Toronto Maple Leafs trade Nick Ritchie for Ilya Lyubushkin, Ryan Dzingel

Arizona Coyotes defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin (46) against the Colorado Avalanche: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Arizona Coyotes defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin (46) against the Colorado Avalanche: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Maple Leafs found a taker for Nick Ritchie’s deal getting Ilya Lyubushkin and Ryan Dzingel from the Arizona Coyotes.

It looks like the Toronto Maple Leafs wasted no time solving their biggest salary cap problem after trading Nick Ritchie to the Arizona Coyotes.

It looked like a deal was in the works after Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the Leafs and Coyotes could trade partners. Well, they didn’t waste much time figuring out a deal with Ilya Lyubushkin and Ryan Dzingel now joining Toronto.

Toronto had made it known that Ritchie’s days with the NHL club were pretty much done after waiving him to the Toronto Marlies. What also helps is that they were able to clear up some necessary cap space for next season with Ritchie’s $2.5 million off the books.

Obviously, the Leafs had to part with a conditional pick either a third-rounder in 2023 or a second-rounder in 2025 which isn’t a huge deal.

The interesting part of this deal is Dzingel coming the other way. The Coyotes probably wanted to include a contract going the other way and for $1.1 million, it’s a manageable cap hit for the Leafs.

The former Senators winger hasn’t been the same since leaving Ottawa but maybe a more defined role in Toronto could give him a bit of a refresh. Really, a lot of people are more interested in what the Leafs are getting in Lyubushkin.

What does Ilya Lyubushkin bring to the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Many can’t help but notice that the Russian defenceman is a right shot and many like the physicality he provides. He is purely a defensive defenceman and probably would be an ideal third-pairing option based on his skillset.

It’s been made known how much the Leafs lack on the right side and what he brings defensively is something this team sorely needs. He can block shots, isn’t afraid to lay the body which the Leafs lost when Zach Bogosian left as a free agent.

Considering the other defencemen the Leafs have shown interest in are Ben Chiarot, Calvin de Haan and Scott Mayfield, the cost to acquire Lyubushkin was pretty reasonable.

Toronto could still potentially pull off another move before the deadline if they feel that they can make a move for a top-four defenceman.

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What are your thoughts on the Leafs pursuing Lyubushkin? Do you think they can find a way to offload Ritchie’s deal? Let us know in the comments below.