As the trade deadline approaches, Toronto Maple Leafs fans are wondering what Kyle Dubas’ next move may be.
While acquiring Jake Muzzin from Los Angeles has proven to help the team immensely in the few games he’s played, will it be enough to help the Maple Leafs compete against the NHL’s strongest teams?
Many fans are still concerned that it may not be and the Maple Leafs should look for more help on the blue line. Unfortunately, the Maple Leafs have too many players on defence, especially with Igor Ozhiganov accompanying Justin Holl in the press box. The ideal situation would be to trade a current defender (plus extra assets) for a better defender.
Enter; Nikita Zaitsev.
It was Saturday night against the Montreal Canadians when Nikita Zaitsev doubled his goal total to 2 on the season. While fans on social media swung at the low hanging fruit and insisted Dubas trade Zaitsev while his value is at his highest, it would be ideal if Dubas indeed traded Zaitsev before the trade deadline.
Not only would it relieve the team of his $4.5M per year till 2023-24 but it would also provide Zaitsev with an opportunity to revive his career in a role that is better suited for him. Which team would be willing to trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs?
I personally think the Carolina Hurricanes would be an ideal candidate.
For the last few years, the Carolina Hurricanes have been known for a few things; firing their coach and leaving him to hail his own taxi, a surprisingly plentiful amount of quality defenders and their “pee-wee” win celebrations in the words of former NHL GM Brian Burke.
Last summer, the Hurricanes traded their former 5th overall pick, Noah Hanafin, along with forward, Elias Lindholm, to Calgary in exchange for Dougie Hamilton.
Hamilton was shipped out of Calgary for a few reasons. He was originally brought in to Calgary expecting to be one of the top defenders and never panned out for the Flames. There was also an issue where he allegedly skipped on a night out with other teammates to visit a museum. This wasn’t perceived very well amongst Flames fans and more importantly, their management.
There was also an incident where the Flames management waived Hamilton’s brother, Freddie, and it didn’t sit well with Dougie.
So, hear me out for this potential trade that I think would be fair for both sides.
The Toronto Maple Leafs send Nikita Zaitsev, Trevor Moore and a 2nd round draft pick to Carolina who sends back Dougie Hamilton. I think this works for Toronto because it raises the skill level of their second line. The Maple Leafs’ top 4 defenders for this playoff run would be Reilly, Muzzin, Gardiner and Hamilton which would be one of the strongest in the league. Hamilton’s contract will also run longer and fill the gap that pending UFA Jake Gardiner will leave if he chooses not to re-sign with Toronto.
From the Carolina side, you can look at this trade as beneficial for both their defence and forwards.
While Zaitsev might not have the same skill level as Hamilton, he is making $900K less per year and his contract runs 3 years longer than Hamilton’s. This is ideal for the Hurricanes as they are a small market team and have less available funds to work with than a powerhouse like the Toronto Maple Leafs, who are able to spend to the cap each year.
Trevor Moore signed a two-year deal this season for $775K each year, which would be considered a steal if he is able to slot into a Hurricane’s lineup which has lacked a scoring touch since they traded Jeff Skinner this past off-season.
The second round pick is thrown in to make up for the skill difference between all of the players.
While some people on this site may want to keep Trevor Moore until he retires, I believe that he may have enough value to get this trade done. He is young, fast and was leading the Toronto Maple Leafs AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies in scoring before he got called up to the NHL.
This might not be a perfect trade, but let me know what you think in the comments down below!
Thanks for reading!