Despite saying he wouldn't look to the rental market this season, reports are that Toronto Maple Leafs GM, Kyle Dubas is willing to give up his first-rounder in trade for the right package and opportunity for the Leafs to compete for the Stanley Cup this season.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was the first to report the change in attitude by the Leafs and said that the organization is not just looking at pieces to add this season, they would consider trading their first-round pick, potentially more if they could get the right return.
LeBrun said, “Some of the teams that I’ve talked to, their understanding is that in the right package for a top-four defenceman, the Leafs would listen to including that first-round pick as part of the package.” His partner from TSN, Darren Dreger agreed.
Dreger said the Maple Leafs are looking to add to their blue line and not subtract from it. This includes the team not considering a move that would send often controversial and criticized blueliner Jake Gardiner out of town.
Gardiner was considered a possible trade candidate for two reasons. First, he is a pending unrestricted free agent that will be an expensive contract on July 1, 2019. Second, while talented, his play is inconsistent.
What This Means
This is an admission that most fans knew was already going to become a reality. There was no way the Maple Leafs wouldn't look to improve certain aspects of their team heading toward the 2018-19 playoff push. They're good, but likely not good enough to win it all.
Some of the names being tossed around as targets in Toronto are Ryan Miller in goal, Wayne Simmonds or Micheal Ferland at forward, or Jay Bouwmeester, Niklas Kronwall or Dougie Hamilton at defense. Speculation is the team would rather add a player with term than a pure rental but the team will explore a variety of options.