Welcome back to another episode of Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2022-23 trade targets. The series where I’ll examine a few players from teams around the league who could potentially fit for Maple Leafs general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas. From blockbuster moves to minor upgrades, all will be covered and potential trade packages will be discussed.
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So far, the series has examined trade targets from the Anaheim Ducks, Philadelphia Flyers, Edmonton Oilers, and Chicago Blackhawks. Next stop, Smashville to visit in with the Nashville Predators. Here’s two players the Maple Leafs GM should have on his radar:
The Predators signed Nino Niederreiter last summer to a two-year deal worth $4 million per season. So far in his first 33 games with the franchise, the 6-foot-2 left winger has recorded 11 goals and 17 points.
Niederreiter would fit in nicely on the Maple Leafs second line alongside John Tavares and Mitch Marner. He’s a big body who loves to play a physical game and isn’t one to shy away from the dirty areas of the ice. Niederreiter has recorded 71 hits so far this season and he’s the type of power forward the Maple Leafs could use much more of.
Adding a player like Niederreiter would allow head coach Sheldon Keefe to move down Calle Jarnkrok to the team’s third line which could help balance out their attack even more. Jarnkrok is playing out of his mind right now, but to me, is better suited in a checking role on the team’s third line.
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As for Niederreiter, he doesn’t hold any trade protection and can be moved at will. He’d likely cost the Maple Leafs a high-end prospect because of his NHL experience and the fact he’s signed for next season. This is a case where I think Dubas and company should consider moving Nick Robertson. He’s been injury plagued since joining the franchise, however he still holds enough trade value at 21 years old to land a proven NHL forward. Niederreiter has an impressive track record of being a 20-goal scorer and with his 80 games of Stanley Cup experience he certainly could bring a lot to the table for Toronto.
Speaking of Predators forwards who love the dirty areas of the ice, maybe none more than Tanner Jeannot. The 25-year-old has struggled this season, collecting only three goals and six points through 33 games, however if you circle back to last season, he scored 24 times and burst onto the scene as a power forward for the Preds.
Jeannot would give the Maple Leafs another bruising winger who loves to throw his body around. He’s recorded a team-leading 128 hits through 33 games. To give you an idea, the leading Maple Leafs in hits is currently Zach Aston-Reese with 75.
Jeannot is versatile to play either wing position, something the Maple Leafs coaching staff love as injuries have played a major part in their season to this point. Another piece that makes the Predators pest so appealing is the fact he’s only making $800,000 against the cap. The Maple Leafs are cash strapped and adding a player under $1 million who can potentially have a major impact on their lineup sounds like the perfect recipe for success.
The Maple Leafs would likely need to send a mid-level prospect to Nashville to complete this deal, something they have a ton of among their prospect capital. Jeannot won’t cost Dubas any of their top prospects, and considering the type of game he brings to the table, this could be a perfect fit.
We saw with the Connor Timmins trade with the Arizona Coyotes, sometimes it’s a good thing to pick up a struggling player and insert him into the lineup in the right situation. Timmins has been lights out since joining the Maple Leafs and I could see much of the same for Jeannot in blue and white. The fact he’s a restricted free agent at the end of the season would basically be the cherry on top.
Predators and Maple Leafs Align Nicely for a Deal
The Predators enter Friday night’s action with a 14-14-5 record on the season. They are currently seven points out of a wild card position in the Western Conference and have several teams they will need to leap frog to get themselves into the playoff picture. If Nashville isn’t able to string together some wins in early 2023, Dubas and company should have their GM David Poile on speed dial.
Poile is never shy to make a bold move and for the Maple Leafs, adding both of these forwards would be an absolute dream scenario. They would solidify their top-six, add another bang-and-crasher to the bottom-six, shoring up their roster for what I feel would be a long Stanley Cup Playoff run.
Dubas should be keeping his eye on where Nashville sits in the standings. If the struggles continue, he may want to send a trade package Poile can’t refuse and do his best to get out ahead of the trade market this season. The Maple Leafs are a great team right now, they could become scary good with the additions of Niederreiter and Jeannot to their lineup.