The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Jordan Schmaltz from the St. Louis Blues in exchange for Andreas Borgman. The deal does not include any other assets. Schmaltz is in the final season of a two-year contract signed in 2018, while Borgman was just signed to a one-year two-way deal in March.
Basically, this is a fresh start for two players who were buried on their respective depth charts. Despite including a first-round pick and an SHL Rookie of the Year, neither club might actually be getting any actual NHL games out of the deal. In Schmaltz’ case, the 25-year old has never lived up to his draft billing as the 25th overall pick in 2012 and has just 42 NHL games under his belt with the Blues. He has been a solid contributor at the minor leagues, but has been passed over time and again by other players in the Blues system including most recently by Mitch Reinke, who was outstanding in his first season of professional hockey.
In Toronto though, Schmaltz represents some much-needed depth on defense simply because he is right-handed. Toronto previously had just Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci and Justin Holl as right-handed options with NHL experience in the entire organization, meaning they needed to find someone else just in case they face injury. Head coach Mike Babcock has been clear in the past that his preference is playing defensemen on their strong side—except perhaps in the case of Ron Hainsey, who played the right side of Morgan Rielly the last two seasons. Schmaltz may actually have a shot at making the NHL roster out of camp because of this lack of depth, especially because Travis Dermott is expected to start on injured reserve thanks to shoulder surgery.
For Borgman, this could also represent a better opportunity to make it to the NHL, though he shouldn’t hold his breath. More likely the Blues wanted a player who was still waiver-exempt and on a two-way deal, in order to fill out their depth in the minor leagues. Borgman could potentially be an injury replacement at some point this season, but given the Blues retained their entire Stanley Cup-winning blue line while also adding Derrick Pouliot, it will be tough sledding to find much ice time.
Interestingly, both players will qualify for Group VI unrestricted free agency next summer if they don’t get some time in the NHL this year. Borgman needs 32 games to keep him a restricted free agent, while Schmaltz would need 38.