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unexpected : Joseph wall is back today from injury welcome back Maple star

TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 29: Joseph Woll #60 of the Toronto Maple Leafs walks down the hallway to the locker room ahead of playing the Washington Capitals at the Scotiabank Arena on January 29, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed the press conference held by Toronto Maple Leafs’ management and media on Friday and discussed their big takeaways. Friedman suggested that it was clear MLSE CEO Keith Pelley is in charge, but is leaving GM Brad Treliving and President Brendan Shanahan in charge of making on-ice changes. And, there will be changes. Both talked about how this is no longer the time for patience, and while neither specifically said the “Core Four” was changing, there wasn’t much love for how much the group of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, and John Tavares had accomplished. All were given years to push the needle. They were unable to do so.

Marek and Friedman then turned to the idea of untouchables on the roster and who, if anyone, is safe. Both agreed that Matthews was the only player off-limits. Marek didn’t see Nylander as someone the team would move out, but Friedman suggested if the offer was out there and it was solid from an NHL team, the Maple Leafs had to consider it.

With only one, maybe two players on the Leafs’ untouchables list, that leaves Marner, Tavares, and defenseman Morgan Rielly on the table in offseason trade talks.

Tavares, Marner, and Rielly Being Discussed in Trade Talks?

It was reported by Nick Kypreos that teams have already reached out to the Maple Leafs about Marner. He’s got a no-move clause and full leverage to stop a trade, but other clubs are interested, even if his contract climbs to $100 million. He’s clearly a talented player capable of hitting the 100-point mark. Those types of forwards don’t become available on the trade market every day. If you can acquire one in trade, it makes sense to hear that teams are curious about the asking price.

Tavares might be a harder sell. He certainly doesn’t want to leave, but the Leafs could potentially move him if he’s agreeable, should they choose to retain salary on the final year of his deal. If Tavares is told the Leafs are moving on, there might be a matter of pride involved and a desire by Tavares to prove the organization wrong.

Rielly becomes an interesting player here. He is arguably the team’s only top-pairing defenseman. If Toronto is open to moving him, it likely means the team intends to completely rebuild their blue line. TJ Brodie is a pending UFA as are Ilya Lyubushkin, Joel Edmundson, and Mark Giordano. Jake McCabe has one year remaining, Timothy Liljegren is a pending RFA, and the Leafs can’t exactly build around Conor Timmins and Simon Benoit.

What Kind of Trade Will the Maple Leafs Be Looking At?

If the idea is to trade one, maybe two of their core four, and the Leafs are open to moving Rielly (who also has a no-move clause), it seems plausible to think that the focus is on defense and goaltending. While Treliving and Shanahan both talked about the lack of goal-scoring in the playoffs being a huge problem, Ilya Samsonov likely isn’t returning and Treliving pointed to continued injury concerns related to Joseph Woll.

If Toronto can move Marner, the assumption here is they will target a team willing to trade a defenseman and a goaltender. A proposal from Sportsnet’s Ryan Dixon  involved the Leafs making a major deal with the Calgary Flames. Toronto would get back Jacob Markstrom and Rasmus Andersson. No reports confirm these two teams have had conversations about such a trade, but Markstrom is open to moving on from the Flames and Andersson is the kind of blueliner Toronto would like and has a history with Treliving.

If Rielly were moved, Toronto might be looking for a different type of defender and the potential to replace some of the scoring that leaves if and when Marner goes elsewhere. Treliving talked about the need for playoff-style goals and Shanahan mentioned there is a big difference between producing in the regular season versus the postseason. The Leafs might be looking for playoff-proven producers.

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