What the Maple Leafs get in trade for Ilya Lyubushkin

Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving discusses the deal that brought in much-needed right-handed defenceman, Ilya Lyubushkin.

As the NHL trade deadline inches closer by the day, Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving and his staff have been negotiating from a position of relative weakness compared to some other teams looking to add to their roster. The reality is Toronto isn’t armed with a ton of draft capital. Their prospect pool — outside of players like Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten — also doesn’t move the needle enough for some teams.

So far, the Maple Leafs don’t appear interested in moving their 2024 first-round pick to upgrade this version of the group. With that in mind, and Chris Tanev off the market, Toronto elected to acquire Ilya Lyubushkin from the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday night, in exchange for a 2025 third-round pick and a 2024 sixth-round pick that went to the Carolina Hurricanes (who retained 25 per cent of Lyubushkin’s contract, while the Ducks retained another 50 per cent).


Lyubushkin has been acquired for one reason, and one reason only: to provide Toronto with a third-pairing defenceman who plays with push-back and can block shots. He won’t move the needle offensively. He keeps things very simple with the puck on his stick. He provides a low-risk approach, but his defensive detail will range at times.

Here’s my up-to-date report on Lyubushkin:


Here’s a clip of what Lyubushkin can provide when he’s at his best:

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Although I do believe he had an opportunity to kill the zone entry at his blue line with a better gap, he adjusted as the play progressed. Notice how Lyubushkin is about to be “picked” by a Montreal player driving towards the crease. He fights off the check and fronts the shooter. His shot block, from a high-danger area of the ice, allows the Ducks to escape their zone and head up ice on the attack.


Lyubushkin is an average-plus skater with the same kind of agility. When his reads (and timing) are marginally off, then sequences like the following occur:

[brightcove videoID=6348012930112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]

In this sequence, Lyubushkin ends up on his weak side. He clearly isn’t comfortable when he has to defend the left side of the ice. Columbus has numbers off the rush, but they don’t enter the Ducks zone with a dangerous look. Things break down for Lyubushkin when the puck ends up on the stick of the Blue Jackets player in his lane. Instead of gapping up, he retreats and attempts to block the pass with his leg. He’s off balance and out of position — essentially checking nobody and also not taking away the passing lane.

(Note: I can’t let No. 4 Cam Fowler off the hook in this sequence either. The entire play was hard to watch)


After giving up a third-round pick (2024) and a sixth-round pick (2026) to acquire Lyubushkin, here’s what the Leafs draft board looks like for the next three years:

The board speaks for itself. Toronto owns only four picks in the first three rounds of the next three drafts. What’s worse is the reality that they only have two picks in the first two rounds between 2024 and 2026!

It’s very difficult to consummate trades in the NHL with this kind of draft capital, combined with their overall lack of grade “A” prospects. We’ll soon find out how much that limits Treliving and the Leafs ahead of next week’s trade deadline.

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