General manager Kyle Dubas took some heat on Monday for doing little at the trade deadline to overhaul the Toronto Maple Leafs’ lineup. However, when Dubas spoke on the Tim & Sid Show today when the trade deadline was over, he said the team had made deals earlier in the month to get Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford from the Los Angeles Kings and Denis Malgin from the Florida Panthers.
Still, many fans were upset he didn’t do more. Fans especially noted that Tyson Barrie was still with the team after the deadline. Should the Leafs make the playoffs, Barrie might prove helpful to the team’s playoff success. But, that’s to know in a few months.
As the team begins a Florida road trip starting Tuesday night, in this post I want to help Maple Leafs fans stay up-to-date with what transpired at the trade deadline and other news coming from the team.
Item One: Kevin Gravel Plays Yo-Yo between the Maple Leafs and the Marlies
It must be an advantage when your NHL club and AHL affiliate play in the same city and actually practice in the same building. That’s the case with the Maple Leafs and the Toronto Marlies. Still, I get caught when I hear a player is “shipped to minors” from Toronto when it probably only means he moved down the hall to another dressing room.
However it works, defenseman Kevin Gravel was called up to the Maple Leafs before Monday’s trade deadline in case the team traded a defenseman from its roster. However, at the end of the day, the 27-year-old headed back to the Marlies.
I note this “minor” player movement because it leads me to believe that, although nothing transpired at the deadline, some trade talk about defensemen must have been in the works but wasn’t consummated before the deadline.
Item Two: Maple Leafs Get Another Ivy Leaguer in Matt Lorito
Matt Lorito was traded to the Maple Leafs from the New York Islanders for Jordan Schmaltz.
Lorito hasn’t played in an NHL game since the 2016-17 season when he had an assist in two games with Detroit. Since 2016-17, he’s played in the AHL with the Grand Rapids Griffins (with the Red Wings) and Bridgeport Sound Tigers (with the Islanders). He’ll probably move to the Marlies.
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Lorito is a native of nearby Oakville, Ontario. Like Alex Kerfoot, who played at Harvard, the 29-year-old Lorito went to an Ivy League school in Brown University (Providence, Rhode Island). He’s an intelligent guy. From my perspective, an organization can’t have too many smart guys.
Item Three: Calle Rosen Returns to the Maple Leafs; Michael Hutchinson Gets A New Chance
Other than Jake Gardiner last season, probably no Maple Leafs player needed to be moved as badly as Michael Hutchinson. Today, the Hutchinson backup goalie era ended in Toronto when he was traded to the Colorado Avalanche for Calle Rosen. When Campbell was brought in on Feb. 5, Hutchinson became a memory.
By moving to the mountains of Colorado, Hutchinson gets away from the spotlight and the intense criticism, and Toronto brings a familiar defenseman into the dressing room. Even if this trade doesn’t work for the teams, it probably works for the players.
Rosen hasn’t played in an NHL game for the Avalanche since Dec. 16. In eight games this season, the 26-year-old Swede has two assists and averaged 13:49 of ice time. Rosen reports to the Marlies, where he’s played 116 games. In 2018, he was a key player with a Marlies team that won the Calder Cup. Rosen was traded to the Avalanche last summer with veteran Nazem Kadri for Alex Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie.
Item Four: Dmytro Timashov Gets Picked off Waivers by the Detroit Red Wings
Dmytro Timashov was placed on waivers by the Maple Leafs on Sunday and claimed by the Detroit Red Wings on Monday. I had predicted the feisty Russian forward would find a new home because he had skills and plays with an edge. The 23-year-old only saw limited action with the Maple Leafs this season and scored nine points playing on the fourth line.
Because they had the worst record in the NHL, the Red Wings had the first crack at claiming Timashov, and general manager Steve Yzerman didn’t hesitate. He only had a roster spot to lose and the Red Wings need all kinds of help.
Timashov, who was drafted in the fifth round at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, had a great 2018-19 season in the AHL, scoring 14 goals and 35 assists in 52 games. He also added 10 points in 13 games in the AHL playoffs.
Item Five: Morgan Rielly Skated on Monday
Morgan Rielly was spotted on the practice ice Monday. He skated for about 10 minutes, but not quickly. Rielly noted it would be hard work to progress but that he was going to the gym and getting treatments. The Maple Leafs expect his fractured foot to be healed enough to let him return game action by mid-March.
Item Six: Jake Muzzin Contract Extension Announced
I reported days ago that the Maple Leafs were close to extending defenseman Jake Muzzin. Apparently, the deal was all but done but couldn’t be announced thanks to cap complications. On Monday, the Maple Leafs officially announced Muzzin’s contract extension.
The contract carries a salary-cap hit of $5.625 million per year and Muzzin would receive $16.8 million in a signing bonus as part of the deal. In total, the contract extension was worth $22.5 million over four seasons.
Muzzin was a defenseman the Maple Leafs didn’t want to lose. In fact, Dubas called him essential to the team’s success. In the media availability at the end of the deadline, Dubas noted that Muzzin was good when things were good but was even more important to the team when things weren’t good.
The extension will make Muzzin the Maple Leafs’ highest-paid defenseman next season, ahead of Morgan Rielly, whose salary-cap hit is $5 million through 2021-22. This was an important leadership signing for the team.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The Maple Leafs are on the road to play the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Florida Panthers this week. In a surprising move, the Panthers traded Vincent Trocheck to the Carolina Hurricanes. Does this move mean they are giving up on the season? It’ll be fun to see how the Maple Leafs fare as they move past the deadline and get back to the task of securing a playoff spot.
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