Maple Leafs’ Trade Targets on the Ottawa Senators

The trade deadline is just over two months away, and many teams are engaged in discussions. The Toronto Maple Leafs are among the teams in active talks, and general manager Kyle Dubas is working the phones trying to upgrade his roster. Leafs Nation is desperate for their team to make it past the first round of the playoffs and waiting patiently for a move or two to push the club over the top.

The Ottawa Senators could help. Another Dion Phaneuf trade? Highly unlikely. But here’s a look at the Senators roster, which has a few players who should be considered trade targets for the Maple Leafs.

Nick Paul

The 26-year-old is a native of Mississauga and becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer. There’s been hardly any noise about a contract extension, and Paul could certainly be moved before the deadline in late March.

In 30 games this season, Paul has six goals and eight points. He’s versatile as he not only can be solid on the left wing, but he’s comfortable at center and has taken almost 300 faceoffs in 2021-22. He was known as a power forward who scored a ton of goals in junior hockey but hasn’t been able to enjoy the same success at the pro level. He’s had 20-point campaigns in 56 games the past two seasons, and while adding Paul wouldn’t be a blockbuster move for the Maple Leafs, he would add to their depth, which my colleague Kevin Armstrong focused on in his latest article. 

Related: Maple Leafs’ Trade Targets on the New Jersey Devils

Paul should appeal to the Maple Leafs because both Dubas and Sheldon Keefe are familiar with his game, and there’s no commitment past this season. He’s also a great penalty killer who isn’t shy to muck it up in the dirty areas. He’s similar to Nick Ritchie but half the price, and he kills penalties. The Senators should receive many calls looking for their asking price.

Chris Tierney

Another pending free agent, Tierney, will be highly sought after at the deadline. He’s a defensive-minded center who hasn’t had the best season in Ottawa. The Keswick, ON native has nine points in 31 games, but as we’ve seen with the Senators in general, it’s been a struggle on a team that isn’t as talented as they need to be. 

Chris Tierney, Ottawa Senators
Chris Tierney should be on the Maple Leafs’ radar for the right price (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Tierney should appeal to the Maple Leafs because their fourth line could use center depth. They also need some insurance for David Kampf, who has had a tremendous impact on the hockey club centring the third line. Toronto has been successful this season because they are among the league leaders in faceoff percentage, and they have the puck more than their opponents – and centers are like pitchers in postseason baseball: you can never have enough. 

While the Senators forward doesn’t have a Stanley Cup ring to lean on, his 40 games of postseason experience matter, and he’s shown that he can put up 40-plus points as he did with the San Jose Sharks. Tierney won’t cost a top prospect or first-round pick and should be on the Maple Leafs’ radar.

Nick Holden

Holden isn’t a flashy name, but he’s a solid defenseman who can provide depth, experience and again, no commitment from the Maple Leafs as he’s a pending free agent. In his first season with the Senators, the 34-year-old has performed well, averaging 19:19 of ice time a night. He kills penalties, can play both sides of the rink, and comes with a wealth of experience that includes 538 NHL games and 55 more in the postseason.

Nick Holden Ottawa Senators
Nick Holden of the Ottawa Senators could help provide depth for the Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

This would be a depth move that costs very little and, with all the injuries and COVID-related absences, Toronto will need a few proven players waiting in the wings. The Senators’ defenseman would add depth to the Maple Leafs’ roster and could become an upgrade over Travis Dermott and Justin Holl – who Dubas has included in their trade discussions. During the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season with the Vegas Golden Knights, Holden recorded an impressive seven points in 15 games and was their best defenseman at times. He’s a solid option for the Maple Leafs. 

There we have it, folks. These are three options from the Senators who all bring different assets to the table. While none of these trade targets will make a giant splash in Toronto, they are three solid players who should be on Dubas’ radar as he turns over every rock to ensure they don’t miss out on a potential deal.

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