The Hamilton Spectator

Dubas swings deal to get Leafs help on blue line


Kyle Dubas swung for the fences by securing Ryan O’Reilly.

And while a subsequent move made Monday won’t garner the same attention as adding a Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, the Maple Leafs general manager once again left little doubt playoff success-starved Toronto is going all-in this spring.

The club acquired defenceman Jake McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty in a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditiona­l firstround pick at the 2025 draft and a second-round selection in 2026, along with minor leaguers Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev.

“Another key addition for us,” Dubas told reporters in Seattle, where the Leafs beat the Kraken 5-1 on Sunday. “Adds more of what we feel we’re going to need to give our group the best chance.”

With the NHL trade deadline set for Friday — and after that, a playoff rematch with the Tampa Bay Lightning looming large just over the horizon — Toronto also received conditiona­l fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025.

Chicago will retain 50 per cent of the remaining salary owed to McCabe, who carries a $4-million (U.S.) cap hit through 2024-25. The first-round selection heading to the Blackhawks is top-10 protected.

The most recent swap by Dubas, who’s in the final year of his contract, comes on the heels of Toronto’s move with St. Louis on Feb. 17 that saw the Leafs snag O’Reilly and fellow centre Noel Acciari for four draft picks, including their firstround­er in June.

O’Reilly and Acciari are set to become unrestrict­ed free agents July 1, while Lafferty has two years remaining on a contract that carries a $1.15-million cap hit.

Dubas said it’s no secret he’s been looking to upgrade the tenacity — especially in the bottom-six — of a forward group that boasts stars Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander.

“There’s no reason for us to really beat around it,” he said. “We’ve wanted to become more competitiv­e ... something we feel like in those big moments, that we’ve needed and maybe we’ve lacked a little bit. The thing about all three of the forwards we’ve acquired is they’ve all proven that they can score and they can score in tight at the net where we’re going to have to find a way.”

Toronto acquires defenceman Jake McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty from Chicago Blackhawks

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