The Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues have struck a deal 11 days before the NHL trade deadline. Per multiple reports, the Leafs are sending winger Nikita Soshnikov to the Blues in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2019:
An undrafted talent who previously played in the KHL, the 24-year-old Soshnikov signed him to a three-year deal during the 2014-15 season. Soshnikov has seven goals and 14 points in 70 career games.
But Soshnikov didn't see the ice much in Toronto this season. After playing 56 games last year, injuries have limited Soshnikov to just three games in the NHL thus far in 2017-18. The Leafs refused to activate him from the Injured Reserve, so trading Soshnikov only made sense. He registered seven goals and 10 assists in 19 games for the Leafs' AHL affiliate, the Toronto Marlies.
The Leafs were over the roster limit, so clearing out Soshnikov leaves them at the limit of 22. But general manager Lou Lamoriello still has plenty of possible moves up his sleeve, as the Leafs could use a couple of quality defencemen.
James van Riemsdyk has also been mentioned in trade rumors, given the 28-year-old is a pending UFA and may cost Toronto way too much money to extend. JVR could help Toronto land that much-needed top-four blueliner, though Lamoriello hasn't hinted at moving him out.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="1200"] via Maple Leafs Hotstove[/caption]
Entering play on Thursday, the Maple Leafs sit comfortably at 35-19-5, and are on their way to making the playoffs for the second consecutive year. They trail the Tampa Bay Lightning by four points for first in the Atlantic Division. Barring any significant changes in the standings, Toronto will likely face the Boston Bruins in the opening round of the playoffs.
The NHL trade deadline is set to take play on Monday, Feb. 26 at 3 p.m. eastern. We'll see if the Maple Leafs make any more moves in the coming days.