Toronto Maple Leafs: Josh Leivo provides update on trade request

TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 9: Josh Leivo /

Toronto Maple Leafs winger Josh Leivo spoke to the media for the first time on Monday, since reports emerged regarding his trade request.

It’s been an interesting couple of days for the Toronto Maple Leafs, since Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported Josh Leivo‘s apparent ultimatum to general manager Lou Lamoriello. According to Kypreos, Leivo requested that he either be put back into the lineup or moved before the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Leivo only signed a one-year, $925,000 contract extension on Nov. 17, so the request may seem somewhat surprising to some. However, he has been healthy-scratched on 14 consecutive occasions, since his last appearance for the Leafs on Dec. 31.

The 24-year-old has had a tough 2017/18 campaign in general even when he has played, with limited production in 12 games. It doesn’t help that he has also seen less ice time per contest, compared to his two previous seasons.

With all this in mind, there was considerable anticipation on Monday. It represented the first opportunity for Leivo to speak to the media, since reports of his trade request emerged.

In fairness to the Innisfil, Ontario native, his comments sounded reasonable, with him insisting his preference is to remain with the Toronto Maple Leafs. As per Sportsnet‘s Chris Johnston, he said:

"“I still want to be here. I still want to play. I’ve just got to get in the lineup. Twenty games in two years is not enough and hopefully I can get in with the team and help them win. But I just need to play.”"

Mike Babcock insisted on Saturday that Leivo is a player he likes. However, the winger has seen himself moved down the depth chart, in favor of Kasperi Kapanen.

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This situation is only expected to get worse for Leivo, with the impending return of Nikita Soshnikov from injury. (As Tip of the Tower’s David Morassutti reported, Soshnikov himself has a clause in his contract that would allow him to go back to the KHL if he is not on an NHL roster.)

One possibility is for Leivo to return to the Marlies. However, as per TSN‘s Kristen Shilton, he has no interest in doing this: “I’ve played enough in the AHL; I want to play in the NHL now.”

One of the positives to come out of this whole situation, is the fact the Leafs’ roster has excellent depth. It is also remarkably healthy.

This is something Leivo is fully aware of. As per Johnston, he said:

"“We know we’re deep. I’ve just got to keep working and waiting for the opportunity. It’s a tough lineup to crack, so I’ve just got to keep working.”"

Leivo is a good player with decent upside. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for him and where he ends up, both in the short and long-term.

Next: Should Leafs rest Andersen more?

What’s your take on Leivo? What kind of long-term production do you predict for him? Is it better for him to leave the Leafs, or should he bide his time? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.