Part 2 of my trade targets series looks at a couple of pending UFA veterans drawing interest around the league as well as some potentially affordable options from the bargain bin. 

In case you missed them, here are the previous editions of my 2024 trade deadline analysis:

Price-Dependent Pending-UFA Options

Chris Tanev, Flames, Maple Leafs
Photo: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Chris Tanev (RHD)

Age: 34 years old
2023-24 Season: 1 goal, 9 points in 48 games
Contract statusPending UFA

What’s to like?

In terms of checking every box in the short term, Tanev fits the bill. He’s an excellent penalty killer, he’s capable of matching up against top players, and he’s right-handed. He would be the best partner Morgan Rielly has ever played with in Toronto (which is a whole story in and of itself), and Tanev would be well prepared for that style of partner after forming partnerships with the likes of Quinn Hughes in the past.

The Leafs‘ defense would start to make sense with Tanev in the fold. They could feasibly keep the Benoit – McCabe pairing together followed by a Brodie – Liljegren pairing before re-signing Tanev in some capacity for next season (probably for multiple years). After the season, they can rework the unit around losing Brodie and deciding on the future of pending RFA Liljegren.

It would make a lot of sense from a current personnel standpoint, although it would still very much feel like the Leafs would need to add a notable needle mover to the mix at some point soon even with Tanev in the fold.

Tanev wouldn’t bring offense from the defense, but he’s a good first-pass defender who moves the puck well and would help the Leafs break out cleaner. Hopefully, there would be the added benefit of pushing Brodie down and thereby yielding better performances from him inside weaker matchups.

What are the concerns?

Calgary is reportedly asking for a second-round pick, but since the Leafs don’t own a second-rounder in each of the next three years, they reportedly want the Leafs‘ first-rounder. Now, part of me (just my opinion here) thinks this is a ploy; a lot of teams around the league are interested in Tanev, and if the price is a second-rounder (and potentially a middling prospect), surely someone would have pulled the trigger by now. For reference, the Jets just traded a first-round pick for Sean Monahan.

A first-round pick is a big price to pay, and considering the Leafs’ lack of picks over the past few years and moving forward, I’d find it a tough pill to swallow for an older veteran. I’d rather target a younger option if this is the final price.

While Tanev has been far more durable than he receives credit for (he played in every game in two of the past three seasons and has dressed in 48 of 51 so far this season), his body has endured a lot of wear and tear, and you have to wonder if it catches up to him soon.

Tanev would also have to re-sign to make it worthwhile for the Leafs, and while you’d like to think the Toronto boy would ink a team-friendly deal, it’s unclear what his next contract would look like at this point.

Adam Henrique (LH C/W)

Age: 34 years old
2023-24 Season: 15 goals, 33 points in 49 games
Contract statusPending UFA

What’s to like?

Henrique offers a bit of everything wrapped in veteran savvy. He can play center or wing, he can penalty kill, he has been to a Stanley Cup final before, and he can still produce offense. As we noted when the Leafs acquired Simon Benoit in the summer, the Ducks are a terrible team and it’s difficult to sort out how much the environment in Anaheim impacts their players’ numbers.

Moving this type of chess piece around would really round out the Leafs’ top-nine forward group once Calle Jarnkrok returns, especially as players such as Nick Robertson and Pontus Holmberg are beginning to prove they are credible contributors.

What are the concerns?

I can keep this one quite short: The price for Henrique will be high as there will be tons of bidders.

He would definitely help the Leafs, but his position is not the primary need they should be looking to address, so it would be tough to sort out why they should use some of their few remaining bullets on this type of addition unless it was part of something bigger (or they somehow stole another player at a position of need in a different type of deal).

Henrique might be more of a pure rental, which is the type of thing the Leafs should be looking to avoid, although I really like the player. 

Potential Bargains

Alex Carrier, Nashville Predators
Photo: Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports

Alexandre Carrier (RHD)

Age: 27 years old
2023-24 Season: 4 goals, 14 points in 46 games
Contract statusPending UFA

What’s to like?

I think a lot of people are going to look at Carrier’s size (5’11) and disregard him without familiarizing themselves with his game. Based on Brad Treliving’s history, it’s possible the Leafs GM, too, would disregard him due to his size. Carrier is not overly feisty or physical, but he’ll engage physically in games and even has a fight against the 6’7 Logan Stanley on his resume.

Carrier produced a stand-out rookie season in 2021-22, putting up 30 points playing primarily with Mattias Ekholm and outscoring opponents 55-32 at 5v5 while benefitting from lots of puck luck. The good fortune dried up in recent seasons, but his possession numbers have still steadily trended in the right direction.

The Quebec native is a good puck mover who is just above 50 percent in shot share this season on a middling Predators team. He’s also a regular penalty killer in Nashville, playing just over two shorthanded minutes per game on their sixth-ranked unit last season (The Preds have struggled shorthanded this season, and he’s once again on their second unit).

Carrier has yet to play even 200 games in the league, he’s right-handed, he’s still just 27 years old, and his game is really starting to settle in this year. He has been helping anchor one of the Predators’ most consistent pairings.

Ultimately, he’s more of a 4-5 defenseman, but the Leafs lack quality throughout their defense. Acquiring a quality right-hander at a discount to bolster the top six isn’t as sexy as the top-end names, but adding a good player helps a team lacking in quality depth at the position. For an example, look no further than Benoit, who is notably helping this Leafs team even if he’s not a top-pairing stud.

In 2020, the Jets traded a third-round pick for Dylan DeMelo, who was in a similar situation to Carrier at that point in his career in Ottawa. After the Jets signed him to a cheap deal, DeMelo has been excellent for a Winnipeg team that has made the playoffs in all but one season since he arrived (and they’re slated to make it again this season).

If the Leafs could acquire this type of player for that type of price — whether they do or do not miss out on the higher-end options — it could be a quietly nice addition that could help the unit trend in the right direction. Of course, Carrier would have to be re-signed to make it worthwhile. 

What are the concerns?

It’s fair to question how good Carrier really is. He is making $2.5 million and is probably due for a raise, so if he’s roughly a #4, that price tag is more than fine. If he’s more of a strictly third-pairing defenseman, the Leafs can hunt for bargains elsewhere (see Benoit, Simon).

Carrier’s most productive season came alongside a high-end partner in Ekholm, but he is currently putting together a strong year alongside Jeremy Lauzon, who is not exactly a high-end defenseman. Carrier is averaging 18:09 per game — more of a fifth defenseman than a fourth based on TOI — but that doesn’t mean he couldn’t take on more minutes moving forward.

Oskar Sundqvist (RHW)

Age: 29 years old
2023-24 Season: 6 goals, 18 points in 49 games
Contract statusPending UFA

What’s to like?

Sundqvist would be a depth acquisition for a team lacking in quality depth and for a head coach who has bemoaned a lack of players he can trust in defensive situations.

Sundqvist is a big (6’3), strong checking forward who has some ability to chip in offense and is quietly effective at drawing penalties (he leads the Blues with 16 drawn penalties this season). He was a regular on the Blues 2019 Cup team and recorded nine points in 25 games that playoffs, so he has some Cup pedigree.

A healthy Leafs team could run a Holmberg – Kampf – Sundqvist fourth line, which would be better than any of the Gregor/Reaves/McMann combinations they have been trotting out for extended periods of time. He’s not a difference maker, but he can plug a small hole for the team at a minimal price, and he’s a veteran who has won in the league before.

Sundqvist moved for a fourth-round pick at the deadline last season. While I wouldn’t offer as much this year, the Leafs do own three fifth-rounders in 2024 and two in 2025.

What are the concerns?

Sundqvist isn’t a true play driver of any kind, so it’s not certain how well he would mesh with Kampf in a checking role. If he doesn’t mesh with Kampf, there’s no point in acquiring him.

Sundqvist shouldn’t be playing higher in the lineup than the fourth line on a regular basis. Kampf does need someone to help him move the puck up the ice (I think Holmberg has flashed potential in this regard), so this is a very real concern.

Taylor Raddysh (RHW)

Age: 25 years old
2023-24 Season: 5 goals, 11 points in 46 games
Contract status: Pending RFA

What’s to like?

Raddysh broke out with 20 goals last season, but he is struggling on a terrible Blackhawks team while shooting just 6.4 percent. He’s a potential buy-low option on a Chicago team that is open for business and already has seven forwards under contract for next season, not counting any prospects who might crack the lineup or the six RFA forwards who have each played 24+ games this season.

Raddysh is 6’3, and while he’s not a physical power forward (he has no fights in the league), he is effective at going to the net, screening the goalie, and finding the puck in tight. The old rule of thumb is that power forwards generally take longer to develop; there could be a sensible gamble to be made on a big forward like Raddysh who has upside and is hitting the prime age when it could come together for him in the right situation.

What are the concerns?

Raddysh is cheap and has scored some in the league, and if it doesn’t work out, it would not be the end of the world. After all, he’s a pending RFA. 

The acquisition cost might prove tricky, though. When Raddysh broke out last season, there was a year left on his contract at under $800K AAV, a team-friendly deal that reportedly boosted the asking price. Now in a down season and a pending RFA, how much will it drive down the price?  Chicago certainly won’t give him away, but if the Leafs are going to add, why not consider a younger player with upside?

How significant the upside is with Raddysh is also fair to debate. He played with Jonathan Toews last season, but is he more of a third-line scoring player or someone who can earn trust and work his way up the lineup? Can he also produce when he isn’t receiving steady top-unit power play time? Raddysh scored seven power-play goals and 15 power-play points in his career season. We are, to some degree, seeing this type of issue right now with Tyler Bertuzzi’s production.

Note: There are a number of other players who are potentially available that I think would be good additions, such as Adam Larsson, Jamie Oleksiak, Yanni Gourde, MacKenzie Weegar, and Boone Jenner, but I question the likelihood of any of them actually getting traded, so I did not write about them here.