Several National Hockey League experts and fans - and even Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty - are saying it : the Toronto Maple Leafs have a great chance to become successful Cup contenders if they can bolster their blueline.
Michael Augello of the Sporting News agrees, and has dressed a list of six possible trade targets to upgrade Toronto's back end. While the Leafs might not be targeting all of these names at the moment, several rumors indicate that they have already looked into a few of those options.
The six defensemen the Leafs could have an eye on are Vancouver Canucks' Chris Tanev, Anaheim Ducks' Sami Vatanen, Detroit Red Wings' Mike Green, Carolina Hurricanes' Noah Hanifin, Arizona Coyotes' Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Winnipeg Jets' Jacob Trouba.
The Canucks could be a great place to start seeing that the Canadian team needs a boost up front. Furthermore, Tanev was paired with the Leafs’ Morgan Reilly on Team Canada at the 2016 World Championships and has shown great skills with his occasional teammate.
The Ducks might be looking to get reinforcement up front as well, seeing that veteran Patrick Eaves has been sidelined. However, with Cam Fowler's recent knee injury, that will put him out of action for several weeks, Anaheim might prefer to hold on to Vatanen.
Detroit has made it clear that Green will be their biggest trade chip this year, as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Leafs ave the cap room to take on the remainder of his $6 million salary this season and could use him on rental for the Stanley Cup push.
Carolina is stacked on defense and might be looking to move Hanifin for a scoring forward., while Ekman-Larsson might not want to re-sign in another struggling market: Arizona. Rumors have already mentioned that the Coyotes might ask for star forward Mitch Marner in return on a blockbuster deal.
Trouba is set to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights next summer, and has a contentious history with Winnipeg that the Jets might want to avoid by moving him.
A lot of great names out there that will provide the Leafs the help they require to make a long playoff run. Many say their time is now! Which target do you prefer to boost the Leafs' blueline?