What area(s) in the lineup do you think the Maple Leafs should try to improve this deadline and how could they make it happen i.e. cap issues, lack of assets, etc.? — @uberXL5
The Toronto Maple Leafs need a big, physical yet mobile, shot blocking, penalty killing, warrior-type on their backend. They probably need more than one, but let’s start with one. That is and should be their focus in advance of the 2024 NHL Trade Deadline on March 8.
The fixation is likely with Calgary Flames defenseman Chris Tanev, who is in the final season of a four-year, $18 million contract ($4.5 million AAV) and can become an unrestricted free agent. Tanev played under Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving the previous three seasons in Calgary, when Treliving was Flames GM and signed Tanev on Oct. 9, 2020. Treliving loved him then, and even though he’s 34, there’s zero reason not to think he could be a perfect fit for the Maple Leafs now. He is averaging 19:42 of ice time and leads the Flames in blocked shots (142) and short-handed time on ice per game (2:40) in 47 games.
To acquire Tanev, it might cost the Maple Leafs their first-round pick in the 2024 NHL Draft, especially if they’re going to need the Flames to retain some salary. They do not have a second-round pick. The problem is they also don’t have a first- or second-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft. Do they really want to put themselves in a position to potentially not have a pick in the first two rounds of the next two drafts? It’s a price you pay if you think you can win the Stanley Cup this season, but Tanev doesn’t put them over the top.
The Maple Leafs still need their forwards to defend better. They still need to play a more attentive game at times. Their goaltending is still a mystery. Even with Tanev it’s hard to think they can win a bruising Stanley Cup Playoff series against the Boston Bruins or Florida Panthers, but they have to try, whether it’s with Tanev or someone else. Their window is open. Their stars are in their primes. They need help on defense.