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Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Bait – Preseason List

It’s not hard to predict who the Toronto Maple Leafs trade bait is even though training camp is still a couple weeks away. Jobs are still up for grabs, but there are some clear front-runners for players that deserve spots in the NHL that probably won’t have one with the Maple Leafs. The team may not trade any of these players. And if they do, they won’t be getting valuable roster players in return. But nonetheless, here are a handful of players that are most likely to be on another team’s roster by October 3rd.

Preseason Toronto Maple Leafs Trade Bait List

Josh Leivo

Poor Josh Leivo played only 16 games for the Maple Leafs last year. He spent the rest of the season in the press box. The Maple Leafs couldn’t even send him down to the Toronto Marlies for fear of losing him on waivers. The season before he played only 13 games, and again none for the Marlies.

It’s a bizarre story. It’s not often a player is on a team for two years while a healthy scratch for the majority of the season. Leivo enters this season with something to prove. And he may very well finally earn a spot on the roster.

His main competition is Tyler Ennis. Ennis has 492 NHL games experience. He has 258 points, a career Corsi For of 45.6 percent and a career relative Corsi of 0.1. Nothing spectacular, but not terrible either. He’s also a player that fits well into the Maple Leafs playing style.

Either one of these players would be a good depth player on the fourth line. But if Ennis wins the job, can anyone really expect Leivo to spend yet another season in the press box? And is it fair for the Maple Leafs to do that to him?

Leivo needs to either make the Maple Leafs roster this season, or he needs to be traded. He won’t return much, maybe a mid-round draft pick at best. But it’s only fair the team use him or move him.

Connor Carrick

The Maple Leafs have five potential defensemen for the right side. Nikita Zaitsev is looking to have a bounce-back year. And if the Maple Leafs did want to trade him, his six remaining years at $4.5 million a season is not a contact many would be willing to take on. Ron Hainsey is a Babcock favourite and has a no-trade clause.

Justin Holl and Igor Ozhiganov are the other two right-handed defensemen with a chance of cracking the Maple Leafs roster. Either could play in the AHL next season as well. If one of both of them manage to earn a starting role, Connor Carrick would be the odd man out. The Maple Leafs would settle for keeping seven defenders. And we know they have no trouble letting players waste away in the press box. But Carrick is young and could be more valuable on the trade front than in the press box.

Curtis McElhinney

Curtis McElhinney put up impressive backup numbers last season. He was 11-5-1, with a GAA of 2.15, a save percentage of .934, with three shutouts. Why would the Maple Leafs trade a backup with numbers like those? Especially heading into a season where the general consensus, not confirmed by Mike Babcock, is to play starter Frederik Andersen less.

For one, McElhinney is 35 years old. He was a very capable backup last season, and he may be again this season. But it’s just a matter of time until he’s not capable. Meanwhile, waiting behind him are two young goaltenders that need NHL playing time in Garret Sparks and Calvin Pickard.

Sparks, 25 years old, and Pickard, 26 years old, were the best goaltending duo in the AHL last year. Neither may turn into quality NHL backups let alone starters, but the Leafs are best served to find out. One of them may end up replacing Andersen, or at least one of them could be his backup for the next few seasons.

McElhinney can’t be expected to perform like he did last season for many more years. It was also a career season for him. A decline has to be expected.

If the Maple Leafs trade McElhinney, Sparks and Pickard would compete for the backup role with the Maple Leafs.

Calvin Pickard or Garret Sparks

The other line of thinking is to keep McElhinney because you know what you have and he is a good presence in the locker room. It’s also possible that neither Sparks or Pickard are able to outplay McElhinney. There is something to be said about winning this season.

If the Maple Leafs do want to play Andersen less this season, it means whoever the backup is will need to play at least 20 games. If neither Sparks or Pickard are capable of winning more than they lose, the Maple Leafs will rue the day they let McElhinney go. Especially if it ends up costing them the division.

Winning the division is an appealing prospect this season. If they don’t win it, it will probably mean the Tampa Bay Lightning wins, probably leaving the Maple Leafs with another first round match-up against the Boston Bruins. Or if you’re not willing to count the Bruins out of winning the division, then the Maple Leafs might play the Lightning in the first round. If the Maple Leafs win the division, however, they’ll most likely be facing a much easier first-round opponent.

There’s something to be said about the idea that it doesn’t matter who they play first. They’ll have to play all the top teams eventually if they want to win it all. But after back to back first-round losses, the confidence they would get by winning a playoff series against any team has a lot of value.


All three goaltenders will need to go through waivers to get to the Marlies, and the Maple Leafs are not likely to carry three goaltenders. Maybe McElhinney could slip through waivers, but after the AHL seasons Sparks and Pickard put up, neither of them will.

The Maple Leafs will need to be very good at evaluating their three goaltenders in the preseason. Whichever two they don’t pick, will likely be traded to avoid losing them through waivers. That also means the Maple Leafs won’t have a lot of leverage in a trade negotiation. Expect a minimal return from any goalie they trade.

Quiet Trade Front

At least for September, the Maple Leafs won’t be making any blockbusters. The team is pretty solid as it is now. The defence’s right side may be something that needs improvement, but there are few options available and that the Maple Leafs can afford at this time.


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