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Kyle Dubas Is All In

Image; The Toronto Star

There has been a lot of talks regarding what the Leafs will be doing at the trade deadline but the moves made at the 2023 trade deadline have shown that Kyle Dubas is all in. he has made trades giving up a lot of draft assets to acquire position of need for the team. I have listed all the deals that have been made by the Leafs at the deadline as well as my opinions on some of the players.

Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari trade


Image: CP24

The first trade came out of nowhere for some, we knew the Leafs were linked to Ryan O’Reilly but there were rumors that the Blues and O’Reilly may try to work on an extension. The news broke late at night on Friday the 17th. The Leafs would be in a 3 team trade where they would ship out Mikhail Abramov, Adam Gaudette, Toronto’s first-round pick (2023), Ottawa’s third-round pick (2023), and Toronto’s second-round pick (2024) to the St Louis Blues for Ryan O’Reilly (50% retain from STL and 25% from Minnesota) and Noel Acciari. The Leafs would also give Minnesota a fourth-round pick in 2025 for retaining 25%. What do the Leafs give up and what do they get? O’Reilly who is a Stanley cup champion, Conn Smythe winner who will provide either center depth down the middle or bolster the second line with Nylander and Tavares. Acciari, is a physical forward and a really tough customer to come against in the playoffs. Acciari and Zach Aston Reese on a fourth line would be a hard physical line come playoffs. Now, what did the Leafs give up? Mikhail Abramov who has 16 points in 34 games this season with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) and Adam Gaudette was having a great season with the Marlies, recording 34 points in 40 games. Gaudette was showing major signs of improvement from seasons before and even said in a recent interview that this was the best he’s felt his play has been in a while. The picks the Leafs gave up were expected as we knew it was going to cost a lot to get O’Reilly at 75% retained + Noel Accari.


Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty trade + picks



On February 27th, the Leafs would announce a big trade evolving multiple high-end draft picks, and prospects. This trade would involve the Leafs receiving Jake McCabe (50% retained), Sam Lafferty, and Chicago’s fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025 (Both with conditions) in exchange for Toronto’s 2025 first-round pick (top 10 protected), Toronto’s second-round pick in 2026, Joey Anderson, and Pavel Gogolev. Now, what should Toronto and Chicago’s fans expect from their new players? Well, Toronto is getting Jake McCabe, a lefthanded shot defenseman that can also play the right side and has racked up 20 points in 55 games on a tanking Chicago Blackhawks team. I think McCabe will be a great addition to the second line alongside either T.J. Brodie or Mark Giordano. A reason why the price was so high was that he is signed through the 2024-25 season. Now the second piece to this trade is Sam Lafferty. Lafferty who is a solid bottom 6 player who has 21 points in 50 games with the Blackhawks. I like this addition to the lineup because it really strengthens our depth down the middle and overall a great addition to the bottom 6. Now for what Chicago fans can expect from this trade. Firstly Joey Anderson. He’s played 14 games with the Leafs up to this point, has spent most of the season down with the Marlies where he would put up a very respectable 27 points in 30 games on the Marlies first line. The second prospect given up in this trade was Pavel Gogolev. Gogolev has had stints with the Marlies in the past but was mainly in the ECHL this season putting up great numbers. He has 48 points in 33 games with the Growlers. I think this is a very important trade for the Leafs. Getting a defensemen for your second line, and a much-needed depth addition to the bottom 6, although the Leaf traded away a lot of draft picks both signed through this season so it is not a rental trade. For Chicago, they are getting good prospects as well as getting 2 high draft picks. Chicago selling and embracing the rebuild and Toronto improving their lineup for this season and for future seasons.


Erik Gustafsson + 1st round pick


Eric Gustafsson Hat Trick over Toronto earlier this season. Image: The Athletic

3 days before the trade deadline and Kyle Dubas has been busy making trades as he would make 3 trades in under 12 hours. The first trade would be a trade questioned by some leaf fans. This trade with Washington would involve sending Rasmus Sandin to the Capitals in exchange for Erik Gustafsson, and Boston’s first-round pick in 2023. This had a lot of fans in the leafs fan base a bit taken back as it was a trade they weren’t expecting. Sandin who was a Leafs first-round pick in the 2018 draft has developed through their system and was proving himself as a capable defenseman for the future. Trading him when he was starting to become a consistent player in the lineup was a bit confusing but this was a win-now move made by Dubas. Getting a solid defender who has been quarterbacking the Capitals top power play has 38 points in 61 games. Toronto is giving up a defender with great potential for a player who is older and may not stay in Toronto for a long time but it is worth noting that it was rumored that Sandin was unhappy with his role on the Leafs and wanted a more important role. That was going to be hard for him seeing as there are defenders like Morgan Rielly, T.J Brodie, Mark Giordano, and Timothy Liljegren ahead of him. I think Sandin would benefit a lot from this trade as he is going to a team where he will be getting a bigger role and get to play and learn from a defender like John Carlson. The Leafs are getting a defender who can put up points, and be a good addition to the power play. There has been a bit of frustration with the lack of production from Rielly on the power play so having another defenseman who can step into that role is great for the Leafs.


Pierre Engvall to New York Islanders


Image: Sportsnet

The second trade that took place on Tuesday would be the Leafs clearing a bit of cap space by sending Pierre Engvall to the Islanders for a 2024 third-round pick. Although there is not much to mention about this trade but I think this is a good addition for the Islanders. Acquiring a 6’5, 219 lbs forward who is a solid middle to bottom 6 forward. I think this trade also benefits Engvall by getting to play with a guy like Matt Martin. Who could really teach him how to add a physical element to his game and just try to use his size to his advantage and really making him a tough player to play against. In this trade the Leafs regain a bit of draft capital after all their trades so far.


Luke Schenn Is Coming Back


Image: The Hockey News

The final trade that would be made on Tuesday would be the Leafs acquiring Luke Schenn from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick. The Leafs acquire their former 5th overall pick in the 2008 draft. Although his play style has changed since the last time he wore a Leafs jersey. Schenn has developed into a hard-to-play-against, tough defenseman who is not afraid to lay the body. The Canucks are receiving a third-round pick which will help them in their retooling.


Depth Swap

Close to the end of the trade deadline the Leafs and Flames would complete a depth deal. The Leafs sending Dryden Hunt to Calgary in exchange for Radim Zohorna . Hunt was acquired by the Leafs earlier this season has played 37 games in the NHL split between the Rangers, Avalanche, and Leafs. He has also played 15 games in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. I liked Hunt’s play style. good forechecker and was a nice addition to the Marlies middle 6. I think Hunt will have no issue cracking the Flames lineup and could also go down to the AHL if still needed. Zohorna who has played 40 games in the AHL and has racked up 29 points. I think this is a good addition to the Marlies as they currently sit top of the north division and are in a close race for first place in the AHL. With all the recent trades involving some of the Marlies top players it’s nice to get Zohorna who will be a great addition before the Calder cup playoffs

If this trade deadline doesn’t show that Kyle Dubas is all in I’m not sure what will. He has made trades that are giving his team the best chance to succeed. Acquiring positions of need and giving up a lot of draft picks and a few prospects. It is now up to the coaching staff and players to take the next step in the playoffs. One downside to the Leafs being all in is giving up a lot of draft picks. In the 2023 draft the Leafs only have 3 picks. Boston’s first-round pick, a 5th and 6th. They also do not have a second-round pick in the next 3 drafts. Overall I am happy with the deals that Dubas has made and I am interested to see what the Leafs do come playoff time.

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