Insider suggests Leafs may go in unexpected direction at trade deadline

Published December 24, 2022 at 10:36
BY BEN HODGSON
Throughout this season, the biggest issue the Leafs have faced, apart from a seemingly endless stream of injuries, is finding a player to take the 2LW slot and run with it. So far, Alex Kerfoot, Denis Malgin, Nick Robertson, Pierre Engvall and Calle Jarnkrok have auditioned in that spot, but none have truly excelled. In fairness, Jarnkrok has looked promising in his limited time on the second line.

Many, including TSN's Jeff O'Neill, believe the Leafs will be targeting a left winger at or before the trade deadline. Timo Meier, Travis Konecny, Ryan O'Rielly, Boone Jenner and Max Domi are just a few of the many names being tossed around at this point. One insider, however, believes the Leafs will go a different route. Speaking on TSN's Leafs Breakfast, Darren Dreger suggested the Leafs may be targeting an upgrade on defense instead of a top 6 winger.

Dreger's rationele is that the Leafs' D corps isn't at the level of the Stanley Cup Champion Colorado Avalanche from last season. That's easy to say, there aren't many teams in the league that can compete with Cale Makar. When healthy, we should expect to see a left side of Morgan Rielly, Rasmus Sandin and Mark Giordano. The right side will be comprised of T.J. Brodie, Timothy Liljegren and Justin Holl. I would imagine if the Leafs went and got a defender, it would be someone to play the right side and possibly push Justin Holl out of the lineup. A deal for Jacob Chychrun would be a massive splash and a huge upgrade on D.

In this scenario, the Leafs would likely treat NCAA star Matthew Knies as their deadline add at LW. Knies is big, fast, skilled and physical. He should be able to break into the league quickly. I would still prefer that the Leafs add an experienced winger, however. Knies is undoubtedly good, but he's not a guarantee at the moment. On the other hand, Toronto's defense corps has proven that not only is it one of the better groups in the league, it's one of the deeper ones as well.


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