Report: Leafs, Kings have discussed a Patrick Marleau trade

Toronto Maple Leafs celebrate
Toronto Maple Leafs' Morgan Rielly (44), William Nylander (29), Patrick Marleau (12) and Nazem Kadri (43) celebrate Marleau's second goal of the game during third period NHL action against the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg on Wednesday, October 4, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

The Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs have discussed the possibility of a trade involving Patrick Marleau, Pierre LeBrun is reporting.

There are obviously some major ifs here — in addition to the Kings’ overall degree of interest and the difficulty of making the deal work in general, the biggest one is whether Patrick Marleau, without a Cup ring and entering what is likely the final year of his career, would waive his no-movement clause for a team that finished second-last in the league in 2018-19. His former head coach in Todd McLellan is now manning the bench, it’s a move back to California, and it is a team with a veteran core of players who have won multiple Cups in the not-too-distant past, but it’s hard to ignore the reality of their finish last season and the recent trajectory of the team if you’re Marleau.

You do wonder if there is the potential for a larger deal that could come together at some point if Marleau did have an open mind about waiving. There has been buzz around the possibility of Tyler Toffoli being available; the 27-year-old is coming off of a down year (34 points in 82 games, -16) and makes $4.6 million on the cap — vs. Marleau’s $6.25 million — for 2019-20 before he’s a UFA. The Leafs would certainly have to sweeten the pot to make that deal work — and significantly so, be it a good prospect or young roster player. Toffoli is also a right shot, which the Leafs have an abundance of on the wings up front.

The Kings currently have 19 players under contract for 2019-20 with around $10 million in cap space with only Adrian Kempe and Alex Iafallo to sign among their significant RFAs; it’s not impossible to make it work for them cap-wise, but the big ifs are what the Leafs would have to give up — and/or take back — to grease the wheels and whether Marleau has any appetite for that kind of move entering his twilight year. This is also a sensitive situation to handle for Dubas, as Marleau is a cherished veteran presence who is a beloved member of the dressing room among the players and coaching staff. Marleau has made an indelible impact on the youth on the team off the ice, opening his home up to the likes of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner while also rooming with them on the road.

The report comes on the heels of a Dubas media availability on Thursday in which he seemed to hint the trade talk was more active this Spring than the one prior:

As you go into your second year as GM, how do you gauge the level of trade chatter as opposed to last year?

Dubas: It has been way different because last year I didn’t really have that run up from the end of the season until now. As soon as the season ended, you start going around to every team and making your calls and seeing where they’re at for the summer. Last year, at this event, it was really the first time I started getting immersed into what teams’ summer plans were. I feel I have a much better grasp of what other teams are trying to accomplish this year and I’ve had a year of building relationships with the other managers. I’m much more prepared. I feel like we have far more information and that’ll be a big help. I feel much better.

Currently handling the Zaitsev trade request (although there is no rush and no guarantees on a move there), attempting to alleviate cap constraints with difficult-to-swing Marleau and Zaitsev deals, and negotiating significant RFA contracts with Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson, all while looking to make improvements at LW, his center depth, and on the blue line under a tight cap ceiling — Kyle Dubas is one busy man as the calendar flips to June.