Toronto Maple Leafs Rumours: Is Niklas Hjalmarsson an ideal fit?

GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 24: Niklas Hjalmarsson
GLENDALE, AZ - NOVEMBER 24: Niklas Hjalmarsson /

Initially, it sounded as though the Toronto Maple Leafs were eyeing Mike Green or Erik Gudbranson in a trade, but could they be after a bigger fish?

There are only four days until the NHL trade deadline; one of the most exciting events on the calendar for Toronto Maple Leafs supporters and hockey fans in general. In a matter of hours, you can tell what direction your team will be heading for the future.

The Leafs look like they are in a position to buy before Monday rolls around. Most of the talk has centred around defence. With Erik Gudbranson signing a three-year extension this week to stay with the Vancouver Canucks, it narrows the Leafs’ list of targets down.

On Tuesday, TSN’s Jamie McLennan brought up the scenario of the Leafs going after defenceman Niklas Hjalmarsson from the Arizona Coyotes.

Hjalmarsson has played in 624 NHL games in his career, scoring 23 goals and tallying a total of 143 points over parts of 10 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks.

Needless to say, the Swede hasn’t made his name off of his offensive prowess. That’s not what the team needed from him, though.

Hjalmarsson found a cozy spot in the top four of Chicago during his time with the organization, winning three Stanley Cups on a blueline that also featured Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

This summer, Hjalmarsson was moved to Arizona in exchange for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin. He’s only played in 33 games this season for Arizona, chipping in just five assists on the year.

What would he bring to the Leafs? One, another veteran presence. Hjalmarsson is currently an assistant captain in Arizona and is one of the older players on the back end.

Hjalmarsson also is a defensive-minded defenceman, who eats up minutes for whatever team he plays for.

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He is currently logging 21:02 of average time on ice, with 2:11 of that coming on the penalty kill. That would be a huge addition to a Leafs blue line that has struggled at points this season.

Over this recent stretch, it’s been less common to see Ron Hainsey on the ice for an entire kill. Nikita Zaitsev, Roman Polak, and even Morgan Rielly have been given more responsibility when the Buds are a man down.

With Hjalmarsson in the fold, they would have a top option on the kill to go to alongside Hainsey.

The real question is what it would cost the Leafs to pry him from the Coyotes? Sitting at the bottom of the NHL standings, Arizona would likely be looking for at least a pick for Hjalmarsson. For the rest of the season, they’d likely also want a body.

Would Connor Carrick and a pick get the deal done? Hard to say. It’ll likely be a busy weekend working the phones for Lou Lamoriello. Most deals nowadays get done before deadline day, so keep your eyes peeled for the latest updates.

Avoid those fake insider accounts, though.

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Who do you think the Leafs will go after to solidify their roster heading into the playoffs? Is Hjalmarsson a good fit? Let us know in the comments below.