Toronto Maple Leafs have 3 good targets for early rental trades

After a slow start that left Leafs Nation in panic, the Toronto Maple Leafs have now turned around their season. The team is back to their former selves and the expectations are still high for this group. There’s no doubt general manager Kyle Dubas will be looking to make some additions before the trade deadline, so let’s dive into three early rental candidates who should be on the Maple Leafs’ radar.

Before we get started, I want to focus on forwards and then look for a piece about the defensemen in the coming weeks. My criteria for choosing these names include a number of aspects, such as the player must be from a team I feel won’t be in the playoffs, making the player likely available.

Additionally, they must have an expiring contract that is affordable for the cash-strapped Maple Leafs. They also need to be versatile enough to be used in multiple ways with Toronto. Nick Foligno last seasonHe was, before he got injured, a great addition, as he played down the middle and on the wing. Let’s see who are some early candidates on the board in 2021-22:

Robby Fabri

It will likely require a strong offer from the Maple Leafs, possibly including Travis Dermott and perhaps a mid-level forward prospect to Robby Fabbri. The Detroit Red Wings are extremely high on their 25 year-old forward. Fabbri has eight points so far in 20 games.

Last season in Motown was Fabbri on a tear, finishing with a shooting percentage 17.2%. For some context, the Maple Leafs’ current leader is John Tavares at 12.5%. Fabbri can finish the play and move up and down the lineup to any player with top-six forwards, or to a third-line to shut down the opposing top-line. The Maple Leafs will be searching for someone to join David Kampf and Ondrej Kases on the third-line. Fabbri is a great candidate. He’s also a great candidate to play alongside Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews.

Robby Fabbri (Detroit Red Wings)Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers

Fabbri is someone who Dubas knows very well from the Ontario Hockey League and as we’ve all seen, the Maple Leafs’ general manager loves to surround himself with familiar faces. The versatile forward, who plays the wing, has spent quite a bit of time in the faceoff spot this season. He’s winning his faceoffs at a 52% clip, meanwhile last season he took a career-high 190 draws. This is a great element to have in the Maple Leafs’ back pocket, should someone like Kampf, or Jason Spezza go down to injury.

Related: Maple Leafs open to trading a defenseman

The money. Fabbri is paid $2.95million per season. If they acquire less than half that amount before the deadline, and say Dermott turning the other way, then the cash should easily be enough to enable the Maple Leafs make it work.

Max Domi

What about Domi and the Maple Leafs? This would be Nick Foligno 2.0, but with steroids. It would be wild coverage that would entertain and be very entertaining. Max Domi, who has appeared in just six games so far this season, has performed admirably and has recorded seven points. His $5.3 million salary isn’t ideal but is manageable and could realistically be acquired by the Maple Leafs, who have a long history of being financially creative.

Although Columbus has performed better than expected this season, I expect them to come back down to earth as the year progresses. They’re currently in a wild card position, however, the Boston Bruins, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins are three teams that are likely to finish higher in the standings.

Max Domi Columbus Blue Jackets
Max Domi would make a huge hit in Toronto’s marketJess Starr/The Hockey Writers

This dance was performed by Toronto and Columbus last season. The talks could pick themselves up as these two teams made it. Three trades combinedWithin the last eight months. It’s quite amazing, considering that no other duo has done this.

As for Domi’s game, he’s surely not scared to drop his gloves like his father used to for the Maple Leafs, but his offensive game is something the Leafs could use as the likes of Nick Ritchie and Pierre Engvall have been very disappointing at left wing. Domi can play center, and has been playing mainly as a centre the past three years. In 2021-22, he’s been playing the wing and his production has been great. The NHL values roster versatility and the Maple Leafs would be able to offer a variety of lineup options with Domi. He is an excellent candidate and can play every role on a contending team.

Marcus Johansson

The Seattle Kraken have not had a great first season in the NHL. There are increasing expectations that the team will sell most of its pending unrestricted, free agents. Marcus Johansson is a great candidate for the Maple Leafs as he’s only making $1.5 million on the cap, he’s someone who can play all three forward positions and comes with almost 100 games of Stanley Cup playoff experience.

Marcus Johansson Minnesota Wild
Marcus Johansson, pictured in Minnesota Wild with the Maple Leafs (Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI via Getty Images).

The Kraken is a native from Landskrona in Sweden who has scored four points in seven of his seven games this season. The injury that he sustained in the collision with the ball during the game caused him to have some trouble. team’s opening gameBut he has been back since then and is one of the most respected players in Seattle. Johansson is affordable, he’s likely very available and is someone who can help the Maple Leafs.

Maple Leafs’ management continue to work the phones as they have been active early on this season with trade talks and that’s expected to heat up as we close out the calendar year. It’s an all-or-nothing season in Toronto and expect to see some additions brought in to upgrade the group. These are three forwards who should be on the team’s radar and next time around I’ll take a look at some options for the blue line. Enjoy the west coast trip and good fortune for the third.