Kyle Dubas repeated an old adage of Lou Lamoriello’s yesterday: “If you have time, use it.”

Well, he’s using every second he has in advance of the deadline to make moves (and more moves) in hopes of improving the team and finally breaking through in the playoffs.

After trading Rasmus Sandin for Erik Gustafsson and a 2023 first-round pick that originally belonged to the Boston Bruins, Dubas kept the train rolling on Tuesday:

Pierre Engvall (to NYI)
2023 third-round pick

Luke Schenn (from VAN)
2024 third-round pick

It feels like another move is still to come. One lineup question that was — and is — tough to answer on paper: Who could Ryan O’Reilly play with on the third line? Maybe Alex Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall? Calle Jarnkrok would likely move back up to the second line should ROR move down.

Well, now Engvall is gone and Kerfoot is back up in the top nine, leaving a combination of ZAR – Lafferty – Acciari for the third line. That looks a forward short if the plan is to run a third line of Kerfoot – Kampf – Jarnkrok.

In the meantime, all of the maneuvering today does open up the necessary cap space in order to activate Matt Murray off of LTIR.

Pierre Engvall sent packing

When it comes to the players moving in and out, let’s start with Pierre Engvall. He has long been a productive but frustrating player. He scored a career-high 15 goals last season and was already at 12 through 58 games this season. His tools (6’5, can skate, shoot, and carry the puck well) meshed well with David Kampf on a checking line that also chipped in some offense.

Kampf has played over 400 5v5 minutes with Engvall and has not played even 300 with any other skater. Who lines up with Kampf — and where Kampf lines up in general — will be noteworthy to watch. Otherwise, Engvall wasn’t a regular penalty killer, he didn’t move up the lineup, and he was always a bit awkward on the power play when he did play.

Most notably, Engvall came up completely empty in the playoffs three years in a row. He has 17 playoff games to his name with zero goals and four assists, with a few coming on empty netters. At best, he often took empty-calorie shifts.

The Leafs‘ third line doing nothing in the playoffs has been a common theme through six straight first-round defeats, and while it wasn’t all on Engvall — he wasn’t even part of half of them — he certainly played his part.

Now he’s gone.

The Human Eraser Returns

On the flip side, the Leafs have added Luke Schenn. When the Leafs lined up their defense pairings today, it admittedly didn’t make much sense to me to pair up TJ Brodie and Jake McCabe. That’s not because they would be bad together — they almost certainly wouldn’t be — but because Rielly – Holl was the next pairing, and that would be concerning. We have seen this movie before.

With Schenn in the fold, he can seamlessly fit with Rielly. He’s largely played with Quinn Hughes this season, and while they aren’t the exact same players, Rielly and Quinn are stylistically similar. It provides Rielly with a solid, stay-at-home right-handed shot should they want to go that route. Schenn is a player who has had success in that role on a really bad team.

Leafs fans are familiar with Schenn as the once-highly-touted kickstart to the Leafs‘ rebuild back in the 2008 draft, a rebuild that didn’t pan out before GM Brian Burke dealt him straight up for James van Riemsdyk in 2012. As a fan, this is an awesome full-circle story.

Schenn was all but out of the league a few years ago, rebuilt himself, ended up winning a Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, and has been a legitimately solid player in the league for a few years now. He is big with plenty of jam to his game and gives the Leafs a third right-handed shot.

Handedness, it is worth noting, has become something most successful postseason teams value and account for when lining up their D. The checking is so tight, and gleaning every single advantage possible is necessary.

It’s also possible that Schenn plays down the Leafs’ lineup. The Leafs have eight legitimate NHL defensemen right now — with Sandin gone, Gustafsson added, and Schenn added — who have all had success this season. You could argue for any number of combinations.

Much like Keefe will need to sort out mostly all new forward lines, the defense pairings are now completely on the table for a remaking. And Dubas might not be done yet.