Trade: Maple Leafs add depth, acquire veteran center Tomas Plekanec
Trade deadline day could be a snoozefest at this rate.
The trade: The Toronto Maple Leafs acquire Tomas Plekanec and Kyle Baun from the Montreal Canadiens for Rinat Valiev, Kerby Rychel and Toronto’s second-round draft pick in 2018. The Canadiens will retain 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary in the deal.
Why the Maple Leafs are making this trade: Plekanec slides right into a fourth line center role with the Leafs as an upgrade over Dominic Moore. The 35-year-old’s production might be waning, but he’s still a solid two-way center that can be counted on to be responsible in the defensive zone. He could also move right into the mix on Toronto’s top penalty kill unit. Immediately, he could also help fill the gaps with Auston Matthews out of the lineup due to injury.
With the Canadiens retaining 50 percent of Plekanec’s salary in his final season of a two-year, $12 million contract, the Leafs can still stay busy in the trade market without immediate worry about cap woes.
According to CapFriendly, the Leafs still have $3,423,334 worth of cap room to play with.
Why the Canadiens are making this trade: Well, for starters, getting a return for Plekanec, a pending unrestricted free agent, was a must. And they certainly got a nice haul for him. The Canadiens, who look to be entering a time of rebuilding, now have four second-round picks -- and nine total -- in the 2018 draft after Sunday’s trade. That pick is the primary factor in this trade.
Rychel led the Toronto Marlies in scoring last season, but hasn’t been able to crack the Leafs after being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Rychel was taken 19th overall in the 2013 draft and has 37 NHL games under his belt.
Valiev has 10 NHL games. He’s shown some promise as a depth, safe defenseman.
The second-round pick is a solid rental return but the key piece may be 22-year-old Rinat Valiev, who is knocking on the door to be an NHL regular on defence. A likely third-pairing, reliable two-way defenceman, Valiev was jammed up in TOR with Dermott, Carrick, Borgman, Polak...— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 25, 2018
Who won the trade? It’s a trade that benefits both sides. The playoff-bound Maple Leafs add depth to the spine of the forward contingent. Also, they get a guy who has quite a bit of playoff experience. Plekanec has played in 87 postseason games, amassing 16 goals and 49 points, including 11 points in 19 games during the 2009-10 season. The Canadiens add another pick to their stable, and get two prospects that will likely get looks before the end of the season.