The latest NHL trade rumors have the Toronto Maple Leafs interested in acquiring Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin. A former Maple Leaf, Lyubushkin’s potential return to Toronto ignites discussions about team dynamics and defensive strategies.
Dave Poulin, appearing on TSN, highlighted the Maple Leafs’ need for a right-shot defenseman. Poulin expressed his appreciation for Lyubushkin’s previous stint with Toronto, noting his physicality and compatibility with the team, particularly his pairing with Morgan Reilly.
Lyubushkin’s departure from Toronto, as Poulin noted, was somewhat unexpected given his successful integration into the Toronto squad.
Potential Impact of Ilya Lyubushkin’s Return to Toronto Maple Leafs
Adding to the discussion, Darren Dreger pointed out the complexity of such a trade. The main obstacle lies in managing the Maple Leafs salary cap constraints, a common challenge in NHL trades. Dreger acknowledged Toronto’s need for a player like Lyubushkin, who had previously demonstrated his effectiveness with the team.
Examining Lyubushkin’s current performance, the defenseman’s stats for the 2022-23 season with the Buffalo Sabres and the 2023-24 season with the Anaheim Ducks reveal his consistent contributions. In the 2022-23 season, Lyubushkin scored 2 goals and 12 assists over 68 games, with a -2 plus/minus rating. In the current season, he has so far contributed 2 assists in 21 games, with a -6 plus/minus rating. Throughout his NHL career, Lyubushkin has played 300 games, scoring 5 goals and 36 assists, accumulating a total plus/minus rating of +7.
Lyubushkin, 29, has a cap hit of $2.75 million this season and will be an unrestricted free agent in the summer.