Trusted NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Insider says Leafs open to moving 1st round pick in blockbuster trade

Published February 8, 2024 at 11:51

The Toronto Maple Leafs don't have a whole lot of draft capital at the front of the next 3 drafts after having dealt their next 3 second round picks, their 2024 3rd round pick and their 2025 1st round pick. In fact, if they were to deal this year's 1st round pick, they'd have just one pick in the top two rounds in the next 3 straight drafts. As we all know, it's kind of difficult to continue to produce NHL talent when you aren't drafting in the early rounds.

When a team is in "win-now" mode, they often part ways with high picks and prospects to acquire difference-makers at the deadline in hopes of making a push for a Stanley Cup. Unfortunately for the Leafs, giving up a lot of assets to wash out in rounds 1 and 2 has been a recurring theme. This year, they're hoping to change that one way or another.

During his most recent edition of 32 Thoughts, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman revealed that the Leafs are leaning towards holding onto their 1st round pick. The one caveat here, which could result in the Leafs trading the pick, is if they're landing both Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin from the Calgary Flames. Obviously, such a deal would involve a lot of pieces and may also require the Leafs to move out some salary, but the thought of adding two defensemen of that quality is certainly enticing.

"One exception [to trading their 1st round pick] may be Toronto. If the Maple Leafs trade this year's first, they will have one pick in the top two rounds of the next three drafts (a first-rounder in 2026). It's not impossible they decide to move it, but they definitely prefer the opposite and aren't interested in moving Easton Cowan, Matthew Knies or Fraser Minten (their most asked-about youth).

One case where I do believe they would have done so is if they had acquired both Chris Tanev and Nikita Zadorov, as they tried before the latter's move to the Lions Gate Bridge. There's no doubt in my mind the Maple Leafs want Tanev, but Calgary is holding to see if that first-rounder comes into play. It's poker, but if Toronto really wanted to do that, it would be done already. We will see. He would help them, and they know it. (Maybe Toronto solves this by trying to trade for both Tanev and Noah Hanifin.) They are looking for another centre, as well." - Friedman on the Leafs perhaps going after Tanev and Hanifin in the same deal

Another interesting tidbit at the end there, with Friedman suggesting that the Leafs also may look to bolster their centre group. Of course, defense remains the priority, so we likely won't hear too much about centers until Brad Treliving has sorted out his blueline.

February 8   |   669 answers
Insider says Leafs open to moving 1st round pick in blockbuster trade

Should the Leafs keep their 2024 1st round pick or trade it?

Trade it. They're trying to win now18527.7 %
Keep it. They don't have a lot of picks24837.1 %
It depends heavily on the trade target23635.3 %
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