Toronto Maple Leafs followers have grown nervous after their club lurched through an inconsistent 4-4-2 performance in October. Some pundits believe changes could be coming if things don't improve.
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons pointed out the production of core players Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander has been below expectations. He suggests a major shakeup could depend on their performance in their upcoming games against Philadelphia, Boston, Carolina and Vegas.
James Mirtle of The Athletic suggested a trade might be necessary to snap the Leafs out of their doldrums. With Jake Muzzin on long-term injured reserve, Mirtle indicated GM Kyle Dubas could use most of his $5.625-million cap hit to bring in some help. He also believed Dubas could free up more cap room by shopping an underperforming player like Justin Holl or Alex Kerfoot.
Dubas could be in the market for a mobile right-side defenseman. On Oct. 29, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reported the Leafs had an interest in Ethan Bear before the Carolina Hurricanes shipped him to the Vancouver Canucks. However, they weren't willing to part with a draft pick.
Mirtle noted that Jakob Chychrun is available, but the Arizona Coyotes have set a high asking price, plus he plays mostly on the left side. Other suggested targets include Anaheim's John Klingberg, Columbus' Vladislav Gavrikov, New Jersey's Damon Severson and Chychrun's teammate Shayne Gostisbehere.
Landing one of those blueliners, however, could end up costing the Leafs one of their five picks remaining in the 2023 draft. It could also mean parting with a promising young player such as Nick Robertson.