Kyle Dubas, the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has been busy. In a flurry of moves ahead of the NHL trade deadline, he’s been moving defensemen in and (actually) moving some roster players out.
It looks as if it’s become pretty clear what the organization sees as the problem. Today alone, Dubas has moved to completely (almost) rebuilt the team’s defence and cleared some space in the forward units.
The question is: Will it work? Is this the kind of roster that can make a deep playoff run this season?
Trade Tracking for the Maple Leafs
In addition to moving Rasmus Sandin out to the Washington Capitals with Erik Gustafsson coming in that same trade, Dubas had already made other moves last week. He had (even before today’s buzz) brought in Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Jake McCabe, and Sam Lafferty. In doing so, he had given up several draft picks.
However, Dubas had not – until today – been willing to move roster players. Today, the rules changed. Both Rasmus Sandin and Pierre Engvall are gone. Engvall was traded to the New York Islanders for a 2024 third-round pick and (as noted earlier) Sandin for Erik Gustafsson and a draft choice.
Then in a trade I had hoped would happen, Luke Schenn was acquired from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2023 third-round draft pick.
Why Move Engvall?
The best guess is that Dubas decided to trade Engvall to the Islanders because he was unlikely to re-sign him at the end of the season. Not that Engvall wasn’t valued, but those sneaky salary cap constraints were going to rise up and bite the team. As Dubas looked forward, he likely realized that his money was best spent by prioritizing other forwards like Michael Bunting.
Engvall is a skilled player, but he teased more with the skills he had than he delivered. He’s likely to become a solid middle-six forward for the Islanders. It was a good trade for New York and a necessary trade for Toronto.
Why Bring in Schenn?
To me, Luke Schenn was the kind of player the team needed. He’s a physical, stay-at-home defenseman who’ll add experience and toughness to the team’s blue line. He’s played in over 750 NHL games and has a reputation for being a big hitter. He also stands up for his teammates.
He’ll likely take Sandin’s place in the lineup. There, he’ll provide the kind of reliability the team needs on its bottom pairing.
Bold Moves by Dubas for One Big Postseason Run?
Dubas isn’t afraid to make bold moves as a way to improve his team’s chances of playoff success. Although only time will tell if these moves will pay off, it certainly makes the next few weeks interesting for Maple Leafs’ fans.