Minnesota Wild defenseman Jake Middleton
Photo credit: NHL

Leafs eyeing a trade with Central Division team?

Published February 8, 2024 at 11:31
BY MIKE ARMENTI

The Toronto Maple Leafs are now winners of 4 of their last 5 games and appear to be really turning things up in the second half of the season. It was really anyone's guess whether or not the Leafs would be buyers at the deadline in the first half, but with their recent surge, a few deadline adds appear to be all but certain with the trade deadline now just 1 month away.

The Leafs have hosted a number of scouts from a bevy of teams from around the league over the last couple of weeks, but on Wednesday, they deployed scouts of their own to take in a game between the Minnesota Wild and Chicago Blackhawks, which could point to a trade with one of the two Central Division clubs prior to the deadline.


There are a number of players who might entice the Leafs in both Chicago and Minnesota. Obviously, most of the reports that have come out surrounding the Leafs suggest that they're not overly enthused about the idea of pursuing rentals, so anyone acquired will likely either still have term remaining or come with an extension.


In terms of who might be a good fit out of Chicago, Ryan Donato, or Philipp Kurashev could be of interest to the Leafs up front. I'd have thrown Connor Murphy's name out there as well on the blueline, but Murphy is still out with an injury and did not play against the Wild on Wednesday, so he's certainly not someone the Leafs were scouting.

As for the Wild, pending UFA Zach Bogosian, a former Leaf, may be a piece of interest because of his likely low acquisition cost. In terms of a blueliner with term, Jake Middleton is a tough customer who definitely checks some boxes in Toronto, and he's signed through next season at just $2.45M. Of course, there's also veteran netminder Marc-Andre Fleury to consider, but with Joseph Woll coming back and Ilya Samsonov returning to form, a goaltender might not be an area of need for the Leafs anymore.

It will be interested to see how vigorously the Leafs continue to scout these two teams as we approach the March 8th trade deadline.
POLL
February 8   |   465 answers
Leafs eyeing a trade with Central Division team?

Who do you think the Leafs would be more likely to swing a trade with after scouting the Hawks and Wild last night?

Hawks7616.3 %
Wild16836.1 %
Neither22147.5 %
Both00 %
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