There are two things the Toronto Maple Leafs must do this upcoming NHL season. The first is make sure they’re competitive and get over the one-round and out playoff hurdle. GM Kyle Dubas’ job likely depends on it. The second is to get something in return for defenseman Morgan Rielly if it is believed he’s going to be leaving the team in free agency this next offseason. Dubas probably has sleepless nights about this one.
In many ways, the two things go hand in hand. The Rielly situation ties right into how much of a chance the Maple Leafs have of going deep in a playoff run, but it’s looking more and more like the Leafs won’t be able to afford to keep Rielly and the $8-$9 million he could command on the free agent market.
Toronto needs a defenseman like Rielly on their roster. They also need to avoid having what happened with Zach Hyman, happen again. Whether that means a mid-season trade or an offseason deal, Rielly simply can’t just walk out the door to a team like the Seattle Kraken, who Lyle Richardson of Bleacher Report believes could be a suitor.
Richardson writes that the Kraken could offer a seven-year deal worth $9 million per season to Rielly. The Leafs won’t be able to match it. He explains:
The Seattle Kraken could be in the market for a top-pairing left-side defenseman, especially if Mark Giordano retires or departs via free agency next summer. With $54.5 million invested in 14 players, they’ll have the cap space to make a big splash in next year’s UFA pool similar to this year’s signings of goaltender Philipp Grubauer and left winger Jaden Schwartz.
Can the Maple Leafs and Kraken Work Out a Trade?
The Leafs and Kraken could become trade partners if this speculation by Richardson actually turns into something. First, the Kraken have an interesting roster with some pieces on the blue line that could be attractive to the Maple Leafs and depending on when a trade is made.
Seattle might be a competitive team. They may also not be a playoff contender. Who likely are they to swing deals with clubs prior to the NHL Trade Deadline and how willing are they to give up pieces that could help Toronto?
Could a deal be worked out for 24-year-old defenseman Vince Dunn? He might be a nice replacement for Rielly if push came to shove. What about a rental? Would Mark Giordano help Toronto in a playoff push if Rielly was trade to Seattle (or elsewhere) and Giordano was ultimately planning on returning to Calgary to finish out his NHL career? There’d need to be more pieces involved, but the meat of a deal is there.
The Kraken went fairly heavy on defensemen during the NHL Expansion Draft. The Maple Leafs could certainly use one.
This certainly isn’t the type of trade that would be taking place anytime soon, if it happened at all. That said, depending on how the respective seasons go for these two teams, don’t be shocked if we start hearing rumblings that there’s a potential connection there.
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