Intriguing connection to Brendan Shanahan could land Luke Evangelista in Toronto

Dean Chaudhry
May 30, 2024  (8:51)

Luke Evangelista and Ryan O'Reilly discussing a play before a face-off.
Photo credit: Christopher Hanewinckel- USA Today Sports

If the Maple Leafs are looking to address their depth, trading for Luke Evangelista could be a priority and it might help that he's also related to Brendan Shanahan.

Almost every insider within the NHL believes that the Toronto Maple Leafs will be breaking up their core one way or the other. There are several bumps along the way, primarily the fact that both John Tavares and Mitch Marner hold full no-movement clauses on top of their significant cap hits.
However, one way they can address their roster - and it's been their go-to model for quite some time - is by finding the perfect complementary depth pieces for their star forwards. The Leafs have a lot of skill up front, so they don't necessarily need to peruse the market for more 30-goal scorers. They need punch, dynamism, and a "punk-like" essence which can all be found in Nashville Predators' forward, Luke Evangelista.
"I describe him as, like, a punk," Preds forward Tommy Novak said of the backward-hat-wearing, cool-lingo-slinging, 22-year-old Evangelista. "A young punk."

6-foot-6, 232-pound teammate Michael McCarron won't soon forget the day in practice that the 6-foot, 183-pound Evangelista outmuscled him for a puck in the corner, forcing him to lose his balance for a moment. He won't forget, because that night, Evangelista sent him an Instagram post with a video of the exchange — which ended, unbeknownst to McCarron at the time, with Evangelista flexing over him like a pro wrestler.
"He's just an agitator, man. He's a good kid, I love him," McCarron said of Evangelista. "But that situation? I was pissed. But that's ‘Vange.' Ask anybody in here and they've got a story about him. Everybody's got one."

The 22-year-old from Toronto was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft after scoring 23 goals and 61 points in 62 games for the London Knights. With the CHL cancelling their season in 2020-21, Evangelista then played for the Chicago Wolves of the AHL before returning for one final season back with the Knights in 2021-22. He scored 55 goals and 111 points in 62 games before making the jump to the Predators organization in 2022-23.
In 49 games with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL, Evangelista scored 9 goals and 41 points in 49 games before a brief stint with the Predators that saw him light the lamp 7 times to go along with 8 assists in just 24 games. In his first full season at the NHL-level, Evangelista scored 16 goals and 39 points in 80 games, primarily in a bottom-6 role this year.
The Predators are seemingly in the middle of a re-tooling, but they managed to scrape their way into the playoffs this season. They have a lot of young talent within the pipeline that are just about ready to make their impact at the NHL-level, which could open the door for Evangelista to be moved. However, Barry Trotz is rather complementary of his 22-year-old and it might be tough to ensnare his services:
"He has a really good hockey IQ, a really good understanding of the offensive side of the game," Trotz said of Evangelista. "He just finds a way to create things."

Anyone who has either coached or played with him from either the junior leagues, AHL, or at the NHL-level have the same things to say about the youngster. He is someone you want in your locker room, he has the drive and the fire in his belly that he brings out in every single shift. He did however feel the brunt of Andrew Brunette who scratched him a few times in the middle of the season but he found a way to bounce back.
"Now he's going to get pucks," Brunette said of Evangelista. "When he does have the puck he's as dangerous as any guy in the league, I believe – when he's moving his feet. He wasn't on top of his game there for about two, two and a half months. Then he found it. And I think that's normal. A little bit of a sophomore slump if you want to say. But it was important he found it. I think now — at least (this was true) when I was a player — once you figure out what you need to do to get your game back, that's when you start maturing as a player."

He currently has one year remaining on his rookie contract with a cap hit of just 797,500$. The Predators won't be in any hurry to move on from Evangelista - who is also Brendan Shanahan's cousin - but there are only so many spots in the lineup.
With a slew of prospects ready to make their way to Nashville, can the Leafs pry the gifted youngster this summer to help address their biggest need?
Word on the street is that Marner is high on the wish list for the Nashville Predators and if the Leafs do end up dealing Marner to the Preds, you can bet your bottom dollar that Shanahan will urge GM Brad Treliving to have Evangelista included in the deal - not just because of their familial ties, but because he's an excellent young player who can bring a lot of what the Leafs are looking for with his tenacity, intelligence and attitude.
Source: Preds' Luke Evangelista brings surging rookie game, comedic 'agitator' style to Vancouver
MAY 30   |   265 ANSWERS
Intriguing connection to Brendan Shanahan could land Luke Evangelista in Toronto

Would trading for Luke Evangelista help the Maple Leafs in 2024-25?

Absolutely, he's exactly what they need8230.9 %
Not really, he's still young and inexperienced6926 %
I just don't see the Preds trading him11443 %
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