The Toronto Maple Leafs have not pulled the trigger on the major move expected before Monday’s NHL Trade Deadline, but may have better positioned themselves to do so by acquiring forward Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets for a 2022 conditional seventh round pick on Friday.
Nash is a solid depth forward with playoff experience as a member of the Boston Bruins and Blue Jackets, but due to suffering a knee injury earlier in the week, the 31-year-old is expected to be out the rest of the regular season. Columbus placed Nash on injured reserve after being injured, which means that the Leafs had to fit him under their salary cap to be compliant.
Once that was accomplished, Toronto placed Nash on long-term injured reserve, which clears most of the forward’s $2.75 million salary to be used before Monday's trade deadline. What is unknown is whether the Leafs also placed goalie Frederik Andersen on LTIR in advance of the deadline,
“There's a move there. I think it had to corresponded with the Nash acquisition, but I don't know enough about those details. I'm sure when (Leafs GM) Kyle (Dubas) gets a chance to talk after the deadline, he'll sort all that out." Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said after the club’s morning skate. "I think the easiest way to describe it is there's no timeline to (Andersen’s) injury. It's just really a matter of Fred being comfortable with where he's at and how he's feeling."
With Andersen’s uncertain health status, the Leafs would be able to open up an additional $5 million in cap space if he was to sit out for the rest of the regular season, which would allow them to add the top-six forward they have been long rumored to be interested in adding, and/or a depth defenseman and goaltender.
Keefe indicated that there would be no lineup changes from Wednesday against the Senators, who have won three of seven games against Toronto. Alex Galchenyuk will skate on the top line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner, Zach Hyman will move to the second line with John Tavares and Ilya Mikheyev, Alexander Barabanov moved into Mikheyev’s spot on the checking line with Pierre Engvall and Wayne Simmonds, leaving the fourth line of Joe Thornton, Alex Kerfoot and Jason Spezza intact.
“I feel good about how (Alex has) done with John and how that line with (William Nylander) has worked out. I think he's brought a lot to that. The line is broken up just with Will's absence, so it's a good opportunity here for me now to give him a look on a different line and see how that goes.” Keefe said. “Hyman with Matthews and Marner was rolling pretty well and I have an abundance of confidence that that group anytime can go well together, but I think it is important for us here with the games we have remaining in the regular season to try some different things and be sure that we've got the right mix by the time we get through it.”
Jack Campbell will get the start for the Leafs, hoping to register his 11th consecutive victory,
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