It seems like just about everyone is gambling on the fact that Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas will be forced to make some trades over the course of the summer in order to become cap compliant for the 2019 - 2020 National Hockey League regular season.
Rumors have run rampant regarding which player, or players, will eventually be traded by Dubas. Just about every name imaginable has been out there in one way or another with talk of a potential return to the Sharks for veteran Patrick Marleau, or a trade involving forward William Nylander following his holdout as a restricted free agent, and even one insider mentioning the possibility of forward Nazem Kadri playing in a Flyers jersey next season.
That being said the insiders over at TSN have just released their updated "Trade Bait" list and none of those names have made the top 15. 2 other members of the Toronto Maple Leafs have found their way up there however with forward Connor Brown earning himself the number 7 spot on the list while defenseman Nikita Zaitsev finds himself at number 12. These are two very interesting options for Kyle Dubas if only due to the fact that he will almost assuredly need additional space to sign restricted free agent Mitch Marner to a new contract.
If we are talking pure salary cap savings here then Nikita Zaitsev would be the move. Zaitsev will be entering just the 3rd year of a 7 year deal next season that pays him an average annual value of $4.5 million per season. Additionally the time to trade Zaitsev would be now as he is on the verge of having his modified no trade clause come into effect. One that happens Zaitsev will have the option to submit a 10 team no trade list, something he currently does not have the luxury of doing.
Brown on the other hand is about to enter the final year of a deal that pays him an average annual value of $2.1 million per season, which obviously is less than half of what Zaitsev's current cap hit represents. Brown however is a relatively expendable forward and with the Leafs already expected to lose veteran defenseman Jake Gardiner this summer Dubas may be hesitant to move one of his defensemen.