In the latest installment of 32 Thoughts, Elliotte Friedman delves into the Toronto Maple Leafs’ quest to bolster their defensive lineup, particularly in the wake of missing out on the acquisition of Nikita Zadorov. With their options broadening, Friedman speculates on a potential avenue involving Chris Tanev, the other half of a duo that Flames’ GM Brad Treliving was keen on acquiring. What sets this prospect apart is Friedman’s suggestion that Toronto may be contemplating a unique approach – a trade-and-sign scenario, rather than a conventional deadline rental.
Friedman posits that the Maple Leafs may not view the current season as the opportune moment to go all-in on a short-term rental strategy. Given the absence of key defensemen like Mark Giordano, John Klingberg, and Timothy Liljegren, the Leafs find themselves at a crossroads. The dilemma facing the organization is whether to opt for a cost-effective depth solution or pursue a player with term or a high probability of a contract extension. In this context, Tanev emerges as a potential exception.
Highlighting Tanev’s ties to Toronto and his prior connection with Treliving in Calgary, Friedman suggests that the Leafs might be inclined to invest significantly in a player they believe they can retain. While the initial acquisition may be as a rental, Toronto appears confident in its ability to secure a long-term commitment from Tanev.
The article explores the intricacies of such a deal, contemplating the possibility of a sign-and-trade arrangement. In this scenario, Tanev could agree to a long-term contract with the Flames before being traded to the Maple Leafs. This ensures Toronto secures their target with a confirmed contract. Conversely, the Leafs could choose to trade for Tanev as a pending unrestricted free agent (UFA) and attempt to negotiate a deal independently. However, this approach exposes them to the risk of other teams entering the fray.
Complicating matters, Tanev holds a modified no-trade clause, enabling him to specify 10 teams to which he won’t be traded. If Toronto opts for the latter strategy and pursues him as a pending UFA, it opens the door for Calgary to explore trade options with other teams. While Toronto could ultimately sign Tanev as a free agent, the uncertainty persists, leaving room for alternative scenarios to unfold in the ongoing trade discussions.