Wild’s 2023 Offseason Trade Targets: Toronto Maple Leafs

Welcome to The Hockey Writers’ 2023 Offseason Trade Targets series for the Minnesota Wild. During it, we will be looking at a handful of players from each NHL team who the Wild should consider pursuing this summer.

In the first installment of this series for the Wild coverage we will be looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs. After breaking their first-round curse, they lost to the Florida Panthers in Round 2 after only five games. Changes are more than likely going to happen after the disappointment of not going all the way to the final.

  • Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Cap Space: $8,222,717
  • Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA): 10
  • Restricted Free Agents (RFA): 8

The cap situation is a little dire with the Maple Leafs. They went into long-term injured reserve cap relief in order to remain compliant with the NHL rules. The only reason they have $8 million in cap space is because of all the unrestricted and restricted free agents that need to be re-signed if they choose to do so.

Conor Timmins

Conor Timmins was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes before the trade deadline this past season. He only played in 27 games but had a very respectable stat line of two goals, 12 assists, 14 points, 23 hits, 18 blocks, and 19 shots while averaging 15:05 of ice time per game. He’s a right-handed defender who was primarily utilized in a third-pairing role. With a Corsi for percentage (CF%) of 54.2 and a goals-for percentage (GF%) of 50, the team isn’t at risk of being out-chanced and out-scored when he is on the ice.

Conor Timmins Toronto Maple Leafs
Conor Timmins, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Timmins would be a great third-pairing defender option for the Wild. He has decent size at 6-foot-2 and 202 pounds and has decent puck-moving ability. He could also be a useful seventh defender, which is advantageous for all of the defencemen associated with the organization. With Matt Dumba and John Klingberg both right-handed defencemen who need new contracts, they could replace one of those options with Timmins.

Related: Red Wings 2023 Offseason Trade Targets: New York Rangers

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The Wild’s cap space is similar to the Maple Leafs with $8.235 million available for next year at the time of this writing. That makes any trade a “dollar-in-dollar-out” situation. Jon Merrill could make sense with a cap hit of only $100,000 more than Timmins. Would the Maple Leafs trade 24-year-old Timmins for 31-year-old Merrill? If Merrill fits their desired roster construction better it could happen. The Maple Leafs traded a depth player for Timmins so a one-for-one deal feels right. If the Maple Leafs shed some salary in a different deal a second or third-round pick might do the trick instead.

T.J. Brodie

T.J. Brodie is a versatile defender who can play both sides even though he is right-handed. He has a good two-way game but primarily contributes through defensive play. He has a bit of offence and tallied 14 points in 58 games this season. Brodie’s CF% was 51.7, while his GF% was 53.6. This demonstrates his ability to help limit chances on his own goaltender and generate chances offensively.

TJ Brodie Toronto Maple Leafs
TJ Brodie, Toronto Maple Leafs (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brodie would slot in on the second pairing. Depending on if Matt Dumba is re-signed or not, he could be asked to slide over to the right side. If Dumba stays he can push Jake Middleton down to the third pairing and have three strong pairings at their disposal.

Jon Merrill and a third-round pick in 2025 could be enough to make this happen. If they do this trade, they probably don’t bring back John Klingberg, just to ensure they remain cap compliant. The third-round pick could get upgraded to a second-round selection in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft if the Maple Leafs retain a fraction of his $5 million salary.

William Nylander

William Nylander scored 40 goals for the first time in his eight-year career this season. He added 47 assists for 87 total points. All three of those statistics were career highs for the Swedish forward. Nylander followed up that fantastic regular season with 10 points in 11 playoff games.

William Nylander Toronto Maple Leafs
William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

It’s easy to imagine Nylander in the Wild’s top six. With only 14 goals in six playoff appearances, the Wild need more offense from their team. Nylander can drive the offence for the second line or move up to the top line with Kirill Kaprisov.

The Maple Leafs need a right-handed defender. Dumba has grit and offense to his game that could complement the Maple Leafs’ current roster. Coming off of a $6 million contract, it’s safe to say that he’ll command a similar cap on his next deal. Maybe Dumba’s UFA rights and Marco Rossi gets the deal done. Jesper Wallstedt would be off the table due to early indications that he could become an elite goaltender. Rossi still has tremendous upside, but he might be due for a change of scenery as he hasn’t been given an extended look in the NHL even though he’s more than earned it.

If the Wild can add any of these players I think it would be an improvement on their present roster. With a deeper blue line or a lethal weapon in the top six, things would be looking brighter for the Wild’s 2023-24 season.

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