NHL Trade Deadline: Players the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Target This Week

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NHL Trade Deadline: Players the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Target This Week
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With the Toronto Maple Leafs not scheduled to hit the ice again until April 4 against the Philadelphia Flyers, GM Dave Nonis now has a few days to assess just what he wants to do with this team.

The trade deadline is this coming Wednesday, and considering the type of media storm that always happens around the trade deadline in Toronto, Leafs fans should brace themselves for a flood of rumors over the course of the next few days.

Who should the team be looking at ahead of the deadline though?

Should Toronto be taking a run at Roberto Luongo or Miikka Kiprusoff? Would the Leafs be smart to try and add some more size up front? Or is pursuing a top-four, shutdown defenseman the best course of action?

Here's a list of potential targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs ahead of Wednesday's trade deadline.

 

Jan Hejda, D, Colorado Avalanche

Let's go off the board with the first possible target.

Jan Hejda is a 34-year-old Czech native who is now in his seventh season playing professional hockey in North America.

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Being a stay-at-home defenseman who is solid in his own end, can handle top-four responsibilities and racks up the hits and blocked shot, Hejda would be a great fit in Toronto.

This season, Hejda is second among the team's starting defensemen with a player rating of just minus-three, despite the team being minus-25 overall in goal differential.

Furthermore, Hejda is second on the team in both hits (74) and blocked shots (80).

And despite him being fifth among defensemen in ice time for the Avs, he trails team leader Matt Hunwick by just one minute and 26 seconds, which indicates Colorado uses more of a "defense-by-committee" system, as opposed to a top pairing that eats 25 or more minutes a night.

At just $3.25 million per season (he's signed through the 2014-15 campaign), Hejda would also be a fairly cheap option to bolster Toronto's back end.

Finally, with Colorado struggling right now and last in the Western Conference, dealing a 34-year-old veteran for a young defensive prospect (something the Leafs have in abundance) may be appealing to Colorado. This is especially true since their entire core is still relatively young.

 

Mark Giordano, D, Calgary Flames

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When the Calgary Flames dealt their longtime captain Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues, the team all but announced that they'd be sellers at this year's trade deadline.

That could be good news for Toronto, especially if the Flames are willing to sell off Mark Giordano.

Signed for the next three years, at a shade over $4 million per season, Giordano is another solid top-four defenseman that the Leafs could use moving forward.

So far this season, Giordano has averaged over 23 minutes of ice time per game, and is third among all Flames players with 46 hits, while he sits second on the team with 63 blocked shots.

With Calgary most likely in rebuild mode, Giordano could probably be had for a package of mid-level prospects.

The only obstacle to acquiring the 29-year-old Toronto native would be convincing him to waive his no-movement clause.

 

Keith Yandle, D, Phoenix Coyotes

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Another option that may be available to Toronto is Coyotes defenseman Keith Yandle. 

According to Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun, Yandle is available:

The only impact blueliner available is Keith Yandle of the Phoenix Coyotes, who wouldn't mind shedding his $5.25 million salary.

With the Coyotes having just re-signed defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to a lengthy contract extension worth $5.5 million per season, it's not likely that they'll keep a second defenseman making over $5 million a year (keep in mind Zbynek Michalek is also scheduled to make $4 million for each of the next two seasons).

Considering how much salary Toronto is set to this offseason, now is the time to pull the trigger on this kind of big move.

Keith Yandle is a defenseman who can play in all three zones and will give you well over 20 minutes of ice time per game.

While Yandle would certainly be the most expensive of these three options, he'd be more than worth the cost and could really help the Leafs in their own end, as well as on the powerplay and in the offensive zone.

 

Conclusion

I'm sure some people have gotten to this point and are asking themselves why on earth I don't have a single goaltender on this list.

It's simple.

With the resources Toronto has to use on the trade market right now, using those pieces to acquire a defenseman will have a much greater impact on this team than picking up another goalie.

Sure, Roberto Luongo is a great netminder and would most likely be better than James Reimer. But how much better would he be?

Reimer's stats are more than respectable and it's not likely that Luongo could be much better.

Bringing in a guy like Hejda, or Giordano or Yandle, however, would provide a great deal more to this Toronto club than a Mike Kostka possibly can.

Using the trade bait they have efficiently should be Toronto's No. 1 goal.

No need to sell the future in order to bring in a goaltender that only provides a marginal upgrade between the pipes.

 

Who do you want to see the Leafs go after? Think they need to make a move for a forward or goaltender? Sound off in the comments section.

 

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