The Toronto Maple Leafs simply cannot get enough of top-four defencemen.
It’s hard to blame them when the media in the city crows incessantly about the desperate need for the team to add on the blue line, even when they rank near the top of the league in most defensive categories.
Still, they took another big swing to add to their stable of blueliners on Monday, acquiring Jake McCabe from the Chicago Blackhawks along with winger Sam Lafferty in exchange for four assets headlined by a 2025 first-round pick and a 2026 second-round pick.
Having paid big for Ryan O’Reilly just last week, general manager Kyle Dubas is obviously pushing his chips in. Unlike that deal, this one provides the Leafs with some certainty in the coming seasons. The Hawks were willing to eat half of McCabe’s cap hit, meaning that for the next two seasons after this one, he will ring in at just $2 million per year. That’s a big deal for a team that always has to execute convoluted plans just to keep from circumventing the ceiling on a day-to-day basis.
So how does this deal shape up for both sides? What does McCabe bring to the table, what can Toronto expect from Lafferty, and did the Blackhawks get a sufficient haul?