The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Jake Muzzin on LTIR this week which has freed up roughly $5.65 million in cap space. While general manager Kyle Dubas planned on being active before the March 21 trade deadline, now the strategy has changed a little as the team as much more cap space to work with and a giant hole on their blue line. Let’s take a look at two names that have been heavily linked to the Maple Leafs:
According to Darren Dreger of TSN, Hampus Lindholm is a target of the Maple Leafs, and likely several other teams as the pending unrestricted free agent is a great skater who can play in all situations. The 28-year-old is making $5.2 million on the cap and holds no trade protection. The former sixth overall pick has recorded 20 points in 51 games and is second on the team in average ice-time, 22:45 a night. Lindholm isn’t overly physical but he loves to block shots and could provide Toronto with a solid addition for their top-four. Dubas is reluctant to trade a first-round pick for any rentals so it will either be a contract extension in the works or a trade that’s based around prospects. For the Ducks, they are tied for the last wild card spot in the western conference so if you’re taking one of their best defenders, it better be worth it.
Dreger also mentioned recently the Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg remains a target for the Maple Leafs as the two teams have reportedly gone back and forth recently on some trade offers. The Stars want a first round pick and Toronto won’t give it up so at this point, there’s been no legs to this deal. Klingberg is a big body who is right-handed and has a booming slap shot. He makes less than Lindholm at only $4.2 million on the cap and would give the Leafs so more wiggle room to add another piece before the deadline. Rumor has the Stars being heavily interested in Maple Leafs’ prospect Nick Robertson as the team has his older brother Jason lighting it up. Keep an eye on these two teams, if the Stars fall out of the playoff picture these next couple of weeks, it’s expected they will become sellers. Right now, the Maple Leafs are doing whatever they can to buy and if the Stars won’t work out a deal, they will move elsewhere.
Photo credit: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports