Toronto Maple Leafs: Riley Nash trade fills necessary hole

Riley Nash #20 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Riley Nash #20 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas was seen pacing around his office on the phone while the team took the ice for practice on Friday and now we understand why.

Coming to Toronto is Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2022. This wasn’t the deal many were expecting the Leafs to make ahead of the trade deadline but it’s still a necessary one.

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Some might remember Nash from his days with the Boston Bruins where he once scored a carer-high 15 goals and 41 points in 76 games back in the 2017-18 season. Fast forward to 2021 and it’s clear the Leafs have one role in mind for the 31-year-old and that’s to provide the team with a defensive upgrade at centre in the bottom six.

We won’t get an idea of what Nash can bring to the Leafs until the playoffs because the forward suffered a knee sprain that is expected to keep him out for the rest of the regular season. This allows the front office to play him on long-term injured reserve and keep his salary off the books until the post-season where that won’t be a factor.

Ironically, many have linked the Leafs to Nick Foligno the past few weeks and didn’t see a deal for Nash as a possibility. The smart move here is that Nash provides some much-needed insurance in case of injuries of COVID-related absences.

Toronto Maple Leafs: Still work to be done ahead of trade deadline

You know for a fact that there is still more deals to be made ahead of the trade deadline. The real question is whether the Leafs are closer to another move or if this could come down to the wire?

It seemed like Toronto was close to something last month when Dubas said he would move a top prospect to get a deal done. At the time, any player joining a Canadian team from the U.S. had to complete a 14-day quarantine period but that has been reduced to seven.

Not only that but the situation for many teams is definitely different but does that add or take away potential sellers? Are the same teams that were shopping players now taking them off the market?

This has likely made things difficult for many NHL GMs but all they can do is put forth their best offer and hope that it is enough.

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Thoughts on this deal for Nash? What would you look to see the Leafs do ahead of the trade deadline?  Let us know in the comments below.