Toronto Maple Leafs fans from all across Canada and around the globe have long awaited for notification that Kyle Dubas and his management staff have brought in a top four defensemen via acquisition. The passionate Leafs Nation fanbase still does not have their leading defensemen despite some recent deals put in the works to sure up the play on the Maple Leafs blue line.
A flurry of NHL trades have occurred within recent days around the league with the Toronto Maple Leafs being one of the teams who were busy on the phones and making transactions. That in mind, general manager Kyle Dubas made a minor deal with the Ottawa Senators on Friday morning, swapping a pair of young defensemen between both conference and division rivals.
The deal sent recently acquired Toronto Marlies forward Morgan Klimchuk to the Senators in the nation’s capital, meanwhile, the Maple Leafs received forward Gabriel Gagne as the return piece of the exchange. Both players at this time are currently in their early twenties and are awaiting their first call-ups to get a shot in the NHL. Klimchuk is twenty-three and Gabriel Gagne is twenty-two, both of which have never played a regular season game in the NHL.
Morgan Klimchuk will now join the Belleville Senators in the AHL after a short stint in which he played with the Maple Leafs organization. The former Calgary Flames first-round pick from the 2013 Draft is signed through to the conclusion of the 2018-2019 season. Morgan tallied two points in thirteen appearances with the Marlies this season. He had eight points in seventeen games with the Stockton Heat before being acquired by Toronto just a few weeks ago.
Gabriel Gagne becomes the newest member of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization. Drafted in the second round (36th overall) by the Senators back in 2015, Gagne is under contract for $925,000 until the conclusion of the regular season. Gagne, a native of Sainte-Adèle, Quebec, has been a member of the Senators organization for the past three years respectively.
Gagne spent his first year playing in Binghamton before Ottawa moved their affiliate to Belleville where he has since found himself playing over the course of the last two seasons. Gagne tallied 40 points in 142 AHL games. He played his major junior hockey in the QMJHL with Victoriaville where he amassed 132 points in 177 total appearances in the “Q”.
In looking at the way in which Gabriel Gagne plays, he is particularly known for his wicked quick release shot. At six-foot, five inches tall, Gagne towers over most players and his long reach allows him to be active in the defensive zone while being able to stay in shot lanes. The new Marlies forward can hound puck carriers and play the physical style as well.
Quick to get going up the ice, he is strong in transition and obtains the vision to get the puck to his teammates effectively. While unable to find his way to the NHL yet in his young pro career, it is important to keep in mind that he is still developing as a player and once again is only twenty-two years of age. With time to groom his game, Gabriel will provide some depth in the forward department for the Marlies where he will continue to put in the work necessary in order to further develop and improve his skills.
The Toronto faithful’s prayers have not been answered with this minor deal, although it does bring in another big forward that can certainly add some grit. The Maple Leafs are currently one of the top teams in the league with potent offence and a solid goaltender which have carried them along the way. In spite of this acquisition, the defence still needs to be addressed before Toronto can once again become a playoff ready organization.