TSN: Mark Masters on what the Toronto Maple Leafs need to do to get past the first round.
** NHLRumors.com transcription
“With one month to go before the deadline, the Leafs are clearly buyers. Not only that, they already know how challenging their playoff path is going to be with a rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning on the horizon.
And if they do solve the first-round riddle, a likely showdown with the league-leading Boston Bruins.
You can argue the Leafs could use an upgrade on defense. Jake Muzzin, such an important part of the blue line has been sidelined basically all season with a very serious injury. It seems unlikely he’s going to return. Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren, a couple of youngsters, they’ve shown promise, they’ve made progress but they are unproven in the playoffs.
Upfront, Toronto’s bottom-six was outscored by Tampa’s bottom-six, eight-four in that series last spring, and historically in the John Tavares era, Toronto has struggled to score in the deciding games. Three goals in four deciding games.
So perhaps another forward could be added. They have their first-round pick. Matthew Knies is playing very well for the Minnesota Golden Gophers. He’s a top prospect who could be in play.
General manager Kyle Dubas himself is a pending UFA. If they were ever to be all-in, it feels like now is the time.
Top trade assets for the Maple Leafs heading into the trade deadline
Thomas Hall of Yahoo! Sports Canada: The top six trade assets for the Toronto Maple Leafs heading into the March 3rd trade deadline.
1. Matthew Knies – Left Wing – The Leafs wouldn’t include him in any deal last year and won’t be moved for rental.
2. Topi Niemela – Defense – Similar to Knies in that a trade would have to involve someone with term.
3. Fraser Minton – Center – Doubtful the Leafs would want to move him, though will be asking.
4. 2023 first-round pick – They may only have four or five (if the Coyotes swap or not) so they may not want move another. The Leafs haven’t been shy though of moving a first-round pick.
5. Pontus Holmberg – Center – The 23-year-old is a pending RFA with arbitration rights. They may hope to be able to re-sign him,
6. Pierre Engvall – Center/Left Wing – 26-year old pending RFA that will be looking for a raise from his $2.25 million.
Honorable mention: Nick Robertson – Left Wing