In sifting through the long list of Toronto Maple Leafs trades processed over the past 10 years, a few things stand out.
For one, as much as fans and critics fawn over these team-to-team transactions — some not-so-shocking news: nothing does page views on Sportsnet.ca like trade stories do — the vast majority of trades have little to no consequence on the success of either team. Salary dumps; low-risk, low-payoff rentals; and minor leaguers crowd trade histories.
(I recall Dion Phaneuf’s 2016 midseason trade from Toronto to Ottawa doing silly traffic on our site. Nine pieces were involved! Sports talk and blog fodder for days! Yet outside of Phaneuf’s contributions to the Sens’ remarkable 2017 playoff run, the total impact of all the players involved to their new teams was minimal.)
Secondly, we are reminded how rare it is to win a trade when dealing within your own conference. Seven of our top 10 Leafs deals of the 2010s were consummated with a Western Conference team.
Finally, as hard as it is to knock a one-for-one hockey trade out the park, those are the ones that can really soar — or sting. And it’s a pair of intra-conference, one-for-one trades that take silver and gold in these rankings.
(Note: While we support February’s trade for Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford, L.A.’s full return is still unknown, so we withheld judgment.)
Here is a list of the best deals, from the Leafs’ point of view, Toronto has made since 2010.
10. Dubas stacks up by trading down
To Toronto: 2018 first-round pick (Rasmus Sandin), 2018 third-round pick (Semyon Der-Arguchintsev)
To St. Louis: 2018 first-round pick (25, Dominik Bokk)
June 22, 2018
Who knows? Maybe Bokk — a 20-year-old prospect since traded by the Blues to Carolina — will eventually move to North America and light it up, but right now the German is putting up modest numbers in the Swedish league.
The Leafs, on the other hand, have already begun reaping the rewards of trading down in the first round of the 2018 draft. Dubas exchanged the 25th-overall pick for the 29th and 76th. Sandin, 20, made the big club out of camp in ’19 and already looks destined for Toronto’s top four, while the diminutive Der-Arguchintsev put up a silly-good 75 points in 55 games with the Peterborough Petes this season and is begging for a greater challenge.
9. Somebody to hit somebody
To Toronto: Jake Muzzin
To Los Angeles: Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi’s rights, 2019 first-round pick (Tobias Bjornfot)
Jan. 28, 2019
While it’s impossible to fully evaluate this 2019 pre-deadline swap until the three Kings develop to their full potential, Muzzin is far and away the most valuable piece of the deal right now. The fact that string-puller Kyle Dubas re-signed Muzzin for four seasons beyond his year-and-half rental period has underscored how well the trade has paid off for the Leafs, who secured a pure shutdown defender with leadership, sandpaper and a booming shot.
Bjornfot, 18, was actually having a lovely AHL rookie campaign, putting up 19 points and a plus-13 rating in 44 games on the Ontario Reign’s back end and earning a brief NHL call-up. Power forward Grundstrom, 22, remains an excellent AHLer who has yet to carve an NHL niche. And Durzi, 21, signed with the Kings and jumped to the AHL after five OHL seasons.
8. Flipping a scratched forward into a stud prospect
To Toronto: 2019 fourth-round pick (Nick Abruzzese)
To St. Louis: Nikita Soshnikov
Feb. 16, 2018
Soshnikov, 26, was the type of energetic, feisty forward whose value likely got trumped up by plying his trade in hockey’s busiest media market. Toronto didn’t have enough ice time for all its depth wingers in 2018, so Lou Lamoriello traded the Russian for a fourth. Hampered by injuries, “Sosh” played all of 17 NHL games and scored just once over two seasons with the Blues before tearing up the KHL with Salavat Yulayev this season.
Toronto’s delayed fourth-rounder, however, was used by Dubas to secure what appears to be a steal. Abruzzese, a centreman, wowed in his rookie year with Harvard and is on our radar as one of the most talented prospects in the Leafs’ pipeline.
7. Burkie in a blowout
To Toronto: Cody Franson, Matthew Lombardi
To Nashville: Brett Lebda, Robert Slaney, 2013 fourth-round pick (Zachary Pochiro)
July 3, 2011
An edgy right-shot defender, Franson would devote the bulk of his four most productive NHL campaigns to the Maple Leafs, logging significant minutes and chipping in 21 to 33 assists in each of his seasons in Canada. The Leafs also got a year of service out of depth forward Lombardi.
David Poile, who was looking for futures from Brian Burke, watched Lebda, Slaney and Pochiro combine for a grand total of zero games played in Nashville.
Worse for the Preds? Poile rented Franson (plus Mike Santorelli) back from tank-job Toronto at the 2015 deadline in exchange for a first-round pick, Brenden Leipsic and Olli Jokinen. (Nashville’s playoff hopes were quickly extinguished in six games by the eventual champion Blackhawks.)
6. Two draft picks are greater than one
To Toronto: 2015 second-round pick (Travis Dermott), 2015 third-round pick (Martins Dzierkals)
To Columbus: 2015 first-round pick (Gabriel Carlsson)
June 26, 2015
Another great example of Toronto trading down in the draft and doubling its chances of uncovering a real player.
While 23-year-old Columbus defence prospect Carlsson has underwhelmed for a first-rounder — three NHL assists scattered over 23 games in four seasons — last time we saw the Leafs, second-rounder Dermott logged more ice time than anyone else in an important March 10 victory over Tampa Bay. Dzierkals, 22, didn’t stick on this side of the pond and is playing in the Finnish Elite League, but the slick-skating, puck-moving Dermott (a pending RFA) still has a chance to be a top-four fixture in Toronto for years to come.
5. The cross-country blockbuster
To Toronto: Dion Phaneuf, Keith Aulie, Fredrik Sjostrom
To Calgary: Matt Stajan, Ian White, Jamal Mayers, Niklas Hagman
Jan. 31, 2010
Should Phaneuf have been named captain so quick? Probably not. Did he end up getting overpaid at the end of his Toronto tenure? Sure. But that doesn’t subtract from the fact the Leafs got the best player in their 2010, nine-player blockbuster with Calgary. The hard-nosed defenceman played huge minutes for six seasons.
Toronto also sold high on Hagman. After two 20-goal showings with Toronto, he never scored more than 11 Calgary.
Of the trade’s other components, Stajan was easily the most enduring figure, lasting in Calgary through 2017-18 and becoming a regraded leader in the room.
4. Fred-die! Fred-die!
To Toronto: Frederik Andersen
To Anaheim: 2016 first-round pick (Sam Steel), 2017 conditional second-round pick (Maxime Comtois)
June 20, 2016
Easily the biggest win-win Maple Leafs deal of the decade.
Thanks to Lamoriello’s work here, the Maple Leafs secured their best goaltender in a decade (previously, Ed Belfour) and a much-needed security blanket for a young squad’s defensive woes. The workhorse Andersen set a new franchise record for regular-season wins (38) in 2017-18 and became the fastest European-born goalie to reach 200 wins earlier this season.
Meanwhile, in Disneyland, Andersen’s departure allowed John Gibson to thrive in a No. 1 role, and both Steel and Comtois have a fantastic shot at being core Ducks forwards for years to come.
3. Getting younger and faster
To Toronto: Joffrey Lupul, Jake Gardiner, 2013 fourth-round pick (Fredrik Bergvik)
To Anaheim: Francois Beauchemin
Feb. 9, 2011
The Ducks would get four-and-half more great years out of respected, stay-at-home, veteran d-man Beauchemin in his Anaheim return, including a stellar plus-62 run from 2012 to 2015 that included two deep post-season runs.
But in Lupul and Gardiner, Burke brought in two young, key pieces that would transcend to top-line essentials at their peak. (Prospect Bergvik never left the Swedish pro circuit.) Forever playing injury-shortened seasons, Lupul hit a career-high 67 points in 2011-12, earned a trip to the all-star game and thrived with Phil Kessel.
Before a bad back got the better of him, Gardiner skated eight seasons with the Leafs, reaching a high of 52 points and helping turn a turbulent roster into a playoff team.
2. He gets the puck
To Toronto: Zach Hyman
To Florida: Gregg McKegg
June 19, 2015
Absolutely, McKegg would use Florida has a destination to establish himself as an NHL-calibre depth centre, and the 27-year-old has now carved a nice veteran niche for himself down the Rangers’ lineup.
But the still-improving Hyman, also 27, has been a fixture in a Maple Leafs’ top six that was on the brink of driving his hometown organization to a fourth consecutive playoff appearance. Even though he’s paid to forecheck and kill penalties, Hyman has posted back-to-back 21-goal campaigns and draws the best out of elite centremen Auston Matthews and John Tavares.
At the time of the deal, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan was working through a three-month transitional period between firing general manager Dave Nonis and hiring Lamoriello, so Dubas and Mark Hunter were acting as interim GMs. Florida’s Dale Tallon threw in a conditional 2017 seventh-round draft pick if Hyman refused to sign in Toronto.
Yeah, Hyman’s probably better than the pick.
1. Burke’s parting gift to Leafs Nation
To Toronto: James van Riemsdyk
To Philadelphia: Luke Schenn
June 23, 2012
The last NHL Draft Brian Burke worked as Toronto’s GM was one of his best. Not only did he surprise with the excellent selection of defenceman Morgan Rielly higher than anticipated (No. 5) but he and then-Flyers GM Paul Holmgren plotted a one-for-one deal to unite the Schenn brothers in Philadelphia.
While defenceman Luke did play three-and-a-half decent seasons in Philly, Toronto got James van Riemsdyk’s prime scoring years. The silky-handed left winger thrived alongside elite righties like Kessel and, later, Mitch Marner. JVR finished off power plays with ease, hitting the 30-goal and 60-point marks twice each before walking back to Philadelphia as a free agent in 2018.