The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin and forward Ryan Dzingel from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for forward Nick Ritchie and a conditional draft pick. Arizona can choose between a 2023 third-round pick and a 2025 second-rounder.
Toronto’s infamous battle against hard-nosed, gritty players has led General Manager Kyle Dubas to address the situation in recent years. He brought in Zach Bogosian, Wayne Simmonds, and Nick Foligno last year. Lyubushkin fits into that mold now, filling the hole left open when Bogosian left for Tampa Bay this past offseason. A strong, right-handed defender on a cheap contract, Lyubushkin is a perfect fit for the third pairing. He is a free agent at the end of this season, so the Leafs have no big commitment to him. Dzingel is an old enemy, having played 276 games for the rival Senators. He is a fast winger with decent defensive numbers, but does not provide much besides that. He also is on an expiring contract.
Lyubushkin, 27, has nine assists in 46 games for Arizona this year. In 180 career games, all for the Coyotes, he has a goal with 18 assists.
Dzingel, 29, has scored four goals with three assists for seven points in 26 games this season. In his NHL career for the Coyotes, Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Carolina Hurricanes, he has scored 86 goals with 101 assists for 187 points in 398 games.
The tanking Coyotes have no need for their depth players, so getting a solid draft pick for Lyubushkin and Dzingel is a win for them. The most notable return piece for now is Ritchie, a former top pick who has flamed out of every NHL stop he’s taken. He signed a two-year deal with a $2.5 million cap hit this past offseason, but was waived to the minors. For a better return, Arizona will take on the entirety of his contract. They can pick between two options for the selection, but going with the higher overall would make more sense, especially since the Leafs could easily be a worse team then compared to the present day. They could draft a player with this pick that is 14 or 15 currently, which is strange to think about.
Ritchie, 26, has scored two goals with seven assists for nine points in 33 games for Toronto this year, along with 79 hits. In his NHL career for the Leafs, Boston Bruins, and Anaheim Ducks, Ritchie has scored 61 goals with 85 assists for 146 points in 383 games.