The Toronto Maple Leafs have been looking for help on the blue line for a considerable length of time now and while they have yet to be successful we now have a clear picture of the kind of acquisitions the team has been trying to make, and as a result the kind of acquisitions that we can expect them to attempt in the very near future.
Over the past several weeks, perhaps even over the last few months, the Maple Leafs have been primarily linked to Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev but it's unclear how far along those discussions have gotten. You have to imagine that the Canucks would command a high price if they were indeed going to be convinced to give up arguably their best defenseman, but Tanev's injury struggles this season are probably significant enough to scare the Leafs away from giving up a king's ransom for the veteran blue liner.
Following the Maple Leafs playoff elimination TSN National Hockey League insider Pierre LeBrun revealed that the Maple Leafs had either been working on, or were working on, potential trades involving three other defensemen on top of the rumored trade involving Tanev. According to LeBrun the Leafs made attempts, presumably prior to the National Hockey League's trade deadline, to acquire Travis Hamonic from the Flames, Sami Vatanen from the Anaheim Ducks, as well as former New York Rangers captain Ryan McDoangh. Of course you have to imagine that any one of these deals being made would preclude any of the others from happening.
Of all the trades mentioned here by LeBrun you have to imagine that the least likely to materialize at a later date is the trade involving McDonagh. The Lightning went all in when the acquire the talented NHL defenseman from the Rangers and it seems extremely unlikely that they would be willing to give him up when another run at the Stanley Cup is likely in their sights for the 2018-2019 National Hockey League season. That leaves us with three potential options.
At the top of the list would likely be the trade involving Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen. Not only have the Maple Leafs and the Ducks been frequent trade partners in recent years but there were rumors of potential friction between Vatanen and the Ducks caused by the negotiation regarding Vatanen's current NHL contract. If the Ducks are still unhappy with how that worked out, or feel there remains animosity towards the team from the player, it would make them much more likely to pull the trigger on a trade deal.
The Flames on the other hand have not gotten the kind of production they were hoping for out of Hamonic, although he did seem to find his groove down the stretch this season. They would likely be willing to consider moving Hamonic in a trade deal given his sub par performance at times but they would be expecting a large return in order to do so. Much like the situation with Tanev this seems like a deal that would be difficult to get done because of how both sides view the main piece in the trade deal.