- With just under two weeks until the trade deadline, Maple Leafs GM Brad Treliving is trying to turn over every rock to see what his options are when it comes to acquiring a right-handed defencemen. Treliving has been looking to upgrade since day one on the job, however preliminary talks haven’t resulted in completed transactions and now the clock is ticking.
Elliotte Friedman reiterated the Maple Leafs interest in finding a righty d-man on Saturday’s Hockey Night in Canada broadcast and there are several blueliners who have already been linked to the Leafs, and a couple others who make sense.
Here’s six right-handed defensemen Treliving is likely having conversations about at the moment:
Chris Tanev, Calgary Flames
Tanev’s been linked since essentially day one of Treliving’s tenure, due to the familiarity factor between GM and player. Tanev also happens to be a pending free agent and one of the best teammates anyone could ask for, which makes things very bitter sweet for Flames GM Craig Conroy.
Calgary wants a lot for the shut-down d-man as Conroy knows how valuable Tanev can be for a contending team and there’s plenty who are interested. The Leafs will have to fend off the likes of the Stars, Lightning and Canucks, to name a few, and may have to go as high as a first-rounder to land the 34-year-old.
Tanev’s a shot-blocking wizard, he can play heavy minutes and his penalty killing prowess is something that would move the needle in Toronto. A first-rounder though? Not without a contract extension, that’s for sure, and even then how long and how much are we talking for a veteran blueliner who has played a full 82-game season just once in 14 seasons.
If a third-rounder and a high-end prospect can get the deal done, Treliving likely pulls the trigger immediately, but the financials of any deal are going to be very difficult to navigate as Tanev’s set to earn $4.5 million against the cap and the Leafs are currently projected to have $2.1 in deadline cap space. The Flames are just a few points out of a playoff spot but do have a couple of teams to leap frog so it will be interesting to see how Conroy goes about his deadline business.
Adam Larsson, Seattle Kraken
One of the most popular options among our group of writers, Adam Larsson is someone who Treliving would be willing to give his first-round pick up for. Larsson’s signed through next season at a reasonable $4 million and is a great option as a partner for Rielly. It sounds like Toronto has been paying a bit more attention to Seattle of late, perhaps it’s Larsson on their radar:
TOR, EDM, NYR, OTT, ARI, SJS
— Emerald City Hockey (@EmeraldCityHky) February 23, 2024
The 31-year-old is a big body at 6-foot-3, he’s plays with an edge, is someone Treliving is very familiar with from his days out west and this season in Seattle, is playing over 23 minutes a night. Hailing from Sweden doesn’t hurt as well. The Leafs have a ton of Swedes and will make Larsson’s transition that much easier to handle.
The Kraken d-man has recorded 17 points in 57 games, he’s playing PK1, and he’s a member of the 100-100 club, with 119 hits and 107 blocks to this point. There aren’t many boxes that Larsson doesn’t check off for the Leafs. He’d complement this group nicely and allow for more balance among the top three pairings. It gives Keefe a chance to pair him with Rielly, keep Benoit and McCabe together and leave Brodie with Liljegren, which seems to be effective of late. Then you have Mark Giordano as the 7th d-man.
Larsson owns a 10-team no-trade clause however a legitimate chance to go deep in the playoffs in Toronto could be something that appeals to him.
Matt Dumba, Arizona Coyotes
It’s been well documented around these parts that Dumba was Treliving’s preference over John Klingberg, but unfortunately last summer it didn’t work out for the Maple Leafs. Now he’s someone Toronto has on their radar and it’s possible that Treliving and Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong have had some conversations these last couple of weeks.
The Coyotes are reportedly open to any trade if it means draft picks are coming back the other way. Dumba, at the right price, would be a huge get for the Maple Leafs and someone the team could pair nicely with Morgan Rielly. He’ll make a little less than Tanev this season, at $3.9 million and be a little bit cheaper to acquire. Dumba also happens to be five years younger and is someone who the Maple Leafs could lock up long term.
The Saskatchewan native has recorded four goals and nine points in 52 games this season and isn’t afraid to lay bone-crushing hits and sacrifice his body throughout each and every game. Dumba’s a gamer, he has a history of being much more offensively minded than he’s given credit for and he checks several boxes for the Maple Leafs. Given the asking price, previous interest and the current need, don’t be surprised to see Dumba in blue and white before March 8.
Sean Walker, Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers have a couple of pending free-defencemen who are drawing trade interest from other teams and Sean Walker is one who Treliving has already called Philadelphia about. While there’s been reports about contract extension talks between Nick Seeler and the Flyers, the same can’t be said for Walker. Instead, John Tortorella is cutting interviews saying it’s a business and the team would be ‘dopes’ to not listen on Walker trade interest.
The Keswick, ON native is one of the purest skaters in the league. He has a very high hockey IQ and if he was just a little bit more ‘nasty’, he’d be exactly what the Maple Leafs are looking for. Walker has recorded 20 points in 58 games, and is on pace for career-best numbers in just about every category.
Walker and Rielly would be able to put on a skating clinic every shift they’re paired together but given the Flyers are going to try and shoot for a kings ransom, will Treliving come up to Daniel Briere’s asking price? The Leafs don’t have a second-rounder for the next three drafts and they aren’t interested in moving the 2024 first-rounder unless it’s for a long-term commitment.
Walker is likely lower on Treliving’s wish list, but certainly someone the team has circled as an option, based on how talks proceed this next week or so.
Alexandre Carrier, Nashville Predators
A 5-foot-11 defenceman who plays much bigger, Carrier is someone who has been named a trade candidate for most of the season, even though the Predators continue to win games and stay relevant in the playoff conversation. The Maple Leafs aren’t the only ones interested and it seems like the market is picking up in a major way of late, and rightfully so:
There are rumors that the Boston Bruins have interest in Alexandre Carrier from the Nashville Predators. Yeah, it would make a sense. Carrier is an underrated & TOP4 defenseman in our opinion. He’s also a pending UFA. pic.twitter.com/SlAV51vQXn
— Andy & Rono (@ARHockeyStats) February 18, 2024
Carrier is a pending free-agent making $2.5 million against the cap this season and is having a fine season with 17 points in 53 games, playing 18:16 a night, including 2:20 shorthanded, and has registered 51 hits and 108 blocked shots.
Carrier is known for someone who plays smart, tough, simple and effective. He’s nothing flashy and may not necessarily move the needle like a Dumba or Tanev, but he’s very effective playing his own game and doesn’t get outside of himself, sticking to what he knows he needs to do to be effective. Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli had this to say about Carrier’s trade profile a couple of weeks ago:
Carrier is a no-maintenance addition to any playoff-bound team. What he lacks in sizzle, Carrier more than makes up for in substance, and his acquisition cost shouldn’t be over the top in relation to the security he could provide.
He’s someone Treliving has already called the Preds about and could be a long-term option for the Maple Leafs considering he doesn’t turn 28 until the start of next season.
Colton Parayko, St Louis Blues
The most expensive and the least likely, it was somewhat surprising to hear Friedman see Parayko as who should be the Leafs #1 trade target recently. The Blues are looking to re-tool and could be interest in moving Parayko, but they have to ask him to waive his no-trade clause.
The towering d-man is signed through the 2029-30 season at $6.5 million AAV which scares a lot of Leafs fans when his name is brought up as an option. Rightfully so, there’s a ton of risk involved here. The price tag would be substantial, there would be a lot of moving parts just to make the money work and who knows if the Alberta native is even interested in playing in Toronto’s fish bowl.
The Blues are fighting for their playoff lives so again, the trade offer would need to have short and long-term impacts and not exactly kill the mood in the dressing room, or the team’s fight to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It’s unlikely to say the least, but Parayko is someone who has been linked to the Leafs recently and someone who has been linked to Treliving run hockey teams in the past.
Nevertheless, there are at least six trade options for Treliving to consider if he wants to find a right-handed partner for Rielly on the team’s top pair. With the obvious need in Toronto, the Leafs GM is lucky to have so many targets to ponder. Now it just comes down to how much he’s willing to spend.