Toronto Maple Leafs: Is mortgaging the future really worth it?

BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 5: Timothy Liljegren
BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 5: Timothy Liljegren /

Timothy Liljegren and Kasperi Kapanen‘s names have popped up in recent trade rumours for the Toronto Maple Leafs to land a top defenceman

The Toronto Maple Leafs are safely in a playoff spot with a month and change left in the NHL season.

It’s no secret they need help on defence and down the middle. First, it was Chris Tanev that reportedly caught the Maple Leafs’ eye as a prime trade candidate.

Unfortunately, you have to give to get, and the Canucks want to hit a home run in any trade for one of their best defenceman.

Tanev carries a cap hit of $4.45 million through the 2019-2020 season. That would give them two seasons at a reasonable cap hit before they’d have to worry about negotiating a new deal.

Amid several rumours, it was revealed on Thursday by TSN‘s Pierre LeBrun that Toronto was not on Ryan McDonagh‘s 10 team no-trade list.

In the case of McDonagh, he is not a rental player. He is easily a top-two defender on whatever team he plays. However, his contract would be up after next season and would request much more than the $4.7 million he currently makes.

The issue with acquiring McDonagh is the return the Rangers are seeking. Depending on what you read, New York would be looking for something in the neighbourhood of Timothy Liljegren and/or Kasperi Kapanen, plus a first rounder for McDonagh.

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Firstly, if the Leafs are serious about the future of their organization, Liljegren, Mitch Marner and William Nylander should be off limits in any deal. Those are your franchise building blocks to go along with Auston Matthews.

Kapanen could be moved. It would sting, as it looks like he’s finally finding his stride in the NHL. But it’s not impossible to see the 21-year-old being moved if the deal is right.

Is selling off your top forward, and defensive prospects in order to take a healthy run at a Stanley Cup worth it?

If you’re the Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings, or the Boston Bruins, who are perceived to be over the hill (maybe the Bruins to a lesser degree based on this season), then yes.

The Leafs are in the second year of a perceived rebuild. Their playoff window has just started. There are several more years left before they have to mortgage their future to make one last stab at a championship.

The future is now for this young Leafs team. They are a top-five team in the NHL currently and there are no signs of slowing down.

Not to say that adding a Tanev or McDonagh wouldn’t be a huge boost to the team right now. It would be a big addition to any playoff contender.

The issue would be the long-term ramifications, as they would also eat up cap space that the team would need to sign Matthews, Marner and Nylander.

The best is yet to come with the Leafs’ prospects. Why not ride the wave and enjoy the spoils when they finally make it to the NHL?

Next: How serious is Auston Matthews' injury?

How do you feel about moving prospects to add a top defenceman this year? Let us know your thoughts down below.