Dubas wants to take time to assess Maple Leafs' needs before trade deadline

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas talks about his desire to see the team play more games at full health before making any decisions on moving players at the trade deadline.

Kyle Dubas isn't in a rush to make a deal before the trade deadline as the Toronto Maple Leafs prepare for a marathon finish to their season.

Speaking to reporters on Sunday, the Leafs general manager said he wants to continue to evaluate the team as constructed-- provided there are no more significant injuries-- before deciding the approach he takes ahead of the March 21 trade deadline.

"I'd like to give our team a chance to roll as is constructed if we can get there," Dubas said. "And then if not, I think we'll have to take as much of the information as we have and use that to dictate what we want to do with the team."

As he has done in the past, Dubas said he would prefer to acquire players with term but the lack of salary cap flexibility likely changes that approach. He also admits the team wants to give Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren some runway before deciding on what his approach will be at the deadline.

"I would love to be able to sit right now and say this is the one thing we're going to specifically need but because the cap space, not just for us, but for most teams in our position is limited. When you go out and acquire somebody, you're probably done at that point." Dubas explains. "We probably don't have a whole lot of bullets in the chamber here so we're going to have to pick and choose as we set our sights."

The Leafs are going to have Nick Ritchie and Kyle Clifford report to the Toronto Marlies was the team looks to accrue some cap space before the trade deadline.

When it comes to the team's draft capital for 2022, Dubas would love to give director of amateur scouting Wes Clarke and his staff as many picks as possible but also has to recognize the team's current position.

"We have our first and our second and then we've kind of got the full board moving ahead. We're in that win-now mode so if we have to deal from that pool to do something that we think can help us, great," Dubas explained. "Ideally, I'd like to keep the picks so that we're trying not to be short term or confine ourselves to any window and we're not going to be able to just pick in the second and fifth round every time."

When asked if Josh Ho-Sang could be a possibility for to sign an NHL contract with the team, Dubas said the team will be keeping an eye on how he plays for Canada at the Beijing Olympics before making a final decision. He also points to AHL veterans like Joseph Blandisi, Curtis Douglas and Antti Suomela as players the team is monitoring.

"There are a few players on AHL deals that have played very well there. They've done a good job down there with the Marlies of getting those guys up and running" Dubas said about Ho-Sang. "Josh is the most individually talented of the group, as we all know, but the others have different elements that I think can help a team as well.

"As we head towards the deadline, we have to have those players on NHL contracts by then in order to have them eligible to play and be in the playoffs."

The Leafs sit third in the Atlantic Division with a 29-10-3 record but have games in hand on both the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. They return to action Monday night against the Carolina Hurricanes with puck drop set for 7:00 p.m. ET on Sportsnet.

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