There's an expectation now that the Toronto Maple Leafs will look to make a significant move ahead of the National Hockey League's trade deadline, given that the team finds itself in the best position to make a run at a Stanley Cup championship that it has had in years.
Of course given that they are in a major hockey market rumors around the team make the rounds regularly and the team has already been linked to some very interesting names. In this article I'm going to take a look at 3 options the Leafs will have at the trade deadline, ranging from the most realistic to the least realistic in terms of their potential acquisition.
#3 Mikael Granlund.
Word around the NHL is that the Leafs are looking for a top 6 or top 9 type of forward and the name that has perhaps come up more often in rumors than any other has been that of veteran forward Mikael Granlund. He's currently on a one year deal which would make him a pure rental, something that may be appealing to the cap strapped Maple Leafs, and he carries a very manageable cap hit of $3.75 million given his skillset. The Predators are expected to be sellers at the deadline, so it also makes sense from their perspective to deal Granlund prior to the deadline.
#2 Rickard Rakell.
This suggestion comes courtesy of NHL insider Pierre LeBrun who recently suggested that Rakell could prove to be an excellent fit. Like Granlund he has a manageable cap hit, slightly more expensive at $3.79 million, but unlike Granlund he would not be a pure rental. Rakell has an extra year remaining on his deal and I suspect that this could cause some headaches for Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, however it would also give the Leafs the chance to use the player for potentially two runs in the playoffs rather than just one.
#1 Nick Foligno.
This would be a dream scenario for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Foligno would give them tremendous depth at the forward position while also bringing the kind of hard nosed, grinding, style that is most effective come playoff time. Foligno is currently in the final year of a 6 year deal, and carries a cap hit of $5.5 million this season. I don't believe the Blue Jackets truly want to let him go, however given his status as a pending free agent I would not be surprised to see them pull the trigger ahead of the trade deadline.
He has the mindset that you want during the playoffs and there's no question he has been a huge part of the culture that has made the Blue Jackets a surprisingly difficult team to challenge in the playoffs. I have no trouble seeing a world in which Leafs' management is salivating at the prospect of getting a player like Foligno and although I think he brings the most to the table out of the 3 names here today, I also must acknowledge that he will be the most difficult to acquire.