With little wiggle room against the salary cap, who can the Toronto Maple Leafs trade to improve their club? Welcome to the 2021 off-season Maple Leafs’ trade value rankings.
The NHL’s roster freeze has expired and transactions are expected to be plentiful leading into Friday’s draft and free agency on July 28th. How active the Toronto Maple Leafs plan to be remains to be seen.
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Value is in the eye of the beholder but this list is based on a player’s production, current age, future outlook, contract amount and length, and positional scarcity. It is about what the Leafs could fetch on the open market.
The list includes players currently signed, who have a good chance at being on the 2021-22 team. Prospects such as Rodion Amirov, Topi Niemela, and Roni Hirvonen are not included but would have other teams interested.
Not included in the list is unrestricted free agent Zach Hyman, who does still have some significance to the front office. While it looks like a return to Toronto is unlikely, the Maple Leafs may be able to use Hyman in a sign and trade.
That brings us to 20 players in total for the exercise. Without further ado, here is the first part of the Maple Leafs trade options ranked from least valuable to most. The trade value of each player is measured using the exact science and creativity of a five-star system (⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐). All contract and statistical information courtesy of Cap Friendly and Hockey Reference.
Seasoned veterans and/or fourth-liners for a Maple Leafs trade
20. Joey Anderson – Age 23 – $750,000 – 2 Years Left ⭐
Appeared in one game for Toronto last season after being acquired from New Jersey for Andreas Johnsson. The Leafs were shedding salary in that move and would not get as much back now but see Anderson as a possible bottom-of-the-lineup player long term.
19. Adam Brooks – Age: 25 – $725,000 – 1 Year Left ⭐
Scored four goals in 11 regular-season games in 2020-21, while appearing in two postseason matchups. Brooks is a restricted free agent after this season but won’t command a huge increase in salary unless he has a big year. Something the Leafs head office would be thrilled with.
18. Pierre Engvall – Age: 25 – $1,250,000 – 1 Year Left ⭐
Like Brooks, Engvall is an RFA after this year and it is hard to imagine a big bump in salary or a ton of value on the trade market. The former seventh-rounder has provided a solid return for the team, recording 12 points in 42 contests last year and appearing in six of the playoff games.
17. Wayne Simmonds – Age: 32 – $900,000 – 2 Years Left ⭐⭐
The ‘Wayne Train’ is not going to be dealt this year as he has a full no-trade clause. In 2022-23 he could submit a list of 10 teams he is not willing to be traded to. He is very valuable to Toronto anyways on a $900k deal with something to prove after a tough 2020-21 season.
16. Jason Spezza – Age: 38 – $750,000 – 1 Year Left ⭐⭐
Spezza will only play in Toronto, barring a significant change of heart. After being put on waivers last year, his agent said the former second overall pick would retire if claimed. Hypothetically speaking, Spezza would carry value on any team with thoughts of contention. Even at 38 years old, he was one of the best Maple Leafs in the playoffs last year.
Young and/or cost-controlled players for a Maple Leafs trade
15. Timothy Liljegren – Age: 22 – $863,333 – 1 Year Left ⭐⭐
This is where things start to get muddled. There are questions about Liljegren’s consistency at the NHL level. He was strong in four AHL seasons but has looked lost at times with the big club. Mind you, the sample size is tiny with 13 career regular-season games to his credit. There is plenty of reason for optimism with a player that is still just 22 years old and a former first-rounder.
14. Travis Dermott – Age: 24 – $1,500,000 – 2 Years Left ⭐⭐
Dermott has been serviceable in the NHL and at 24 years old, still has time to improve. The ceiling appears to be a second-pair defenceman. After recently signing a two-year contract at $1.5 million per season, the Leafs left him unprotected in the expansion draft. Seattle did not select him, which may tell you his value outside of Toronto.
13. Ilya Mikheyev – Age: 26 – $1,645,000 – 1 Year Left ⭐⭐
The ‘Soup Man’ has been a minor revelation in the Leafs middle-six forward spots after being signed in 2019. On the plus-side, Mikheyev has contributed 15 goals, 25 assists, and a plus-12 rating in 93 career regular-season games in the NHL.
However, he has a frustrating knack for being in great spots and not finishing, as evidenced by his career 7.3 shooting percentage. The forward has also contributed exactly zero points in 12 career playoff games. At a cap hit of $1.645 million, he is a valuable piece for Toronto or for any team.
12. Alexander Kerfoot – Age: 26 – $3,500,000 – 2 Years Left ⭐⭐⭐
The Maple Leafs value Kerfoot enough that they sort of protected him in the expansion draft. After it was widely regarded as a certainty that the centre would be gobbled up by the Kraken, Toronto traded for Jared McCann. The move seemed like it was to bolster their forward group, knowing Kerfoot would be out the door. What it did was make Seattle choose between the two (and Dermott).
In the end, the Kraken went with McCann and Kerfoot remains on the Leafs with 2 years left on a contract paying $3.5 million annually. The Vancouver native has seen a drop in his per-game totals for goals and assists since coming from Colorado in the Nazem Kadri trade two years ago. He is just kind of there, not extremely noticeable, which is a good thing for a third centre.
11. Justin Holl – Age: 29 – $2,000,000 – 2 Years Left ⭐⭐⭐
There is a lot of debate as to why the Maple Leafs would protect Holl instead of McCann, but as James Mirtle points out in his piece, it is not about who is better. Holl fits the Leafs a lot better, especially when paired with Jake Muzzin.
For $2 million per year over the next two seasons, a defenceman that chews up over 21 minutes per night is a good deal. Perhaps Holl is much more valuable to Toronto than around the league but it certainly appears Seattle would have jumped at the chance to take him.
–Stay Tuned for Part 2 soon–
What do you think of the Toronto Maple Leafs trade pieces? Do you see the team trading anyone to improve the roster? Let us know in the comments below.