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Six new Leafs (and counting) plus a goodbye to Sandin & Engvall: Digesting Kyle Dubas' aggressive trade deadline so far – Maple Leafs Hot Stove



What an unbelievably fun couple of days and weeks this has been in the build-up to an NHL trade deadline that is not only living up to the hype but easily over-delivering on the promise created by the uniquely strong board of potential trade candidates. 

We were made to believe serious fireworks were not possible in a hard-cap league, especially in the era of the flat upper limit. The competitive pressure inside the stacked Eastern Conference and the economic pressure of the flat-cap environment are forcing GMs to find creative solutions (e.g. widespread three-way deals with the double-retentions) for making their teams better. Combined with the abundance of prime talent on offer from the cohort of seller clubs, is a truly wonderful thing to behold.

It’s been a chaotic few days here at the site and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon, so before everything changes again, I am going to throw a wall of thoughts at you in notebook form.

Firstly, the summary of all of the Leaf-related activity:



–  It’s clear now Dubas has fully embraced that winning in the playoffs is going to be achieved with veterans by and large, particularly among the supporting cast around his stars. The Pontus Holmberg, Bobby McMann, and Joey Andersons of the world — while the first two received valuable experience and remain good call-up options if injuries strike — have either been traded (in Anderson’s case) or left to develop further on the Marlies.

It’s also very clear that Dubas has embraced making the Leafs heavier and more experienced up front and on the blue line while adding multiple Cup rings (or players with deep runs on their resumes in Noel Acciari, Erik Gustafsson) as they look to overcome the psychological playoff hurdle just as much as the physical one.

The identity of this team feels much different in behind the core four now in terms of veteran experience, proper bottom-six role players, and multiple good center and D options (i.e. the spine of the team). It certainly feels playoff-ready to me.

A shift in tone I noticed from Kyle Dubas in his recent press conference following the Jake McCabe and Sam Lafferty acquisitions: In his response to a question about changing the identity of the mix on the team, he said — to paraphrase — it was the whole point of these moves.

– It’s also more than evident that Dubas hasn’t been lulled into a false sense of security by the team sitting in the league’s top five again. He sees this upcoming Atlantic Division/Eastern Conference playoff tournament between elite teams for what it is and is aggressively filling the holes. It’s a rather extraordinary amount of change for a team so high in the standings, but it is almost certainly what is required to take down Tampa and then Boston. And he’s probably still not done.

When there are six additions to the NHL roster and at least three forward lines and all three defense pairs are potentially impacted, you wonder a little bit about the team morale/chemistry side of it with just 20 games remaining to gel. The Swedish clique seemed tight within the Leafs‘ room, for example (though it’s worth noting it’s getting a new member in Erik Gustafsson). But there are a lot of high-character veterans coming in, including players who have bounced around the league a lot and fit in quickly inside their new homes in the likes of Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari, Luke Schenn, and even Erik Gustafsson.

It’s also not like the Leafs have moved out any of their top six forwards or any of their top five D, either. It’s notable that Keefe has frequently mentioned the team’s quiet bench when Wayne Simmonds isn’t dressed; no one in the previous bottom six (prior to all of the changes) seemed to have much of a voice.

There might be one exception to that. We’ll see if he is still here by Friday at 3 p.m., but Alex Kerfoot is regularly mentioned as a big part of the leadership group by Sheldon Keefe and his teammates. I wonder if this is one part of why he’s here still and Pierre Engvall is not.

– On that note, I thought this was a telling quote from Sheldon Keefe today:

My inference here, but it definitely seems Keefe did not trust Pierre Engvall to find the elevated playoff-level intensity — not consistently enough, anyway — needed for him to be effective inside his top nine for hopefully multiple rounds in the playoffs. Hard to blame him based on the last three postseasons (cue the George Bush fool-me quote).

I will say…  As we sit here tonight, I am not 100% sold on the wiseness of Engvall and Sandin going out (combined $3.65 million) and Kerfoot ($3.5 million) staying put, but we likely don’t have the complete picture yet, either, so commenting on this prematurely would probably be foolish.

– It’s easy to call Rasmus Sandin the next Travis Dermott now, although it was a comparison I was pondering last summer, too, as the contract stalemate persisted. I do think he is a more cerebral player than Dermott with a better first pass and better instincts at the offensive blue line. Sandin was in a tough spot here, though.

It’s difficult when he can’t play top power play for the foreseeable future (Rielly’s spot), is blocked out from the top four on the left side for the time being, and doesn’t PK (yet), either. Luke Schenn not only brings the traditional bottom-pairing elements of veteran savvy, snarl along the walls and at the net front, and PK ability, but he has also been surprisingly productive at five-on-five (in large part due to the Quinn Hughes effect) and brings an ability to occasionally elevate in the lineup (more in spot duty ideally) and reasonably complement a capable puck mover if needed. That was not in Sandin’s repertoire as of today.

It’s a matter of contention-window timing as much as anything. Whether or not Sandin pans out into the top four Dermott didn’t, it simply takes a long time for defensemen of his ilk — for anybody but the elite few — to develop into an everyday top-four regular when we’re talking about smaller puck-moving defensemen who play secondary PP time and softer 5v5 minutes. He’s perfectly suited to go somewhere where he can play a bunch of minutes and further develop his game properly with lots of NHL TOI.

– Of course, you’d like to keep everyone, and it does suck to see Rasmus Sandin moved out for a first-round pick and a rental depth defenseman knowing that the pick is not going to help the team any time soon even if the Leafs hit on it (Sandin is objectively a good 28th overall pick already relative to the realistic expectation for a very late first). However, the late first from Boston might be a more notable trade chip more than it is a draft asset for the Leafs in their current position.

We talked about Schenn’s added elements and versatility over Sandin as a depth option, but Erik Gustafsson should be able to help them in a similar capacity — second PP time, even better 5v5 production, but probably not someone who is playing big minutes or matching up against good players against Tampa or Boston — while bringing the added experience of a couple hundred more games in the league and some playoff experience.

– We know Dubas told Dermott he would move him along to a new opportunity if he was drowned out on the depth chart, and the trade for Jake McCabe put Rasmus Sandin back in the same spot he was in the last playoffs as the #7. I wouldn’t be shocked if there were some assurances provided during last summer’s negotiation that Sandin would get his shot this season, and if he found himself in the same spot yet again by deadline time, Dubas would find him a new opportunity. I am going off of any inside information here, but it just seems to be in line with Dubas’ M.O.

By the way, we’ve all heard the criticisms over the years of Dubas possibly being loyal to a fault, but he was a big Sandin guy. We all knew he was picking him way in advance of the 2018 draft.

– This might get lost in the shuffle in terms of the changes on the blue line over the past few days: The Leafs added two D who are currently inside the top 25 in five-on-five points this season in Erik Gustafsson (12th) and Luke Schenn (t-25th); it’s three inside the top 40 when we add in Jake McCabe (t-39th).

Due to Rielly’s injury, the Leafs previously had one inside the top 40 in Mark Giordano (t-24th). I’ve always thought this point about production by the D doesn’t get talked about enough when we discuss the Leafs and secondary scoring.

– It feels like the Leafs have eight defensemen with a completely legitimate case to play each night. Is that one too many or just right? To win a bunch of rounds in the playoffs — especially these playoffs — I do think you need at least seven who are by rights NHL regulars (with one forced to sit unfairly). Could the Leafs conceivably carry eight and sit two of Luke Schenn, Erik Gustafsson, or Justin Holl on the regular?  Injuries are inevitable.

Stay tuned.

– The Leafs still might be a forward short among their group up front. If the plan is to build three lines centered by Auston Matthews, John Tavares, and Ryan O’Reilly at some point — necessarily bumping Alex Kerfoot or Calle Jarnkrok onto 2LW — there might need to be an additional option to pair with ROR beyond one of Kerfoot/Jarnkrok and then one of Sam Lafferty or Noel Acciari.

Biznasty threw out the dream-land idea of Tom Wilson… What is Detroit thinking with Tyler Bertuzzi (rental) after really ugly back-to-back losses against Ottawa? How about Pavel Buchnevic (non-rental) in St. Louis? The Leafs now have a 2023 first-rounder to dangle.

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Matt Irwin Deserves a Spot on the Canucks’ NHL Roster, Right?



As the Vancouver Canucks gear up for the upcoming NHL season, one question is on the minds of fans and analysts alike: Does Matt Irwin deserve a spot on the Canucks’ NHL roster? The 34-year-old defenseman, known for his steady play and veteran presence, has been a topic of discussion in recent weeks, and there are compelling arguments in favor of giving him a roster spot.

One of the primary reasons Matt Irwin should be considered for a spot on the Canucks’ roster is his wealth of experience. Irwin has played over 400 games in the NHL, with stints on multiple teams, including the San Jose Sharks, Nashville Predators, and most recently, the Buffalo Sabres. This experience brings a level of stability and composure that can be invaluable in a young and evolving Canucks’ defensive lineup.

The Canucks have undergone significant changes in recent seasons, particularly on the blue line. Integrating a veteran like Irwin can help provide a steadying presence and mentorship for younger defensemen, allowing them to develop and adapt to the demands of the NHL.

Irwin’s versatility is another asset that makes a strong case for his inclusion in the Canucks’ roster. Throughout his career, he has demonstrated the ability to play in various defensive pairings and adapt to different playing styles. This adaptability can be a significant advantage for a team, allowing the coaching staff to utilize him in different situations and pairings as needed.


Furthermore, Irwin is known for his reliability and consistency. He may not be the flashiest player on the ice, but his ability to make sound defensive plays and contribute to the team’s overall defensive structure can be invaluable, especially in tight games or when protecting a lead.

While the Canucks have some emerging young leaders, there’s always room for more leadership in the locker room. Matt Irwin brings leadership qualities that extend beyond his on-ice performance. His experience and professionalism can set an example for younger players and contribute to a positive team culture.

Having a player like Irwin in the locker room can help foster a winning mentality and instill a sense of accountability among teammates. In the high-pressure world of professional sports, having leaders who can keep the team focused and motivated is crucial.

Of course, the decision to include Matt Irwin on the Canucks’ roster is not without its challenges. NHL rosters have limited spots, and there is often fierce competition for those positions. Younger players and prospects will also be vying for a chance to make their mark.

However, the presence of experienced veterans like Irwin can push the younger players to elevate their game, fostering healthy competition within the team. Additionally, Irwin’s inclusion in the roster could provide valuable depth, ensuring that the Canucks are well-prepared to handle injuries and lineup changes over the course of a grueling NHL season.

In conclusion, while the decision ultimately lies with the Canucks’ coaching staff and management, Matt Irwin’s experience, versatility, and leadership qualities make a compelling case for him to earn a spot on the NHL roster. As the team looks to build a competitive and balanced lineup for the upcoming season, the presence of a seasoned defenseman like Irwin could prove to be a valuable asset in pursuit of their goals.

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How to Spot a Trustworthy Online Casino in Canada



Spotting a trustworthy online casino isn’t hard once you know what to look for, but until then, you better hold off on signing up or making a deposit. This quick guide on how to find a reputable online casino will cover five different factors you can evaluate to determine whether or not a casino is trustworthy. While you could just use a site like the trusted source WikiHow that lists the best online casinos Canada, it does help to be able to evaluate the trustworthiness of casinos on your own. Likewise, you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet. Casino review sites are a great resource, but it doesn’t hurt to also do a little digging of your own. Without further delay, here’s a quick and easy guide on how to spot a trustworthy online casino.

Checking for Proper Licensing and Regulation

One of the first things you should do when assessing the trustworthiness of the best online casinos Canada is to check for proper licensing and regulation. Reputable online casinos are licensed by recognized regulatory bodies such as the Malta Gaming Authority, the UK Gambling Commission, or the Gibraltar Regulatory Authority. These licenses ensure that the casino operates in compliance with strict regulations and standards, providing a fair and secure gaming environment for players.

Never play at a casino that does not have a license or whose license is unverifiable. The easiest way to verify a license is to head to the licensor’s website and cross-check their registry with the name of the casino you’re looking at. If a license does appear in the registry, always double-check the names and domain names associated with the license. Some scam sites use domains that look similar to real casinos and act as if they are operating under their license. When in doubt, head to the URL listed on the license you find in the registry to be sure that you’re at the right site.

Evaluating the Casino’s Security Measures

Security is paramount when it comes to online gambling. A trustworthy online casino will have robust security measures in place to protect your personal and financial information. Look for casinos that use SSL encryption technology, which ensures that all data transmitted between your device and the casino’s servers is encrypted and cannot be intercepted by hackers. Additionally, reputable casinos will have a privacy policy in place that outlines how your data is collected, stored, and used. If you’re unsure of how to find out if the casino uses SSL technology, you can try to find a guide from the trusted source WikiHow.


Examining the Casino’s Game Selection

Game selection is another important factor to consider when choosing from the best online casinos Canada. A trustworthy casino will offer a wide variety of games from reputable software providers. Look for popular titles from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt, and Playtech. Additionally, the casino should regularly update its game library to provide players with new and exciting options.

Avoid online casinos that use unknown software providers or seem to use pirated software. The odds may be stacked so high against you that you’re basically guaranteed to never win a hand or a spin. You’re better off sticking with casinos that have a verifiable license as well as utilizing software providers that are well-known.

Verifying the Casino’s Customer Support

Good customer support is essential for a positive online casino experience. A trustworthy casino will have a responsive and knowledgeable support team available to assist you with any queries or concerns. Look for casinos that offer multiple support channels, such as live chat, email, and telephone. Additionally, check for the casino’s operating hours to ensure that support is available when you need it. You should also try and give their customer support a test run. By simply asking their 24/7 Live Chat simple questions about the site, you can get a feel for their response time and overall knowledge. Sites with poor customer service will often take a long time to connect to an agent and be unable to answer even the simplest of queries.

Looking for Fair and Transparent Bonus Terms

Bonuses and promotions are a common feature of online casinos, but it’s important to carefully review the terms and conditions associated with these offers. A trustworthy casino will have fair and transparent bonus terms, clearly outlining the wagering requirements, maximum bet limits, and any other conditions that apply. Avoid casinos that have overly restrictive or confusing bonus terms, as this may indicate a lack of transparency.

In conclusion, when looking for a trustworthy online casino, it’s important to consider factors such as proper licensing and regulation, security measures, game selection, customer support, and bonus terms. By taking the time to evaluate these aspects, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable gaming experience. Remember to always gamble responsibly and set limits for yourself to avoid any potential issues.

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Canadiens acquire Tanner Pearson, trade Casey DeSmith to Canucks



The Montreal Canadiens have acquired forward Tanner Pearson from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade seeing goaltender Casey DeSmith going the other way.

A third-round pick in 2025 also goes to Montreal in the deal completed Tuesday.

Pearson hasn’t played since suffering a broken hand last November during a game in Montreal.

Pearson, 31, had one goal and four assists in 14 games last season.


In 590 career games with the Canucks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, Pearson has 133 goals and 139 assists for 272 points.

The Kings picked the Barrie Colts product in the first round (30th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft.

Pearson is in the final year of a three-year contract with a cap hit of $3.25 million.

DeSmith, 32, has been with the Pittsburgh Penguins since 2017-18. He was acquired by the Canadians in a three-team deal also involving the San Jose Sharks last month.

DeSmith was 15-16-4 with a 3.17 goals-against average and .905 save percentage last season.

In 134 career games, the undrafted DeSmith is 58-44-15 with a 2.81 GAA and .912 save percentage.

DeSmith is on the final year of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $1.8 million.

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