Off we go on another episode of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Trade Targets. This series has taken off with recent stops covering the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, and Anaheim Ducks. For my latest segment, let’s head to the City of Brotherly Love and showcase potential Philadelphia Flyers’ trade candidates that the Maple Leafs could have an interest in leading up to the trade deadline.
The Maple Leafs sit with a 15-5-5 record after torching through November. Even with the team dealing with a ton of adversity with major injuries to their defense and some underperforming players up front, they have gone 8-0-2 in their last 10 games. The Flyers, on the other hand, have compiled an 8-10-5 record, good for second last in their division. First up, a Flyers forward who is a coach’s dream:
This trade would be extremely tough to pull off but make no mistake about it, Flyers forward Scott Laughton would be a perfect fit for the Maple Leafs lineup.
Laughton loves being a Flyer and is a major part of the team’s core in Philadelphia. Trading for him would have to be an offer their management team could not refuse, and the Maple Leafs would have to potentially overpay in any deal. This shouldn’t hold them back, as his in-your-face style of play and the intangibles he brings to the table would complement this Maple Leafs’ group tremendously.
Laughton’s a proven leader who at 28 years old is still in the prime of his career. This season he’s registered seven points in 19 games and is a player who the coach can send out in all situations. The Oakville, ON native averages over two minutes per game on both the Flyers’ penalty-kill and power-play units. His versatility and ability to play in all situations makes him an attractive player for the Maple Leafs.
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His contract is also appealing as Laughton makes $3 million against the cap and is signed long-term through the 2025-26 season. With the Maple Leafs having eight of their current rostered forwards heading into free agency next summer, he’d provide some stability to their group for years to come.
Laughton is battle-tested, he plays the game the right way and while his career high in points is only 32, playing alongside John Tavares and Mitch Marner on the team’s second line could do wonders for his numbers.
Even if he costs the Maple Leafs a top prospect in return, with the acquisition security of his long-term contract, Leafs’ general manager (GM) Kyle Dubas should check in on the Flyers to see if there’s interest in moving him ahead of this season’s trade deadline.
With Cam Atkinson, Travis Konecny, and Kevin Hayes all way too expensive for the Maple Leafs’ taste, Owen Tippett is someone worthy of zoning in on. He’s a local kid who is signed to a reasonable contract at $1.5 million for this season and next.
Tippett has also enjoyed some more playing time this season in Philly after heading to the Flyers in a blockbuster deal involving Claude Giroux and the Florida Panthers in 2021-22.
Tippett is a shooter who flourishes in an offensive setting where he can unleash his screaming wrister. He’s seen some solid time on the team’s power play this season, averaging over three minutes a game with the man advantage. So far in 2022-23, the former first-round pick has registered six goals and 10 points in 18 games. With 31 hits registered, Tippett doesn’t shy away from contact. He has the potential to become a power forward, and the Maple Leafs could certainly use one of those.
Not necessarily an ideal fit as he’s right-handed and there’s been a ton of speculation brewing the Leafs are looking for a left-handed shot forward to add to their group. Regardless, we’ve seen with the likes of Calle Jarnkrok this season, head coach Sheldon Keefe isn’t shy to move a forward to his off wing if it means he’s going to see some more playing time. Tippett would be a solid replacement for the likes of Pierre Engvall and Alexander Kerfoot moving forward for the Maple Leafs and with the team’s prospect capital, they’d be able to meet the asking price of Flyers’ management. If they have interest in doing so, remains to be seen at this point.
Even with the recent acquisition of Conor Timmins and the impressive play of Mac Hollowell, expect to see the Maple Leafs troll the waters for veteran defensemen leading up to the trade deadline. Flyers’ blueliner Justin Braun is certainly a candidate you can add to this mix.
Braun plays a simple game and doesn’t do anything flashy. He is also a shot-blocking machine and last season finished with 121 blocked shots. His career of 161 came a few seasons back as a member of the San Jose Sharks.
Braun is someone the Maple Leafs could acquire for a mid-level prospect or late-round pick before the trade deadline. He’s expected to be available as the Flyers are likely going to sell off their pending free agents for some assets. The team is struggling and will likely be very active leading up to the deadline as management’s vision should be focused on rebuilding.
With the Maple Leafs’ injuries and uncertainty on their back end, Braun could bring some stability and another experienced option. The 35-year-old has appeared in 813 regular season games and another 119 Stanley Cup Playoff games. That’s almost double the amount of the current Maple Leafs’ blue line. At $1 million against the cap, he’s a cheap option and someone Dubas should keep on his radar.
Toronto and Philadelphia don’t have a long history of making trades together, however, this year could be different. The Flyers are struggling, with no end in sight, meanwhile the Maple Leafs are one of the NHL’s hottest teams and are expected to be buyers leading up to the trade deadline. Laughton would be a huge get for Dubas, with Tippett and Braun also interesting trade candidates.