As the names continue to drop off the board — Tyler Bertuzzi to Boston, Nick Bjugstad to Edmonton, among others — we’re now under 24 hours until the trade deadline and the Maple Leafs are likely not done.
Kyle Dubas has 12 forwards and nine defensemen on his current roster, and if we look at the forward group in particular, it appears to be one top-nine winger short, as Anthony Petrielli wrote in his recent notebook:
I am still largely digesting the flurry of activity from the Leafs, but by and large, the group feels a forward short. I can’t get to three proper lines on paper. Ryan O’Reilly can carry a line on his own, but who are his linemates going to be? Alex Kerfoot and Noel Acciari? Maybe Calle Jarnkrok, but who goes into the top six then? Again, Kerfoot? Sam Lafferty and Zach Aston-Reese are really fourth-liners. They look to be one forward shy.
Let’s work through five options that are still on the market as of late Thursday afternoon. Feel free to toss your own in the comments below the article.
The fit: The Maple Leafs have been adding Cup rings to their roster in their deadline additions of ROR and Luke Schenn; how about a player who wears two of them in the former Penguins forward?
Sheary is not producing at the level of his 23 goals and 53 points in just 61 games back in 2016-17, but the undersized (5’9), speedy, and feisty winger has remained consistently productive over the years, usually falling between the 15 and 20-goal marks. The 30-year-old pending UFA has played all situations minutes for Washington and tallied two shorthanded markers among his 12 goals in 63 games this season.
The question marks: There aren’t too many here other than a quibble with his lack of recent production in the playoffs (four points in his last 15 playoff games over three first-round exits). He’s a strong fit overall for the second or third-line LW spot, makes just $1.5 million on an expiring contract, and would come cheaply in terms of acquisition cost. He is not the most offensively impactful option on this list, though.
The fit: A Cup champ from 2019 with 104 games worth of playoff experience on his resume, Perron is the definition of a playoff player, producing nine goals and 13 points in 12 games as recently as last spring in St. Louis.
He has a long history of riding shotgun next to Ryan O’Reilly, including 619 five-on-five minutes together last regular season, with the Blues out-scoring the opposition 24-16 in those minutes. In the playoffs, ROR and Perron outscored the opposition 8-5 at five-on-five. If we go back to their 2019 Cup run together, ROR and Perron outscored the opposition by a ridiculous 16-5 margin at even strength.
Perron is solidly built, plays with an edge, and has plenty of finishing ability in tight, adding another between-the-dots player and net-front scorer to the Leafs’ mix. Stylistically, he’d fit in wonderfully on either Tavares or ROR’s wing.
The question marks: While the sale is on in Detroit, the Red Wings can conceivably contend for a playoff spot next season. Will Steve Yzerman even move Perron with a year left on his contract at $4.75 million? Without an immediate urgency to do so, Yzerman can hold out if a suitor doesn’t meet his price.
There are also a lot of miles on the soon-to-be 35-year-old’s body and he isn’t the fastest skater, but the gamer from Sherbrooke, Quebec appears to have plenty of good hockey left in him. More than anyone on this list, Perron is made for the postseason.
The fit: Still quite productive at 33 years old on a miserably-bad Ducks team, Henrique was on track to easily break 20 goals (19 in 57) before his recent lower-body injury knocked him out of the lineup (week-to-week). He is capable of playing left wing or center, which creates the option to slot him in on a line with either John Tavares or O’Reilly or ask him to drive a third line down the middle.
After a Cup finals appearance away back in 2012 with the Devils, Henrique has only been back to the playoffs once in 11 years (a first-round sweep back in 2018). The Brantford native has to be chomping at the bit to win a Cup before it’s too late.
The question marks: In addition to the injury that won’t allow him to gel with the team right away, there is the extra year of term to consider at a pricey $5.825 million. If the Leafs could secure significant retention, though, he is a great fit and would give them some veteran certainty up front looking ahead to an offseason in which ROR, Michael Bunting, David Kampf, Alex Kerfoot, Zach Aston-Reese, and Noel Acciari are all pending UFAs.
Note: As of 5 p.m. EST on Thursday, Chicago and Dallas appear to be working towards a deal that would send Domi to the Stars.
The fit: Despite moving around the league a ton during his eight-year career, Tie’s higher-scoring but less-pugilistic son has produced at the calibre of a legitimate top-six player in the NHL, and he can play center or left wing.
With 18 goals and 49 points in 60 games, Domi has certainly been more productive and healthy this year than now-Bruin Tyler Bertuzzi in not-dissimilar usage (playing inside the top six and on the top unit on the power play), and he will move for a significantly lower acquisition cost than a first and a fourth-round pick. The pending UFA could help the Leafs with extra scoring punch on a second line next to John Tavares at center or a third line with ROR at center, with the option to use him down the middle if needed.
The question marks: With inconsistency plaguing Domi at various times throughout his career, to what degree he can maintain his offensive form and confidence when he has to produce with far less opportunity on the power play and not as much ice time at five-on-five? He’s yappy like this dad and will occasionally fight when the mood strikes, but he’s not a consistent finisher of checks or board rattler on the forecheck (16 hits in 60 games). Additionally, is he a culture fit?
The fit: He is a former Soo Greyhound. End of story.
More seriously, the 25-year-old Caledon, Ontario native is 6’3 and appears to be coming into his own a little bit offensively as he surpasses the 130-game mark in his NHL career. The right winger has tallied 14 goals in 60 games while playing 16:27 per game and over three minutes per game on the Chicago power play.
The question marks: What is Raddysh offensively when he isn’t seeing notable power-play time? How far might the 16% shooting percentage fall off? Kyle Dubas has also been favouring more experienced options among his deadline additions so far.
Raddysh is incredibly cheap on the cap at $750k, though, and he is signed through next season. It’s a decent upside bet on a player who could help add some secondary scoring, but we aren’t sure how low the floor would be with Raddysh for this season as compared to some of the other experienced options available.
There is the real possibility that Raddysh could end up scratched at points in the playoffs unless he really found traction in Toronto. He alone might not be enough in terms of the remaining top-nine forward of consequence the Leafs are seeking.