Maple Leafs: 3 trade candidates entering 2023-24 training camp – ClutchPoints

General manager Brad Treliving has had an interesting start to his time with the Toronto Maple Leafs. After some controversial moves at the draft and during the first day of free agency, Treliving has seemingly found his groove over the past few weeks.

On the second day of free agency, Treliving signed both Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi to add some much-needed grit. However, his big move happened just last week, when he signed franchise center Auston Matthews to a four-year extension that makes him the highest-paid player in the league. Securing Matthews for the future was the Leafs’ top priority this offseason, and Treliving accomplished that goal. He also re-signed coach Sheldon Keefe on Wednesday, although that one may draw more mixed reactions.

Nonetheless, it’s safe to assume that Treliving isn’t done this offseason, in fact another move is all but guaranteed. Toronto is currently around $3 million over the salary cap even with LTIR relief, and without it, they’re more than $14 million over. As such, the Leafs need to make at least one more move just to be cap compliant.

With that in mind, here are three potential trade candidates for the Maple Leafs as training camp approaches.

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3. Timothy Liljegren, D

Liljegren was the No. 17 pick in the 2017 draft, but has yet to truly break through at the NHL level. He has 11 goals and 42 points in 141 games with the Leafs, and has spent the vast majority of his time on the third pairing. He’s still relatively young at 24, but with this being the final year of his contract, it could be make-or-break.

Liljegren makes just $1.4 million this season, so the Leafs would have to shed more salary even if they traded him. With him being arbitration-eligible after the season, though, the Leafs could cut their losses and avoid the headache. Admittedly, this move feels like it would fit better at the deadline than the offseason, as the Leafs could likely flip him for win-now assets more effectively then. However, we’re working with slim pickings here, so Liljegren earns a spot on the list.

2. T.J. Brodie, D

The Leafs have put themselves in an interesting position on the back end. Their blue line is serviceable, but certainly not one of the NHL’s best. Due to their cap situation, though, they can’t really add much in the way of talent. One solution to this problem could be trading Brodie, who makes the second-most out of any Leafs defenseman at $5 million.

Brodie has been a solid blue-liner in his three seasons in Toronto, mainly thriving in his defensive game. However, his best years are behind him at 33 years old, and he’s entering the final year of his contract. All things considered, he’s one of the Leafs’ ideal trade candidates.

If the Maple Leafs were to trade Brodie, they should look to get younger and better on the blue line, if possible. They are obviously still competing for a cup, and if they’re trading away one of their top defenseman, they’d want some win-now assets in return. The Leafs likely don’t want to trade Brodie, but their cap situation may force their hand.

1. William Nylander, RW

This one is surely going to be controversial, but it’s definitely a possibility to consider. Nylander has been a huge part of the Leafs’ success in recent years, and has been arguably the best playoff performer of the “Big 4.” He’s also coming off the best season of his career, in which he scored 40 goals and 87 points. In a perfect world, Toronto wouldn’t even consider trading Nylander.

As we all know, though, this is not a perfect world. Nylander and the Leafs are reportedly far apart on extension talks, with him seeking at least $10 million and the team wanting to keep it under $9 million. The Swedish forward has more recently said he wants to stay in Toronto, which is definitely a positive update, but logistical concerns still remain.

It seems like the negotiations between Nylander and the Leafs will be a standoff. The most likely scenario is that they meet somewhere in the middle, but if Nylander’s demands are too high for the Leafs, then they must consider trading him to avoid losing him for nothing. It is worth noting, though, that Nylander has a 10-team no-trade clause this season, which obviously limits who the Leafs can send him too. Even with that, though, pretty much every team in the league would have at least some interest in him.

Now that Matthews has signed, it bodes well for Nylander staying with the Leafs. Until pen is put to paper, though, the possibility of a trade is certainly there.

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