It looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to get tougher.
Adding a National Hockey League enforcer to the roster is not the kind of move one would expect from Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas given his reputation around the league. Dubas has always been viewed, at least from the outside, as a man with an analytics first focus when it comes to hockey and measuring things like toughness and grit with raw data is not exactly something you can- do with any degree of certainty. In spite of that it appears this is exactly the type of move that Dubas is now looking to make.
According to a report from The Athletic's Rick Carpiniello the Toronto Maple Leafs have expressed interest in none other than former Boston Bruins enforcer Adam McQuaid. The long time Boston Bruins bruiser was traded last year to the New York Rangers in a relatively minor deal involving a fourth round draft selection, but it now seems like the Rangers would like to flip their asset for a marginal return on investment. Given that the Rangers have no serious hopes of contending this season unloading a player like McQuaid, even if it's only for a mid round pick, makes a ton of sense.
McQuaid, who cost the Rangers a fourth-rounder when they got him from Boston in September, has drawn interest from Toronto, which still needs defensemen, and other contenders would love to add a guy with grit, experience and a Stanley Cup ring, especially one with a reputation as a good teammate. So the Rangers expect to recoup at least what they gave up for McQuaid, but likely would get a third (Nick Holden brought a third-rounder and a minor-leaguer from Boston last season).
There's a belief that the Rangers are going to make a serious play to acquire star forward Artemi Panarin of the Columbus Blue Jackets when he becomes an unrestricted free agent this summer and in order to do that they are going to need a lot of salary cap space. Trading players like Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello are obviously the biggest move the Rangers could make to clear cap room, and both those moves have been heavily rumored to happen ahead of the trade deadline already, but moving McQuaid would help cut $2.75 million off the books as well.
No word on how close the two sides are to making a deal.