One low-cost difference maker that the Leafs should pursue at the deadline

Published December 26, 2022 at 10:50
BY MIKE ARMENTI
When looking at the landscape of the rental market for this year's trade deadline, there are a few top candidates like Patrick Kane, Bo Horvat and Ryan O'Rielly who are expected to draw a lot of attention and a likely bidding war. The problem with acquiring any of these players is not just the cost of their respective contracts, but also the lofty acquisition costs to acquire them.

Leafs GM Kyle Dubas has often looked to acquire players under team control in the past and while it would be nice to see him take a big swing on an impact rental, there are a handful of intriguing options with some team control remaining that both would not break the bank and which may actually cost a little less to acquire than one of the sexier rental names. One stands out above all the rest to me.

Troy Terry is a player who may not fit into the Anaheim Ducks' contention window. With a player like Terry likely not lining up with the longer-term interests of the organization, they could look to move him to continue to bolster their young core and build around the likes of Mason McTavish and Trevor Zegras.

At 25 years-of-age, Terry is in his prime, just as many of the Leafs' young stars. As such, he does fit very well into the Leafs' contention window. He is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of this season and while he does have arbitration rights his $1.45M AAV and $1.55M actual salary could potentially help the Leafs to either keep his AAV lower on a short-term deal or fight for a modest increase in salary in any arbitration award.


In terms of this season, the Leafs would have no problem taking on Terry's full cap hit. Having said that, a deal for Terry may get a bit trickier moving forward. With the salary cap not expected to rise much this summer, there is certainly a risk involved with arbitration. However, the possibility also exists that, should the Leafs acquire Terry, they could also flip him following their playoff run to avoid getting stuck with a higher-than-expected arbitration award.

In terms of the player himself, Terry has really come into his own over the last two seasons. Last season, he posted a whopping 37 goals and 30 assists for a total of 67 points in 75 games played. So far this season, Terry has seemingly picked up right where he left off, amassing 12 goals and 29 points in 35 games.

Terry does have some versatility, playing both center and wing - though he is a primary winger. With the Leafs' bottom six having struggled so much on the scoresheet, adding someone like Terry to the bottom six could help by adding another scoring threat on the third line. In addition, his takeaway to giveaway ratio this season is 30/16, for a +14 differential. He's also on pace to surpass his previous career high in shots on goal of 192 in 2021-22. He has 107 shots already this season with more than half of the season yet to be played.

As far as what a potential deal for Terry looks like, he may not come cheap, but he'll very likely come cheaper than a Kane or a Horvat. It's likely that the Ducks are going to demand a 1st round pick and if a team isn't willing to pay that, it will likely be a non-starter. But while Kane, Horvat and O'Reilly might all warrant a top prospect as well, it's safe to say that Terry would not draw the same type of return. A secondary piece for a player like Terry could end up being a middling-to-good prospect or a mid-round pick. With the Leafs having a ton of prospects either NHL-ready or very close, I could see them being amenable to parting with someone like a Nick Abruzzese or a Semyon Der-Arguchintsev for the right piece - the equivalent of a 3rd or 4th rounder.

The real question is, since Terry is still a controllable asset, how much beyond a 1st and a 3rd/4th (or equivalent) would it take to get the deal done?
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