Toronto Maple Leafs' Top Trade Candidate This Season

The Toronto Maple Leafs have two NHL trade pieces that are going to either push a deal to get done or be used to clear some cap space. There is Alex Kerfoot and Rasmus Sandin, but the exact deal that the team pulls off will indicate which individual, if not both, are being dealt.

There doesn't seem to be much space on the Maple Leafs' blue line this season and moving forward. The thought was that the team would have to choose between Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. That choice appears to have been made as Liljegren has taken some time to develop, but is finally revealing himself as a top-four defenceman. Sandin hasn't done that yet and it remains to be seen if he can with Toronto. Since there have been rumours that the Maple Leafs want to extend Conor Timmins, this creates even more of a logjam if Sandin isn't moved out.

Sandin and Liljegren are on identical contracts that sees them become RFAs at the end of next season. They have cap hits of $1.4 million AAV and Sandin is a young defenceman that some teams lack and are looking to add. He is already an NHL talent, which makes him more appealing as a return as well. He has three goals and 16 points in 47 games and could really get his career going with more of an opportunity and playing time.

Kerfoot is a candidate since he has a cap hit of $3.5 million but has not played up to that number this season. He has dropped off production-wise from last season where he recorded 13 goals and 51 points. The Maple Leafs' centre has just seven goals and 21 points through 52 games and was demoted to the fourth line recently until Auston Matthews got injured.

Kerfoot's cap hit heading out at the deadline would help broker a deal to bring in a big name or two to help the Maple Leafs make some noise in the postseason. He is a UFA at the end of the season and would likely not be re-signed by the Maple Leafs anyways. So since there can only be one top trade candidate, I'm going with Sandin. Kerfoot is harder to replace mid-season, especially with injuries, and the team's defence is deep to cover the loss of Sandin in the lineup.

Photo credit: © Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports