The Toronto Maple Leafs began this week with concerns over their blueline depth with Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie sidelined by injuries. Placing Morgan Rielly on long-term injured reserve with a knee injury could finally push management into the trade market.
Speculation was brewing in recent weeks over how the Leafs would address the absence of Muzzin, who's out until at least February with a cervical spine injury. Pundits have mentioned the Arizona Coyotes' Jakob Chychrun and the Anaheim Ducks' John Klingberg and Kevin Shattenkirk as trade options.
Sportsnet's Luke Fox recently suggested the San Jose Sharks' Erik Karlsson but admitted his $11.5-million cap hit and full no-movement clause are significant sticking points. The Toronto Star's Nick Kypreos proposed a scenario where San Jose retains half of Karlsson's cap hit and take on Muzzin's contract. However, that's unlikely to entice the Sharks into moving him to Toronto provided he's willing to waive his clause to join the Leafs.
Fox also brought up pending unrestricted free agents such as the Minnesota Wild's Matt Dumba, the New York Islanders' Scott Mayfield and the New Jersey Devils' Damon Severson. Those blueliners won't be shopped as long as their respective teams remain in playoff contention. Should they become available, their clubs could prefer waiting until the March 3 trade deadline to maximize their value.
Given Toronto's salary-cap limitations, they could have their eye on a more affordable option. Fox's colleague Elliotte Friedman cited sources telling him the Maple Leafs were interested in Conor Timmins. The 24-year-old Arizona Coyotes defenseman played with Leafs blueliner Rasmus Sandin with the OHL's Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in 2017-18.