A bit of would’ve-been-Leafs news early this morning: Valtteri Filppula reportedly nixed a move to Toronto as part of a larger trade involving Brian Boyle, according to Renaud Lavoie.

The 32-year-old Filppula has one more year left on his contract at $5 million. Whether the Leafs were sending any salary back or simply taking on the final year of Filppula’s contract as a deal sweetener, we’ll likely never know for sure. Filppula is having somewhat of a bounce-back season from his 31-point campaign in 2015-16 with 34 points in 59 games and would’ve been a known quantity for Mike Babcock from their days together in Detroit, but he’s got the extra year on his deal and he needs to be protected in the expansion draft due to his No Movement Clause.

The Leafs took on an extra year of Milan Michalek and Colin Greening’s contracts to facilitate the Dion Phaneuf trade with Ottawa last February and an extra year of Brooks Laich to sweeten the return on the Daniel Winnik deal with Washington closer to the deadline. All three wound up in the minors full-time this season, which likely wasn’t lost on Filppula’s camp. That said, Filppula is more useful and productive than any of those players were when those moves occurred.

It does show the Leafs are putting their $16 million worth of LTIR cap space in play and looking to be aggressive before 3 p.m. today. There is a clear need on the blue line, but it is pretty slim pickings are far as the obvious trade candidates are concerned. It is also possible the Leafs turn around after the Boyle deal and sell on an expiring contract (Matt Hunwick, Roman Polak) to recoup a pick, although management appears to want to give their young group every chance of finishing their work through 62 games by closing out a playoff spot.

Lou Lamoriello has shown before — many times over — that sitting on his hands on deadline day is perfectly acceptable for him if the right deal doesn’t come along. In his 27 years in the league, Lamoriello has pulled the trigger on just 20 deadline-day deals. Last year in Toronto, he got his work done ahead of time and didn’t make a single move day-of.

He’s also proven capable of stealing the show at different times over his career. With Lou, you never know.

From firing Claude Julien — who had the Devils in first place — in the final week of the season to shocking the hockey world by acquiring Ilya Kovalchuk, Lamoriello has a history of unexpected moves. Some other big acquisitions include acquiring Cory Schneider for a ninth overall pick, bringing in Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner in exchange for Jason Arnott, Randy McKay and a first-round pick (became Dan Paille), and acquiring Alex Mogilny for Brendan Morrison and Denis Pederson — just to name a few.

Toronto has a foundation of core players in place including a franchise center, winger, and a goalie they have committed to long-term. They need help on defense and have been relying on youth to fill out their roster up front. History tells us veteran depth moves are what we can expect from Lamoriello as the Leafs’ young talent cement spots at the top of the lineup. It also tells us to never count Lou out when it comes to the big deal, too.

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