The Toronto Maple Leafs are at the top of the NHL standings, and they have one of the best blue-lines in the NHL.
With Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, TJ Brodie, Rasmus Sandin, Timothy Liljegren, Travis Dermott and Justin Holl, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seven players who could all handle top-four minuets.
That, by definition, makes them one of the deepest blue-lines in hockey.
They might not be the absolute best, and the way the team plays does often sacrifice some defense in favor of offense, but the Leafs blue-line is very good.
I am not against upgrading it, but if rumours are true and Jakob Chychrun is available, he’s not the player the Leafs need to get. And no, you aren’t having deja vu. I did write about this a few months ago, but I figured with the Chychrun now seemingly on the block, that it was worth revisiting.
Toronto Maple Leafs Blue-Line
Chychrun is a solid player whose value is unknown because he plays on such a terrible team and always has. With 41 points in 51 games last year, and decent defensive stats, he’s clearly a star, but there is risk when betting on a player who is the best player on a crappy team.
His cheap cap hit and the fact that he’s signed long-term make him a very valuable trade piece for the Coyotes, and probably one of the most expensive to acquire players available out of anyone who could plausibly be traded this year.
But he isn’t what the Leafs need. (stats naturalstattrick.com).
If the Leafs blue-line could get better defensively, or a little tougher, without taking away from what makes it great (it’s mobility and puck-moving abilities) that would be great.
But where exactly is the upside in spending a ton of assets to acquire another left-shooting puck-moving defenseman when the Leafs have Rielly, Muzzin and Sandin already in the fold?
In a best case scenario, Muzzin and Sandin swap roles as one grows and the other declines. But in no way do the Leafs want to subtract Muzzin’s Cup Winning experience or his grit from the lineup.
Chychrun might not even be preferable to Sandin either, if you take all factors into consideration. Sandin is two years young, four times cheaper and hasn’t gotten anywhere close to the opportunities Chychrun has gotten in his career.
Now, Chychrun is likely better. But is he four times better? Is he good enough to use all your trade assets, all your cap space and to also demote Jake Muzzin and trade Rasmus Sanin? Hell no he isn’t.
If the Leafs were to make a move for another left-shooting puck-moving defenseman, he’d have to be a massive upgrade and a slam dunk. Chychrun is neither of those things.
The Leafs need to look elsewhere to improve.