With the Toronto Maple Leafs looking to make improvements to their blueline, Justin Faulk’s name has reappeared in the rumour mill.
It usually doesn’t take much for a player to be linked as a potential trade option for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In the case of Carolina Hurricanes’ defenceman Justin Faulk, he certainly checks off a couple of boxes that make him an ideal candidate. He’s a right-handed shot defenceman and has an affordable cap hit.
Earlier this week, Hurricanes’ GM Don Waddell spoke to Steve Kouleas of the NHL Network about his plans to improve his team this offseason and veteran players like Faulk and Jeff Skinner could be on the move. The newly promoted GM did not hold back on the fact he wants to make improvements to his team and both players have garnered a lot of interest.
"“[Skinner and Faulk] are guys certainly that people have called about. I talked to almost every general manager, that we’re looking to make some changes, so certainly when other teams are calling, they usually want to call about your better players,” Waddell said. “So we’re in discussions with not only those players but multiple players.”"
One of the changes the 59-year-old is hoping to make is between the pipes, with only Scott Darling under contract going into next season. This is where the Leafs come in, because they can actually help the Hurricanes in that area.
Waddell told Kouleas that they want to get Darling back on track, so they’re not looking for a goalie to take over as the main starter. However, most NHL teams have seen their backups steal the No.1 job or carry the load, and maybe that’s what the Hurricanes are hoping for.
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The Leafs do have two capable AHL starters in Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard, who have been instrumental for the Toronto Marlies this season. Pickard, acquired from the Vegas Golden Knights, is a restricted free agent this summer, so the Leafs will need to make a decision on his future.
So how does this relate to Faulk? Well in order to get a deal done, a team would likely have to move a goalie to the Hurricanes, but Pickard alone isn’t going to be enough.
This brings us to the next question? What would the Leafs have to give up to get Faulk and would it be worth it in the end? If the deal starts with Pickard, the Hurricanes are likely going to ask for players like Connor Brown or Kasperi Kapanen, along with a draft pick.
Would Kyle Dubas be willing to do that for Faulk? It’s tough to say, considering how the team hasn’t been willing to mortage the future on acquiring a defenceman at this point.
Let’s not forget Faulk is not known for his defensive game, but he would be an upgrade to what the team has to employ on the right side. However, it would make more sense for the Leafs to use their assets to get a defenceman who brings a defensive upgrade, unless there’s a way for Jake Gardiner to be worked into a deal.
The 26-year-old is capable of scoring 15 goals or more, which he has done in three of the past fours seasons. He has strong possession stats, but is usually deployed in more offensive situations.
Trading for Faulk would improve the right side of the defence. However, for what it might take to acquire him, the Leafs might be better off remaining patient for the right deal or a better option to become available.