Toronto Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas held his midseason availability today as the team enjoys a few off days in a row and was asked many questions about the upcoming trade deadline. Dubas admitted that most of his talks have been about forwards and that the Canadian quarantine protocols will push him to make a deal sooner rather than later, but one answer was quite clear. When asked if he was willing to trade a top prospect at this year’s deadline, Dubas flatly responded “yes” with no further explanation. For a manager that always seems to have time to expand on an answer, that was telling.
While there may be some debate as to which are considered “top prospects” in the Maple Leafs system, names like Nicholas Robertson, Rasmus Sandin, and Rodion Amirov are likely among them. It could also perhaps include Timothy Liljegren, the 17th overall pick from 2017, but his status in the Maple Leafs organization isn’t exactly clear as he continues to be denied many opportunities at the NHL level. Darren Dreger of TSN lists those four together and suggests they are in the same category as the team’s first-round pick this year, available for a “near perfect fit.”
Dubas, who has usually spoken out against the idea of acquiring rentals at the deadline, also mentioned that this season may be one that it is considered, thanks to a squeezed cap moving forward. The Maple Leafs are also obviously viewing themselves as contenders in the North Division and perhaps see this as a real opportunity to advance deep in the playoffs—something they haven’t been able to do for so long.
The team doesn’t have much cap flexibility to work with at this year’s deadline, though sending out some money could solve that problem. If they are willing to move a top prospect or high draft pick as well, Toronto will have to be considered on basically any of the high-end rentals this year. Just a few days ago our PHR community voted Taylor Hall as the top rental available, with names like Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal, and Kyle Palmieri all coming in on the next tier. Any of those forwards might have an impact for Toronto, though each come with their own complications.