Once the roster freeze across the league is lifted on Thursday morning, it will mark the unofficial start to trade season in the NHL calendar. Up to this point, much has been made of the potential trade targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs, primarily centered around veteran defenseman Chris Tanev, currently with the Calgary Flames.
Instead of sorting through potential targets, Jonas Siegel of The Athletic wrote an article (subscription required article) examining the assets currently available to the Maple Leafs they will have to offer in any deal leading up to the trade deadline. Given the team’s current positioning in the standings and their liberal usage of draft selections in the past, Toronto’s first-round draft pick in the 2024 NHL Draft will likely be in play.
However, given the team’s recent history of trading first-round draft picks, there should be some considerable internal pushback in moving the asset once again. Since 2019, the Maple Leafs have used their first-round pick to acquire Jake Muzzin (2019), Nick Foligno (2021), Ryan O’Reilly (2023), Noel Acciari (2023), Jake McCabe (2025), and Sam Lafferty (2025). The team also traded their 2020 first-round selection to move Patrick Marleau to the Carolina Hurricanes, and their 2022 first-round selection to move Petr Mrazek to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Of the six players acquired by Toronto for first-round draft picks in the last six seasons, only one of them (McCabe) is still in the organization, as the rest have moved on to different organizations, or have seen their careers end. Keeping this in mind, if the Maple Leafs are to use their 2024 first-round draft pick as leverage for a trade this season, they would be much better served in acquiring a player with term.
- Heavily linked to Calgary center, Elias Lindholm, Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now indicates if the price for Lindholm remains high, the Boston Bruins may look to a recent trading partner in the Chicago Blackhawks to improve down the middle of the ice (article link). Murphy indicates that shortly after the roster freeze is lifted, Chicago will make center Tyler Johnson available for trade, also being able to retain salary in the deal. With a high amount of injury concern attached, Johnson may still be an effective buy-low middle-six option for the Bruins.
- After the recent extension given to defenseman Ben Hutton, Ken Boehlke of SinBin reports that more changes may be coming to the blue line of the Vegas Golden Knights. With seven defensemen already on the active roster, and with Shea Theodore and Kaedan Korczak both expected back at some point, Boehlke notes the Golden Knights may be inclined to move out defenseman Alec Martinez. The moving out of Martinez would open up space in the defensive core as well as cap space for an additional upgrade elsewhere.