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Maple Leafs Interested in Blackhawks’ McCabe, Murphy

After a tough outing Wednesday against the Bruins, the Maple Leafs are looking for an upgrade to their bottom defensive pair.

It appears the Toronto Maple Leafs have their sights set on a pair of Chicago Blackhawks defenders. According to Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli, the Maple Leafs are among several teams to be interested in rear guards Jake McCabe and Connor Murphy, while Seravalli also specifically mentions the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings among the interested parties.

McCabe, 29, has notched a pair of goals and 12 helpers on the season as part of his 19:20 of average ice time. The former Sabres blueliner has also dished out 98 hits and as many blocked shots across 45 contests. Known for his defensive game than his offensive abilities, McCabe has yet to skate in a single postseason game in his first seven NHL seasons.

Jake McCabe Connor Murphy Chicago Blackhawks
Jake McCabe Connor Murphy Chicago Blackhawks

The 29-year-old Murphy is cut from a similar cloth, albeit as a right-shot defender with more size. The 6-foot-4, 212-pound veteran has five goals and seven points in 48 contests while averaging 19:28 of ice time per game. He too has racked up plenty of hits with 99 on the season alongside 104 blocks. Murphy skated in nine postseason contests in the 2019-20 season with Chicago.

Leafs Looking to Bolster Blueline

Despite sitting seventh in both overall defense and expected goals against per 60 minutes at five-on-five, as per Natural Stat Trick, the Leafs are looking to add to their back end. More specifically, the club’s 5-2 loss to the league-leading Boston Bruins in their final game prior to the All-Star break was an eye-opener when it came to the performance of the Rasmus Sandin/Timothy Liljegren.

Rasmus Sandin, 22, and Timothy Liljegren, 23, have played well for the majority of the season but were exposed against the Bruins, combining for a minus-six rating in a game where the Maple Leafs earned 61.9% of the high-danger scoring chances and 58.9% of the attempted shots at the net.

With veteran Jake Muzzin looking increasingly likely to miss the remainder of the season — at least — Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas would be prudent to look for a veteran upgrade to his bottom pair. Sandin leads all full-time Leafs with a 61.53% Corsi For% at five-on-five as he’s largely played well in a sheltered role, but was overmatched against the veteran Bruins. Only Justin Holl has a worse Corsi For% than Liljegren among the club’s top-six defenders.

It’s certainly easy to expect Dubas to make at least one or two impact deals in a potential make-or-break season for his team, but also a contract year for himself.

Next: Maple Leafs Might Make Sense As a Tyler Bertuzzi Fit



  1. Afp1961

    February 3, 2023 at 6:21 pm

    While all the bloggers were gushing over him, I’ve Been saying for two years that sandin was overhyped, too small, too weak to play NHL defense and that Lily was the far better talent.

    Move sandin like yesterday. I’d take either McCabe or Murphy in a millisecond.

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