Ilya Lyubushkin
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Insider addresses Leafs' deadline additions and awards a surprising grade for their moves

Published March 11, 2024 at 12:29

Coming into a new week, there are mixed feelings about the Toronto Maple Leafs after what they did or did not do at the trade deadline on Friday. In the end, after adding Ilya Lyubushkin about a week before the deadline and Joel Edmundson the day before the deadline, the Leafs added just one player on Friday, completing a trade for Connor Dewar from the Minnesota Wild to help the bottom six and the struggling penalty kill.

Some see these moves as helpful deals to check a few boxes at the deadline, and with what we heard from Brad Treliving this week, some have certainly agreed with his sentiments that if the Leafs are going to go anywhere in the playoffs, they'll have to do so on the backs of the Core 4 and Morgan Rielly. Treliving believes that the answers are already in the room, and so with the moves he made before the deadline, it was more about augmenting what the Leafs already have rather than trying to bring in a piece that would change the dynamic in the room.

Former Leaf Carlo Colaiacovo made a very bold claim on Monday when he gave the Leafs a "B" grade for their moves ahead of the deadline, all things considered. Surprisingly, TSN Hockey Insider Darren Dreger agreed with the grade, suggesting that he doesn't see how anyone would award the Leafs with a grade below a B, when you factor in the market on Friday.

"I think that's fair. I wouldn't go lower than a B, because you do have to analyze the market and I don't think that fans fully appreciate what that means. It was curious to me in looking at what the Winnipeg Jets did in acquiring Tyler Toffoli on Friday and some of the feedback on social media [was] 'why didn't our team match that? We could have done this, we could have done that'. It's not that simple and that's not really how it works.

When you look at the players who were acquired, as an example, and there were a lot of them acquired for 2nd round picks as a part of the package. Well, as we've established time and time again here, guys, Brad Treliving didn't have a 2nd round draft pick, so automatically, that takes him out of a certain number of conversations. Was there a want to get better? Sure, but as soon as Chris Tanev went to Dallas, then Treliving switched over to Ilya Lyubushkin and the Anaheim Ducks and I would argue that the Maple Leafs are better with Ilya Lyubushkin on that side.

Joel Edmundson, I don't know, I think he's serviceable. I think he's a high-character guy, he's a quality defenseman. Again, he's going to make them better, so I didn't have any issue with the two defense, and I think that, again, a lot of people have looked at Connor Dewar and really not know the type of player that Connor Dewar is and can be, because they probably didn't watch a ton of Minnesota Wild games. He's an effective forward. He is. He's solid defensively, can help you on the penalty kill, and he's got a little bit of bite in his game and so I think the Maple Leafs did as well as they could and they didn't give up that 1st round draft pick - and it wasn't that they were vehemently opposed to trading the 1st. There wasn't a player available that would have made Toronto that much better that was worth throwing that 1st round draft pick or a better prospect into the equation.

It's not like Treliving didn't have those conversations, but at the end of the day, the fit just wasn't there."

Whether these moves will or won't help the Leafs to achieve some success in the postseason is still up for debate, but there's no arguing that the Leafs will sink or swim based on what the Core 4 and Morgan Rielly do for them. To be fair, that's how it should be. When Tampa was on its back-to-back Cup runs, it was Kucherov, Point, Hedman, Vasilevskiy and the other stars who propelled them forward. It wasn't Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow who steered the ship. Yes, they were helpful pieces, but the Bolts won because their stars showed up, which is what this Leafs core needs to do.

At the end of the day, I tend to agree that the Leafs are better on paper now than they were before the deadline. No, the adds they made were not the biggest names out there, but they are serviceable pieces who addressed clear needs on the team - Lyubushkin being a right-shot, Edmundson being 6'5 with a very long reach, and Dewar with his tenacity, defensive play and PK abilities. I tend to agree with the "B" grade, personally and you can feel free to disagree, but you have to at least acknowledge that the pieces they brought in serve a purpose and are not just vanity adds.

March 11   |   388 answers
Insider addresses Leafs' deadline additions and awards a surprising grade for their moves

How would you grade the Leafs' trade deadline, given the 3 additions they made in Lyubushkin, Edmundson and Dewar?

A297.5 %
B17845.9 %
C18146.6 %
D or lower00 %
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