After joining his new team on the road, new Maple Leafs defenseman Jake McCabe discussed his reaction to the trade and what he can bring to the team’s lineup down the stretch and into the playoffs.

What was your initial reaction to the trade?

McCabe: It was at 10 o’clock yesterday morning. We were in Anaheim getting ready to go for a pre-game skate. They pulled [Laffery] and me in and told us the news.

We were super excited — especially to be coming together to a great organization that I am very familiar with from my years in Buffalo.

I have a ton of respect for what they have built here. I am super excited to get started, do my thing, and play my role here.

What do you want to bring to this group?

McCabe: I am not going to change the way I play. I am defense-first with good gaps out there and good skating. Make life hard on the other team’s top players and do whatever it takes to win each night.

How do you think you might mesh with TJ Brodie?

McCabe: He is a great player and a smooth skater. He has been in the league for a long time. Any time you play with a new partner, there is a lot of communication in figuring out the nuances and the system here. He has been great all day in practice bringing me along through the drills. It is exciting.

You have been around the league a fair bit. Does that make a trade any easier?

McCabe: I think it does. This is my third team now. Going from my first team to the second team was probably the most difficult because you are in one place for so long.

I have been around long enough now that I have played enough systems and I am comfortable enough in my own skin and in my own game. I feel confident in the way I have been playing.

Chicago saw the Leafs a couple of times recently. What stands out about the group of players?

McCabe: We played them back-to-back a couple of weeks ago or whatever it was. The back pressure is what really stood out to me from a defenseman’s side of things. We try to break the puck out, and next thing you know, you have two guys tracking back or getting over the boards.

The speed they play with is very difficult to play against. There is so much high-end skill up front. Taking 2-on-1s today, pucks were going through my skates and stick. There are a lot of high-end players. It is fun to get those guys the puck.

You’ve never played in the playoffs. What does the opportunity mean to you?

McCabe: It is everything, really. That is what this game is all about. I haven’t been able to get there. To be able to have a chance to play in the playoffs is very important to me.

I have a ton of respect for this group and what they have built here. I just want to fit in whatever way I can and try to help us win.

You played some high-pressure games back in the World Juniors. Do you reflect on those pressure moments and how they might have helped you?

McCabe: Yeah, the World Juniors were big for me at that time in my career. It really gave me a boost. I played well at that tournament. As far as leadership and confidence in my abilities on the big stages, it was really important to further my development as I was trying to make it in the NHL.

How was seeing Bruce Springsteen with your new teammates?

McCabe: It was good. It was the perfect setup. Laff and I got here at five o’clock. The boys had some tickets. To get into an environment like that and get to know the guys is perfect. It was a really fun night.

Bruce… It is crazy, man. That guy just keeps going for three hours straight, it felt like, with guitar after guitar. The guy wasn’t even sweating. Just ripping it up there. It was awesome.

The guys were having a good time. Having a couple of beers with the fellas is nice. There are a couple of familiar faces here, but it is a super tight group, I can already tell. Everyone is super welcoming. I am very grateful for that.