The Toronto Maple Leafs have been one of the busier teams prior to the 2021 trade deadline, as tonight they acquired former Columbus Blue Jackets Captain Nick Foligno in exchange for a first round pick in the 2021 NHL draft and fourth round pick in the 2022 NHL draft, as well as Calgary Flames Goaltender “Big Save” David Rittich for a 2022 third round pick. Earlier this weekend, the Leafs also acquired Riley Nash from the Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional 7th round pick in 2022. In the Foligno trade, the Columbus Blue Jackets will retain 50% of his salary, and the San Jose Sharks will retain an additional 25% in exchange for a 4th round pick in 2021 from the Maple Leafs. The Leafs also acquire forward Stefan Noesen in this deal from San Jose. After the retained salary from both San Jose and Columbus, Foligno’s cap hit for the remainder of the 2021 season in Toronto is at $1.375 million. Foligno is a pending unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the season. Calgary will also retain 50% of David Rittich’s 2021 salary, causing his cap hit on the Leafs to be $1.375 at the conclusion of the season. Rittich is also a pending unrestricted free agent at seasons end.
Nick Foligno is no stranger to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, as his father Mike, played for the team from 1990-1994. Foligno has been praised by several people within the Leafs organization about his leadership abilities, as he won the King Clancy Award given to the player who exhibits leadership qualities on and off the ice, while making a significant contribution to his community, as well as the Mark Messier Leadership Award for being a superior leader with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017. He will join a dressing room in Toronto with three former captains in Leafs current Captain John Tavares (Islanders), Jason Spezza (Senators), and Joe Thornton (Sharks). We believe Foligno will be a welcome addition to this Leafs team and will certainly aid them in their pursuit of a Stanley Cup Championship for the first time since 1967. At the midseason point, Nick Foligno had a +2.13 individual AB score (fifth highest on CBJ) and a +0.90 career average score. In his thirteen seasons of data, he has registered eight positive seasons. If his midseason score holds, it will be his highest individual score since the 2018-19 season. In forty-two games with the Blue Jackets this season, Foligno has scored seven goals, and registered nine assists for sixteen points. His physical presence will also be of use in Toronto, as he led the Blue Jackets win 109 hits in forty-two games as well.
Riley Nash will also be an interesting player for the Leafs come playoff time, as he usually plays a shutdown role in the playoffs against the opposing team’s best players. According to Nick DeSouza, Nash was used at 5v5 in the playoffs in 2016-17 against Ottawa’s Turris/Stone/Brassard. He was used in 2017-18 against Matthews/Marner/Nylander for Toronto, as well as Callahan/Kunitz/Paquette for the Lightning in the 2nd round. He was used against Stamkos/Cirelli/Joseph line for Tampa Bay as well as Johannsen/Coyle/Pastrnak for Boston in the 2nd round in 2018-19. Finally, he was used against Kerfoot/Kapanen/Matthews for Leafs, as well as Kucherov/Point/Palat for Tampa Bay in 2019-20. As shown by these names, John Tortorella had extreme confidence in Riley Nash’s abilities to contain the other team’s best players in a playoff atmosphere, and we believe Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe will do the same. At the midseason point, Riley Nash had a +2.49 individual AB score (4th highest on CBJ) as well as positive individual AB seasons in three of his last four. His $2.75 million cap hit was placed on long-term IR by the Maple Leafs following this trade, and he should be healthy by playoff time.
After all three of the Blue Jackets trades leading up to deadline day, they now have three first round selections in the 2021 NHL draft (Toronto’s in this deal, Tampa Bay’s in the Savard deal, and their own), no second round pick (dealt in the Anthony Duclair/Ryan Dzingel trade on February 23rd,2019), their own third, their own fourth, two fifth’s (their own as well as New Jersey’s from the Ryan Murray trade in 2020), their own sixth, and their own seventh, for nine picks total. Toronto now only has three picks in this upcoming draft (their own second, fifth, and a conditional sixth, which could go to the Ottawa Senators if Max Veronneau plays ten games in 2020-21 for the team).
In addition to the moves with Columbus, the Leafs acquired David Rittich from the Calgary Flames for a third-round pick in 2022. Rittich was 1-2-1 against the Leafs this season and registered a whopping .941 save percentage against them in that span. This season, he has a .904 save percentage for the Flames with a 4-7-1 record. In 2019-20, Rittich was 24-17-6 with a .907 save percentage. In 2018-19, Rittich was 27-9-5 with a .911 save percentage. He will most likely be the backup to Jack Campbell in Toronto, who recently broke the NHL record for most consecutive wins to start a season with eleven straight previously held by Montreal Canadiens goaltender, Carey Price. This move may be the end of Freddy Andersen in Toronto, as this could mean his injury is more serious than it appeared to be. It will definitely be interesting to see what else the Leafs decide to do before Monday’s trade deadline, as we will continue to write about our thoughts on the deals as quickly as possible when they come in. Much more to come, stay tuned.