HC Sheldon Keefe explains how the 27-year-old Trade Could Win Toronto Maple Leafs Stanley Cup…

In the early days of December, the Toronto Maple Leafs find themselves teetering on the edge of a playoff spot, with a dire need for defensive reinforcements. General Manager Brad Treliving, linked to the Calgary Flames due to his past connections, is under pressure to take decisive action and leverage his ties with the Flames to address the Leafs’ defensive woes.

While the proposal may not be everyone’s cup of tea, the suggested trade has the potential to significantly bolster the Leafs’ defensive capabilities and propel them towards a Stanley Cup victory this season. Simultaneously, it provides the Flames with a valuable asset to re-sign and a foundation for their future endeavors.

The Proposed Trade

The proposal centers around the possibility of the Flames allowing key players like Hanifin, Tanev, and Lindholm to depart as unrestricted free agents. To extract value from this scenario, the trade suggests sending William Nylander, Toronto’s premier asset, along with two first-round picks and a top prospect in exchange.

This audacious trade, while unconventional, stands to benefit the Flames by presenting the opportunity to secure Nylander on a long-term deal. Paired with Nazem Kadri and a struggling Jonathan Huberdeau, Nylander’s skill set could potentially rejuvenate Huberdeau’s performance, transforming him back into the prolific point-per-game player he once was.

Additionally, the Flames would acquire defenseman Niemela, poised to make an impact in the NHL next year, a revered top-four defenseman in Brodie, and two coveted first-round picks.

For the Leafs, parting ways with Nylander is undoubtedly a bitter pill to swallow. However, the immediate improvement in defensive strength, coupled with enhanced depth scoring, could position them as serious Stanley Cup contenders.

The Strategy Behind the Trade

A central argument supporting the proposed trade is the notion that for the Leafs to reach their full potential, Auston Matthews must lead a line independent of Tavares, Marner, or Nylander. This shift in dynamics would allow Matthews to shoulder the load and contribute significantly to the team’s overall depth.

With Lindholm, a former 40-goal scorer, in the lineup, the Leafs’ third line would gain legitimacy, akin to the impact Ryan O’Reilly had in the previous year. The proposed healthy roster alignment paints a picture of a formidable Leafs team:


  • Matthew Knies – Auston Matthews – Calle Jarnkrok
  • Tyler Bertuzzi – John Tavares – Mitch Marner
  • Nick Robertson – Elias Lindholm – Max Domi
  • Noah Gregor – David Kampf – Bobby McMann


  • Morgan Rielly – Chris Tanev
  • Noah Hanifin – Timothy Liljegren
  • Mark Giordano – Jake McCab

Tanev, envisioned as a steady top-pairing defensive defenseman, would complement Rielly, potentially mirroring the successful partnerships of Ilya Lyubushkin or Luke Schenn from previous years.

The Verdict

The overarching question remains: does the proposed trade offer sufficient value to entice the Flames to part with Hanifin, Tanev, and Lindholm? Is it justifiable to trade Nylander when a long-term contract could be on the horizon?

While acknowledging the reluctance to embark on another playoff run with the “core-four,” the proposal advocates for utilizing the team’s best asset to secure a stronger, more balanced roster. In conclusion, the suggested trade has the potential to enhance the Leafs’ championship prospects, providing them with a genuine shot at hoisting the coveted Stanley Cup.

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