6-foot-7 Seattle Kraken defenseman Jamie Oleksiak
Photo credit: NHL

Leafs reporter identifies ideal trade target for GM Brad Treliving; it's someone who hasn't been mentioned yet

Published February 10, 2024 at 6:52 PM
BY MIKE ARMENTI
The Toronto Maple Leafs have some big decisions to make between now and the March 8th trade deadline. The need for a defenseman who can comfortably slot into the top-4 in Toronto is almost assuredly a must for the Leafs if they hope to have any chance come playoff time, but there are other needs that will need to be addressed as well.

Earlier this week, we heard TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun state that the Leafs need two defensemen and a top-9 forward to be considered legitimate contenders. TSN analyst Mike Johnson, too, agreed that the Leafs are more than 1 piece away from being a serious threat come playoff time.

The Leafs have been linked to a number of defenseman, dating back to last summer, including Carolina's Brett Pesce, Calgary's Chris Tanev and Noah Hanifin, Ottawa's Jakob Chychrun and Montreal's David Savard. However, there is one name that could make a world of sense for the Leafs with what he brings to the table, but as of this point, he has not come up in discussions surrounding the Leafs.

Hulking defenseman and Toronto native Jamie Oleksiak has been a real treat for the Seattle Kraken, but if the Kraken would consider moving him, he's a player that one Leafs correspondent would part with some huge pieces for. The Athletic's Kevin Papetti mentioned this week that, if he had a say, Oleksiak would be his guy for a number of reasons.


Back on January 17th, Papetti first mentioned Oleksiak as a possible deadline add, provided the Kraken were open to moving him. On February 8th, Papetti re-affirmed his belief that Oleksiak would be the perfect target for the Buds, though he did concede that the cost would be very, very high - and rightfully so. Papetti hypothesized this week that for the Leafs to even have a chance, they'd have to dangle something enticing in front of Kraken GM Ron Francis - likely Timothy Liljegren or one of the two "untouchable" prospects in Easton Cowan or Fraser Minten as the starting point for any deal involving Oleksiak.

The 6-foot-7, 257 pound defenseman is a bit of a unicorn. Oleksiak is a huge, bruising defenseman who has blocked over 110 shots in each of the last two seasons. He's averaging over 20 minutes of ice time per game this season. He also doesn't shy away from the rough stuff and will drop the gloves to defend a teammate without hesitation.

Oleksiak's career high 25 points last season don't necessarily jump off the page, but as a defensive defenseman, nobody would be counting on him to create any offense. He'd be an ace in his place in a shutdown role for the Leafs and would have no problem whatsoever using his massive frame to clear the front of the net - something that smaller defensemen like T.J. Brodie or Timothy Liljegren may struggle with.

The one caveat here is that Oleksiak is another left shot defenseman, which the Leafs currently have a ton of. Granted, the team has a number of lefties who can play the right side, but bringing in another lefty like Oleksiak may actually allow for a bit of a cascading effect that would bump 40-year-old Mark Giordano into a #7D role. Assuming the Leafs held onto Liljegren in the deal, if they brought in Oleksiak, the pairings could look something like this:

Rielly-Brodie
Oleksiak-McCabe
Benoit-Liljegren
Extras: Giordano-Timmins

Even with Oleksiak in the picture, the Leafs might still like to acquire another defenseman, as Pierre LeBrun had suggested. If they're still interested in someone like Chris Tanev, for example, bringing him in as well could bolster this group even more and make them look much more like a contender.

Rielly-Tanev
Oleksiak-Brodie
McCabe-Liljegren
Extras: Benoit-Giordano

For now, this is all hypothetical, but I could absolutely be sold on the Leafs acquiring Oleksiak, depending on what the cost of acquisition is. At any rate, I'm sure we'll begin to hear more about what the Leafs have cooking as we approach the March 8th trade deadline, which is now less than a month away.

POLL
10 February   |   788 answers
Leafs reporter identifies ideal trade target for GM Brad Treliving; it's someone who hasn't been mentioned yet

Should the Leafs put together a competitive package for Seattle Kraken blueliner and Toronto native Jamie Oleksiak?

Yes37948.1 %
No15920.2 %
Depends heavily on the cost25031.7 %
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