The Maple Leafs are willing to part with a first-round pick at the trade deadline for the right deal, GM Brad Treliving said Friday (via Jonas Siegel of The Athletic). That deal won’t take the form of a rental acquisition, as Treliving preached being “careful with first-round picks for short-term help,” which falls in line with the organization’s reported unwillingness to surrender one in a deal for former Flames blue-liner Chris Tanev, now traded to the Stars.
In terms of blue-line targets, that could include Capitals shutdown man Nick Jensen, who Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman said the Maple Leafs may have interest in on Friday’s “32 Thoughts” podcast episode. He’s having a down year offensively, with eight assists in 56 games, but he logs top-four minutes consistently. He’s also controlled possession quality well over the past few seasons in shutdown-only usage.
Jensen’s $4.05MM cap hit through 2026 may be too much term for Treliving’s liking, though, especially if the Capitals are averse to retaining salary. With Jensen locked up for a few more years, there’s also little incentive for Washington to move him while they’re in the middle of a playoff race unless a significant offer is tabled.
Other updates from the Leafs:
- Veteran defenseman Mark Giordano sustained a concussion when he crashed into the boards during the first period of yesterday’s 4-2 win over the Coyotes, head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed (via Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun). He has been designated for injured reserve before tomorrow’s game against the Rangers, opening the roster spot necessary for Ilya Lyubushkin after the team acquired him from the Ducks last night. The Leafs are hoping Lyubushkin can debut in his second stint with Toronto tomorrow if travel issues don’t pose any threats, Keefe said. If he makes it, he’s expected to be reunited with former partner Morgan Rielly. He would replace Giordano in the lineup and allow T.J. Brodie to slide back to his natural left side along with Jake McCabe on a shutdown second pairing.
- Another question mark for tomorrow is the health of Timothy Liljegren, who did not practice today but hasn’t been ruled out against the Rangers, Keefe said. Liljegren, 24, has now missed two games with an undisclosed injury but would provide the Leafs with two right-shot options if he and Lyubushkin are both okay to play. His return would push William Lagesson to the press box, and he would likely replace McCabe on the second pairing alongside Brodie. That duo was quite effective during Rielly’s recent five-game suspension, dominating possession play while shouldering top-pairing minutes. McCabe would then form a third pairing with Simon Benoit, giving Toronto perhaps their most well-rounded defense lineup of the season.
- Someone who could force an additional roster move is winger Calle Järnkrok, who practiced today and is nearing a return from a knuckle fracture that’s kept him out since late January. Keefe did not rule him out for tomorrow’s game, although he seems unlikely to return just yet. The Leafs will need to open a spot on the roster for his return, which could result in placing recent frequent healthy scratch Noah Gregor on waivers or demoting their lone waiver-exempt depth forward, Nicholas Robertson, to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies. Järnkrok replaced Robertson’s role in the lineup during line rushes at this morning’s practice, skating alongside Bobby McMann and captain John Tavares in his new third-line role.