Count the Toronto Maple Leafs among the teams expected to be active come the trade deadline.
General manager Kyle Dubas is on record as stating he’s okay with parting with a top prospect, so Toronto is definitely all-in when it comes to making a run.
But the pandemic has added the not-so-small wrinkle of a two-week quarantine on any player arriving to Canada from the United States. That makes trading a roster or taxi squad player a calculated risk, especially if clubs wait right up until the April 12 deadline.
There is an outside chance that the quarantine rules chance ahead of the trade deadline, but it wouldn’t be wise to hedge bets on that.
So, Dubas and the Maple Leafs may have to make a move soon if they want to maximize their results ahead of a playoff run.
“The player is going to come in and sit for 14 days in their hotel, we’re going to be in a tougher spot to get the most out of it that we can,” Dubas said. “To only be with the team for about six games and 10 days (prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs after quarantining), it certainly provides incentives to make the moves earlier but it takes two to make that happen, though.”
The general manager cleared space in the off-season by trading Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, so the Maple Leafs are well-positioned enough to swing something. The target is at the forward position, preferably a top-six left winger. Rumours have Toronto in on the likes of Rickard Rakell or Mikael Granlund in particular.
Toronto has a good prospect base to sweeten the pot, including Rodion Amirov, Nicholas Robertson, and Rasmus Sandin.
“Defence and goaltending on our team are a little bit more stable but in the summer, we had to move out some forwards who were good for us in order to add on the backend and thus we feel like that’s an area where we may want to look at a little bit more,” said Dubas. “I’m not precluding anything at this point, but I’d say most of the conversations are focused on forwards right now.”
Goaltending could be an issue if Toronto loses confidence in Jack Campbell as a backup. Injuries have disrupted his season and could be a problem over the long haul, especially since Frederik Andersen has struggled to maintain solid numbers.
Up next, Toronto hosts the Calgary Flames on Friday. The 19-9-2 Maple Leafs are still first in the North Division, four points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.