perfectly with the reduction in role with John Tavares as he serves out the remainder of his contract with the Maple Leafs and could give the Maple Leafs the strongest top-three centres in the league with Auston Matthews, Horvat and Tavares.

Still, cap constraints considered, Horvat might be the most unrealistic option of these four targets. With his contract set to expire at the end of the season, he will surely be looking for a nice increase on the $5.5 million cap hit that he’s had attached to his name since 2017-18.

Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

With the J.T. Miller contract, Horvat is likely unaffordable for the Canucks and has been a reported trade piece for the team all season. As for the Maple Leafs, affordability would come at a cost of moving some players out to re-sign Horvat unless they are willing to acquire him on a rental basis — which the cost seems too steep for a rental.

Regardless, Horvat is going to command a major pay increase as he’s already matched his career-high in goals with 31 through just 48 games and sits just 11 points shy of his career-high in that category that he set back in 2018-19. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him grab $8 million average annual value on the open market when it comes time to sign.

Luke Schenn

While defence doesn’t seem to be the main focal point for the Maple Leafs anymore, a tough defender could add to the team heading into the playoffs. It wouldn’t be a major deal if Luke Schenn was a sole piece coming back for the Maple Leafs, but brining back the former Maple Leafs’ draft pick might not be a horrible idea for Dubas.

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Schenn has bounced around a few times in recent years, but was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning during both of their Stanley Cup runs and could bring that experience and pedigree to a team that is desperate to make it out of the first round.

Now, the Maple Leafs are currently overloaded on the back end, and a move to land another defenceman might be a stretch, but having depth on the blue line isn’t the worst option heading into the playoffs and what Schenn brings is a role that has somewhat been vacated by Jake Muzzin.

Luke Schenn Vancouver Canucks
Luke Schenn, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Schenn leads the league in hits with 230 and is among the top 70 players in blocked shots. Both are aspects of the game the Maple Leafs could use come playoff time — especially in tight games.

While he’s not the quickest or the most offensive option on the market, the Maple Leafs could use another tough, rugged defensemen come playoff time to throw in there if needed alongside Jordie Benn — especially considering they will likely have to go through the Boston Bruins at some point. If he comes at a cheap price, count on Dubas inquiring with the Canucks at the very least.

Jake McCabe

Another defenceman the Maple Leafs have been linked to is Blackhawks’ defenceman Jake McCabe. Now, for starters, the asking price seems to be a little steep for the 29-year-old if the Maple Leafs hope to have some of his salary retained — which would likely be needed as he’s earning $4 million AAV.

This issue with that is that the Maple Leafs would likely have to give up their first-round pick in a deep draft plus a B-level prospect according to Frank Seravalli. If the Maple Leafs ate his entire salary — which runs through 2024-25 — then it would cost them a second-round pick plus the prospect.

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The Maple Leafs currently don’t have their second-round pick in 2023 and to give up their first seems unlikely for McCabe. Still, he’s an option that the Maple Leafs will consider heading into the deadline as he brings a similar game as Schenn with 95 hits and 95 blocked shots thus far this season.

In addition to the asking price, the acquisition of McCabe would hurt their chances of landing a true second-line left-winger to play with Tavares which seems to be the more likely focus at this point in the season. Calle Järnkrok has filled in nicely for the time being, but whether he can continue to produce remains up in the air.

Sam Lafferty

Finally, the Maple Leafs and Dubas could be looking at 27-year-old Sam Lafferty. A fourth-round pick of Pittsburgh in 2014, Lafferty has finally started to have a full-time role in the NHL over the past couple of seasons and currently has a career-high in points this season with 16 through 40 games with the Blackhawks.

Now, that’s not saying a whole lot considering he’s seeing more ice-time than would be the case with the Maple Leafs, but he could be a good depth add for the Maple Leafs if they believe that Järnkrok can fill in on that second line as a long-term solution.

Sam Lafferty Chicago Blackhawks
Sam Lafferty, Chicago Blackhawks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Lafferty’s cap hit is a $1.5 million AAV and he’s only signed for another season, so the Maple Leafs would get another year out of him if they were to land the forward. He’s averaging nearly 15 minutes per game this season and has can play a physical game, if needed.

While a Lafferty acquisition doesn’t address the holes they seem to have, it would give them another depth option without digging too deep into their prospect pool and giving up their first-round pick in a deep 2023 NHL Draft.

Related: Maple Leafs Can’t Give Up on Nick Robertson

All things considered, there may be some unrealistic targets when it comes to the Blackhawks and Canucks as trade partners for the Maple Leafs, but it’d be a stretch to say that Dubas hasn’t surprised us all in the past and it may be time to buckle up for an interesting trade deadline for the Maple Leafs.