Top Leafs defensive prospect Topi Niemela
Photo credit: Thomas Skrlj - Toronto Marlies

Leafs and Blue Jackets on the cusp of swinging a trade?

Published March 1, 2024 at 6:17 PM

With the trade deadline one week away (next Friday, March 8th), trade talks are intensifying around the league. This is leading to high ranking executives around the NHL attending games in person, doing some scouting of their own in hopes of constructing the perfect trade for their organization.

Columbus Blue Jackets President and Interim General Manager John Davidson is doing his own due diligence by attending games, including looking closely at the Toronto Marlies to see if there are any Maple Leaf prospects worth trading for.

Three standout names that Davidson may consider trading for are rookie breakout candidate Ryan Tverberg, AHL all-star forward Alex Steeves, and top rookie prospect right-hand defenseman Topi Niemela, just to name a few.

22-year-old Ryan Tverberg is in his first full season with the Toronto Marlies and is having a breakout season. The 2020 7th round pick is at almost a point per game with 8 goals, 20 assists and a total of 28 points in 35 games. He brings speed, tenacity and excellent vision, which are all desirable qualities to an NHL GM.

24-year-old Alex Steeves has been a standout in his first three seasons with the Toronto Marlies. The undrafted forward can score goals, kill penalties, set up plays, and does a little bit of everything when on the ice. He's at about a point per game with his third straight 19+ goal season and has 24 assists, 43 points in 44 games.

Finally, the most intriguing of the three, 21-year-old Topi Niemela is a top right-hand defensive prospect in his first full season with the Toronto Marlies. The 2020 3rd round pick is putting up some eye catching numbers on the Marlies blueline this season with 6 goals, 22 assists and 28 points in 48 games. He plays a strong and smooth game in his own zone while transitioning the puck out of the defensive zone with ease. He also has solid offensive instincts and a good shot from the blueline.

With Maple Leafs top prospects Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten off the table as trade candidates, we may see one of the three listed above as centerpieces for a trade that brings Toronto a top-four defenseman. Time will tell.
March 1   |   650 answers
Leafs and Blue Jackets on the cusp of swinging a trade?

Which Leafs prospect would you be okay with trading for a top-four defenseman?

Alex Steeves33150.9 %
Ryan Tverberg18528.5 %
Topi Niemela13420.6 %
Any, just bring home a top-4 D00 %
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