Former Leafs defenseman traded to Western Conference bottom-feeder

Published August 19, 2023 at 10:23
BY RYAN SMITHERAM

The Leafs were in need of some physicality on the blueline a couple seasons ago and had an underperforming Nick Ritchie signed to a terrible contract. As he normally did, former GM Kyle Dubas corrected a mistake by trading Ritchie to Arizona for Ilya Lyubushkin.

Lyubushkin came in and was originally expected to play on the Leafs' 3rd pair. Instead, he wound up on the top pair next to Morgan Rielly. He didn't look terrible, but also didn't look great, but managed to almost double his salary last off-season when he hit free agency signing a 2-year deal with Buffalo worth $2.75M per season.

As fate would have it, Lyubushkin won't finish his contract with the Sabres. He was traded to Anaheim late last night. In exchange, the Sabres got a 2025 4th round pick that Anaheim had previously acquired when they dealt John Klingberg to Minnesota at last season's trade deadline.

With the influx of young talent on the blueline in Buffalo, Lyubushkin was the odd man out. The Ducks are in a similar position, but are further behind in their rebuild than the Sabres, so they will benefit more from having a few veteran defensemen on the back end to buy them some more time before a few of their young defensive prospects step in to take the reins.


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