If the Toronto Maple Leafs want to make a splash at the NHL Trade Deadline, they should trade their first-round pick..
At the end of the day, what do the Toronto Maple Leafs need their 2022 first round pick for anyway? All of their core players are returning for next year and the year-after, so not only are they in win-now mode, but that draft pick isn’t playing here anytime soon.
Keeping your first round pick (who will more than likely be a selection in the 20’s) won’t be the difference to this team winning a Stanley Cup in five years. However, by keeping it, it could be the reason why they don’t win a Stanley Cup this year.
The Leafs haven’t been strangers to trading their first-round pick before. In fact, they’ve traded it two of the past three seasons.
In 2019, they shipped it away to acquire Jake Muzzin and in 2021, they traded it in exchange for Nick Foligno. The Muzzin deal clearly worked out better than the Foligno trade, but Foligno got hurt. If his back wasn’t so messed up, that trade could have been way better than what it is.
And, if you’re Kyle Dubas, you can’t regret that trade one bit, nor should the fanbase.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Trade Their 1st Round Pick
Over the past three years, the Leafs have received two legitimate NHL players for their first-round picks. They acquired a top-six forward and a top-four defenseman. Whoever that first-round pick they traded away turns into, is not worth keeping, if you can get another player like Muzzin or Foligno.
Of the pending UFA’s, there are three players who stick out, that could be traded. It would be rare, but you’d use a first-round pick one any one of these three players in a heartbeat:
- Evgeni Malkin
- Claude Giroux
- Filip Forsberg,
All three of those guys are difference-makers and will help the Leafs get better. Even if Toronto doesn’t re-sign any of them, trading a first-round pick makes complete sense if you can acquire any of these players for a stretch playoff-run.
Even if the Leafs can’t get a player of that stature, any other top-six left-winger or defenseman is worth trading a first-round pick for.
A 2022 first-round pick would not end up being a full-time NHLer until 2025 and that point, if the Leafs hadn’t won anything, the core-four could all be gone, while Kyle Dubas and Sheldon Keefe could have been fired.
When you’re a good team, you need to trade any remaining assets you have to get one big chance at a championship. Just look at Alex Anthopoulos, GM of the Atlanta Braves. He saw an opportunity to improve his team and made a ton of moves at the MLB Trade Deadline, which all worked and it helped his team win the World Series.
In professional sports, you don’t have a legitimate chance at winning a championship every year, however in the years you do, you need to take that leap and trade anything you can to improve.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t trade their first-round pick this year, it’ll be a complete waste of asset management, as that first-round pick could be the difference in winning or losing.