The right-handed defencemen trade market is littered with options for the Leafs

  1. 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:

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:

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.

What should we expect from Oliver Kylingtons next contract with the Calgary Flames

When he accepted the promotion to become general manager of the Calgary Flames, Craig Conroy inherited seven players slated to become unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2023-24 season. Since then, four of those situations have been resolved – Mikael Backlund signed an extension, while Tyler Toffoli, Nikita Zadorov and Elias Lindholm were traded.

With Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev widely expected to be moved before the trade deadline, that leaves Oliver Kylington as the lone piece of unfinished business.

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Canucks Arshdeep Bains assesses first week in NHL Im not completely satisfied

One week ago, Arshdeep Bains had yet to play a game in the National Hockey League. Recalled from Abbotsford by the Vancouver Canucks for the first time on February 16th, Bains has just come through a whirlwind week that included his NHL debut, having his father experience it as part of the Canucks mentors trip, road games in Colorado and Seattle and his first home game – and first win – against the Boston Bruins.

It’s been a lot to process. But it’s also been a dream come true and everything Bains had hoped for when he signed with the Canucks as a free agent two years ago.

The 23-year-old got the opening face-off assignment in his first game in Denver and, by his second game, had been promoted to play alongside JT Miller and Brock Boeser.

On Saturday, the rookie found himself with new linemates for the third straight game, skating alongside Elias Lindholm and Conor Garland. That’s where he was slotted again at Sunday’s practice at Rogers Arena.

Through three games, Bains has averaged 12:33 of ice time, has registered three shots, four hits and taken a pair of penalties. There has been a lot to like in his game, but there’s still plenty of room to grow that game. And Bains isn’t satisfied to simply be in the NHL. He wants to make sure he stays in the best league in the world.

“I’m not completely satisfied if I’m being honest,” Bains said matter of factly when asked to assess his play. “I feel like I can do a little bit better. But at the same time, I’m pretty proud of the way I’ve been playing. There’s more for me to give and that’s the exciting thing. I feel like I’ve had some looks, some scoring chances, there’s been some opportunity there and I’m getting good ice time. I think it should be a good recipe if I keep heading this way and good things should happen.”

Bains is still looking for his first NHL point, but isn’t letting that weigh on him in any way. He knows production will come if he continues to do the things that earned him this opportunity in the first place.

One of the things that excites Bains most about his first week on the job is that he hasn’t felt out of place and hasn’t been swallowed up by the moment at any point despite sharing the ice with the likes of Nathan MacKinnon and Brad Marchand, among others. And Bains says he likes the fact he’s been able to play his game at the NHL level.

“At times, I feel like I can really make plays and be smart with the puck and use my work ethic and speed,” he explained. “At times, I’m maybe a bit behind the play. But that’s just the learning curve. When you first come to this league, it’s a tough jump. For me, at all levels, it takes me a little bit of time to learn about the speed and how it works. Hopefully, I’ll hit the ground running here.”

Bains has already caught the attention of the man that matters most: Rick Tocchet.

The Canucks head coach’s eyes lit up when presented a question about what he’s seen from Bains through his first three NHL games.

“I’m a big fan, I like him a lot,” Tocchet raved. “I think there’s another level. He’s earned his spot right now. I don’t know how long it’s going to be. Maybe it’s the rest of the year, but he’s earned his spot. I know guys enjoy playing with him. I’ve had a couple of players come up to me individually and say ‘hey, don’t be afraid to throw him on my line.’ I think that’s the ultimate compliment for that kid. A lot of players want to play with him. But he’s also doing the little things that I love. He’s really good on the forecheck, he can handle the puck and he’s not scared. He gets inside.”

Bains took the coach’s praise in stride when informed of the positive feedback.

“That’s special that he says that,” Bains said. “He talked to me today. I’m just trying to earn each day and not take it for granted. I think the coaches believe in me, the players believe in me as well. If I can help this team win, that’s all I can ask for.”

Asked about the bond he’s formed in relatively short order with JT Miller, Bains was quick to gush about the Canucks scoring leader.

“He’s a hell of a player,” he said. “He’s a leader. He’s taken me under his wing a little bit. You’re going to have a good game if you play with him. He’s a really smart player. Him and Boes (Brock Boeser). It was awesome that they let me play with them (in Seattle).”

It’s remarkable for all that Arshdeep Bains has experienced in his first week in the NHL, Sunday was the first time he’d participated in a full practice with the Canucks. Between a gruelling travel schedule and the fact Friday’s practice was altered to optional status and didn’t include many of the team’s leaders, Bains had the chance to work with the eight coaches on the ice Sunday to hone his game.

There is an adjustment from the American Hockey League, for sure. But Bains feels like he’s adjusting well to everything that has been thrown his way.

“The game is faster for sure, but the guys are also faster and getting open and there’s people to find,” he said. “It’s fast and that’s the way I want to play the game. It’s good for me. It’s a good jump, but I think I’m handling it pretty well and I’ve got more to give here.”

Based on Sunday’s practice, the Canucks gave every indication that Bains will remain in the line-up for the team’s next game on Tuesday against Pittsburgh. If Arshdeep Bains hasn’t had his ‘pinch me’ moment yet, then certainly going up against Sidney Crosby will drive home the fact that he’s exactly where he wants to be.

NHL Notebook Alberta selected as host for 2027 World Junior Championship and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov becomes first player to reach 100 points in 2023-24

The World Juniors are coming back to Alberta.

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The Maple Leafs have loaned Max Lajoie to the Marlies

The Leafs appear to be getting one step closer to seeing some regulars return to the fold as Max Lajoie was loaned to the Marlies this afternoon.

He was initially brought up last week after Mark Giordano had to step away from the team after the sudden passing of his father.  Lajoie played in three games during that stretch before being a healthy scratch after Morgan Rielly and William Lagesson were cleared to return.

He has appeared in seven games for the Leafs so far this season with one assist. In the AHL by contrast, Lajoie has recorded 17 points (two goals and 15 assists) in 31 games played.

As alluded to earlier, Lajoie going back to the Marlies likely means the Leafs are about to see more of their regulars return to the fold. Giordano did not play this past week and appears to be on track to return for Toronto’s tilt against the Golden Knights on Tuesday. They will also need to keep in mind that Calle Jarnkrok and Joseph Woll could soon be available again and that means another roster move will have to be made to fit all three players back onto the roster.

Some may suspect that Pontus Holmberg could get sent down since he does not require waivers to pass through, but he has been playing well of late and should instead continue to get a longer look with the Leafs. Martin Jones might need to be placed on waivers to make room for Woll, but Toronto is better off leaving him up given how desperate a lot of teams are for goalies and the uncertainty about how Woll will do once he returns. Nick Robertson has also found his groove so he should also remain with the big club despite him also not needing waivers.

That leaves Noah Gregor as the prime candidate to get sent down to clear a path for Giordano, Woll, and Jarnkrok to return. Despite possessing incredible speed, Gregor has not provided much else to warrant an extended stay in the lineup and has struggled mightily for weeks so putting him on waivers would make sense.

No matter which direction the Leafs choose, Lajoie getting sent down is the prelude to another roster move that will be forthcoming in short order. Toronto will look to extend their winning streak to eight when they host Vegas on Tuesday, with puck drop scheduled for 7 p.m. EST.

 

Inside the Green Mens epic return to Rogers Arena, and whats next for the spandex-wearing Canucks fans

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard of the Green Men, the second-skin bodysuit-wearing Canucks fans who, for years, terrorized opposing players from beside the visitor’s penalty box with their creative shenanigans.

Their antics from 2009-2015 landed them a spot in ESPN’s Hall of Fans, and as we saw when they returned to Rogers Arena last night, in the hearts and memories of Canucks fans everywhere.

Under the Spandex

The men under the iconic green suits are Adam Forsythe (Force), and Ryan Sullivan (Sully) — two friends who met in their early 20s while attending BCIT’s broadcasting program in 2008.

“In 2009, we were selected to go do a six week internship at TSN in Toronto,” Forsythe told CanucksArmy. “So we went out there and like we didn’t know anyone, we didn’t have friends out there or family. So during that time, we were just like, hanging out over drinks and then we were like, ‘oh, we should wear these green suits that we saw on the show It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, like go to a Seahawks game with a bunch of our BCIT classmates. So we bought like 10 tickets, and we were going to tell our friends that we were gonna wear the green suits, and then just try to embarrass them essentially. And then the day of the game, Sully’s suit didn’t arrive in the mail on time. So I gave him s*** for it, I was like, ‘oh man, like I spent 60 bucks on the suit!’

“And he’s like, ‘well, my dad has access to these seats right beside the penalty box at Canucks games, do you want to go just once to see what happens?’ And so we went and security hassled us and we weren’t even sure we were gonna get into the building. They finally relented, but they warned us like, ‘if you do anything, we’ll kick you out.’ And then, by the end of the game, cops and security were taking photos with us, and we had requests to be on every news outlet, and then it just took off from there.”

And take off from there it did.

Forsythe and Sullivan were in their usual perch next to the opposition’s penalty box for the better part of seven years before retiring in 2015. Sullivan moved away from Vancouver, and both green men are now married. Sullivan has two young children, while Forsythe is expecting his first child, a baby girl, in June. So how did these two find their way back into the spandex and back to Rogers Arena?

The Return

Just over eight years since their last appearance at a Canucks game, the Green Men made their long-awaited return, with the moment perfectly executed with the help of PA announcer Al Murdoch and of course, Stone Cold Steve Austin’s iconic entrance music.

“The Canucks started asking us a couple years back if we’d ever be interested in returning. And at that point, we were like, ‘honestly, we’re retired.’ We had a really fun send-off where we travelled all around BC and visited the WHL teams and stuff like that, and we kind of liked the ending. And then Sully also moved away; he lived in Halifax for a couple of years, and now he’s living in Saskatoon. He works in the radio business as an FM radio DJ. And then in October, the Canucks said, ‘Hey, like, we’ll do whatever we can to get you guys to a game. You pick the game, and we’ll fly Sully out and put him up in a hotel. And so we looked at the schedule and were like, ‘Man that Boston game in February is pretty tempting. A four o’clock start on Hockey Night in Canada, everyone’s gonna see it.”

“At first, [the Canucks] said like, ‘Can you guys just come back and go to the seats?’ and we said no, if we come back, we want to do it right. So we said, ‘How do we time it where we can just enter into the Stone Cold music?’ That was kind of our priority. And they said, ‘Well, let’s wait until the first TV timeout after the 14 minute mark, and then we’re gonna play a little montage video for you, Al Murdoch’s gonna do the voice of God little quick intro and then the Stone Cold music and then you guys run down to the seats and we said ‘that sounds awesome, let’s do it.’

“They had the curtains closed so no one could see us and then we ran in. The timing could not have been better because JVR had just taken that penalty. Like it couldn’t have been better, and he obviously could see it coming because we sprinted down to the seats, and you could tell he was trying so hard not to laugh. So yeah, that nervous energy just turned into excitement the second we saw JVR there, and then, of course, the rest of the game, there’s like no goals, no penalties. I felt like they were playing the most disciplined game of all time. After the penalty in OT the Canucks called a timeout, so we had a full two minutes to mess with Trent Frederic, it was perfect.”

A top priority for the return was keeping it a secret, so with the exception of their wives, Sully and Force managed to keep the return a surprise by not telling any of their other family or friends. This, as you might have guessed, resulted in a “mountain of texts” waiting for them after the game.

The Green Men had their moment, and their return was made even more special thanks to the Canucks’ thrilling third-period comeback that was capped off by Brock Boeser’s overtime-winning goal. Unfortunately, it may be the last time for a while that fans get to see the Green Men at Rogers Arena.

What’s Next?

“As it stands right now, it’s a one-and-done,” Forsythe added. “Sully lives in Saskatoon, and he’s got a wife, he’s got two little girls, and he’s got a full-time Monday to Friday job, so it’s really hard for him to jump back and forth. We’re not ruling out a playoff return. The Canucks have already asked us if we’d be interested, but I don’t know.

“Again, I think last night’s return is another cool send-off. I’m not saying no, but as of right now, we have nothing planned, and that’s being completely honest.”

While attending another game is undetermined, the perfection of last night’s return clearly has the Green Men wanting to return sooner rather than later. And given how Saturday’s game went, Canucks fans will certainly want the Green Men back in their normal post when playoff games return to Rogers Arena for the first time in nearly ten years this spring.

“We were always interested in returning for one game before disappearing again, but after the reception we received last night, we definitely aren’t ruling out a return.”

Reverse Mailbag Do you trust Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard

Welcome back to the Reverse Mailbag!
Every week, I post a link to five questions on my Twitter account (@LiamHorrobin). By responding, you could be featured in this piece. The Reverse Mailbag will come out every weekend with your thoughts on the Edmonton Oilers and other topics from around the NHL.
This time, I’ve asked about playing Warren Foegele in the top six, whether you trust in the Oilers’ goaltending tandem, and touched on a whole lot more trade speculation.

Should Edmonton play Warren Foegele in the top six more often?

If he can stay consistent – Geeks

Second line with Leon. Let’s let RNH-97-18 be. – Browndalorian

Yes – Matt Coulter

Warren can skate and hit and has size and tenacity. Finishing is correlated to confidence and given a chance, yes, but like many players given top 6 opportunities, the moment they fail to finish, they are demoted. He can, but he should be given five games to find out. – DanielByTheLake

I’m at 100% if you can’t get a top six RW. Ken Holland could check down and get some depth, and Foegele is serviceable in the top six in spot duty. – Lance Kane

Only in necessity – Sherwood Trooper

Most definitely – Andy Pandy

What would you trade to acquire Jake Guentzel?

If he has a dog, I’ll volunteer to dog sit 24/7 – Geeks

Bourgault, Nemo, a first, and Ceci – Browndalorian

First rounder, Lavoie, and Foegele. I am not sure how the money works. A 3rd to someone else to retain half? – Matt Coulter

Not Broberg. With the coming contract scenarios, we cannot afford him unless we trade away a top six forward. – DanielByTheLake

I don’t know, but it starts with a first. Personally, I don’t see how the money works. But it is possible – Lance Kane

Never going to happen – Sherwood Trooper

Do you trust Stuart Skinner and Calvin Pickard?

Skinner yes, Pickard. Meh. I’m not sure how he can handle the tough teams. – Geeks

It depends on the day, but I’d like to see the Oilers get Fleury just for some backup stability come playoffs. – Browndalorian

I’d like to see Calvin Pickard start consecutive games. Not in back-to-backs, just consecutive. – Matt Coulter

My biggest concern. Trusting them is trusting the team to play top-shelf defence consistently. I like them both, but I am nervous about Skinner’s ability to start a four-series run, as he has shown that after five to seven games, he loses his “focus.” You can also say the same about his teammates on their defensive responsibilities. It is a correlation of trust between them both that go hand in hand. – DanielByTheLake

To me, Skinner is Elite. He will get the Conn Smyth – Lance Kane

We should give Pickard more games, Stu is being overworked, and it’s showing in recent games. – Sherwood Trooper

Yes – Andy Pandy

Who’s a player nobody talks about that you’d like to see the Oilers acquire?

Sidney Crosby 😉 – Geeks

Justin Schultz and Anthony Duclair – Browndalorian