5 scenarios in which Tyler Myers to the Maple Leafs actually makes sense

Photo credit:© Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
1 year ago
Fans of the Vancouver Canucks have been subject to a nonstop barrage of rumours throughout the 2022/23 season, and we’re not talking in the fun, Fleetwood Mac sort of way. It’s not even a slight exaggeration to say that every single player on the roster has had their name thrown around in trade talks this year, with the caveat that not all speculation is created equal.
Some of the rumours make plenty of sense, and some of them even come true. Clearly, there was some sand to those “Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders” whispers.
Others leave folks on both sides of the rumour scratching their heads, and that’s certainly the case for the recent and numerous reports of the Toronto Maple Leafs having interest in Tyler Myers.
On the surface, the idea makes little to no sense. Why would the team with arguably the best blueline in Canada want to borrow from the team with arguably the worst? And even then, why would they specifically be interested in an individual who has oft been identified as the single biggest problem spot on said worst blueline in Canada?
To make matters even more complicated, said defender is already attached to a $6 million AAV contract that runs all the way through next season. As of this writing, the Maple Leafs have a grand total of a little less than $300K in available deadline cap space.
At first blush, it’s mind-boggling to even suggest that Toronto would be seriously interested in Myers’ services, and even more mind-boggling to suggest that they’d pay for the privilege.
Which leaves us with two options.
Either the rumour itself is bogus…or we’re just not thinking outside of the box enough yet.
Here are a handful of scenarios in which the Myers-to-Toronto trade talks might actually make some sense.
Retained down to a cap-neutral trade
The first and most obvious way to make Myers-to-Toronto more workable is to involve salary retention.
The Canucks could retain up to 50% of Myers’ contract, which would give him a $3 million AAV for the remainder of this season and the next. Right off the bat, that makes him a significantly more palatable asset.
But, as we said at the outset, the Leafs still don’t have a spare $3 million lying around in their cap structure. They’d need to send some salary back in order for this to be a truly cap-neutral deal.
If the Leafs were to send back the expiring Justin Holl and his $2 million AAV, that’d come close. If the deal were further expanded to include, say, an exchange of the expiring $2.25 million AAV Pierre Engvall for a useful player near the league minimum (say Phil di Giuseppe or Sheldon Dries), all of a sudden you’ve got a cap-neutral trade on your hands.
Now, such a trade would require the Leafs earnestly believing that Myers was an upgrade on Holl, which seems feasible. It would also require the Leafs to pay the Canucks, both for the perceived upgrade and for the trouble of retaining millions of dollars — although the Canucks would also be getting $3 million in cap relief next season out of it, and that’s value in and of itself.
Next year’s cap considerations, however, are also the largest barrier to this trade going down. The Leafs are already up against the cap ceiling for the season to come, and swapping out some expiring contracts for one that lasts another year — even at a discounted rate — could be seen as counterproductive.
Even if the Leafs can squeeze out an extra few million for 2023/24, do they really want to spend that money on Tyler Myers, on top of having paid to acquire him in the first place?
Finagled into a cap relief trade for the Leafs
If a cap-neutral trade still isn’t to the liking of Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs, then what about a cap-relieving trade? What if, in acquiring Myers, the Leafs actually saved money?
Such a trade could be as simple as retaining on Myers and then swapping him for someone who makes more than $3 million this season and next. A 50% Myers for TJ Brodie swap, for example, gets the job done, and saves the Leafs an effective $2 million against the cap in each season. But then, Myers-for-Brodie is one heck of a downgrade, and it’s hard to imagine that the Leafs are in the market for that.
One intriguing possibility centers around the health of Jake Muzzin. As it stands, he’s on LTIR for an indeterminate amount of time, and thus providing the Leafs with LTIR relief to the tune of $5.625 million. If he stays on LTIR/Robidas Island for good, it’s of no real concern to Toronto. But if Muzzin is going to attempt a comeback at some point, then the Leafs would need to clear out enough room to accommodate his return, and as of right now, they don’t really have it.
In this scenario, you could simply add Muzzin’s contract to the above 50% Myers+Dries for Holl+Engvall exchange.
Under those circumstances, the Maple Leafs walk away with a defender that they know they can continue to use and up to $2.625 million in cap space next season (assuming Muzzin attempts to return).
The Canucks, on the other hand, take on up to $8.625 million in commitments for 2023/24 between Myers’ retention and Muzzin’s cap hit, and would thus need to be fairly compensated with significant picks and/or prospects.
In exchange for Matt Murray
Maybe we’re overthinking things with the above suggestions.
Maybe it’s as close to as simple as a direct swap of Myers and Matt Murray.
The embattled and oft-injured goaltender is currently on the IR, and on the books for an already-retained $4.688 million cap hit this season and next.
The Leafs don’t really need Murray around with Ilya Samsonov having taken the goaltending reigns, and they really don’t need his salary around. If they think Myers would be useful to their roster right now, there’s the impetus for the swap right there.
If they were traded straight-up, the Leafs would be taking on an extra $1.3 million-and-change in cap hit, which is not doable. Slight retention on Myers gets it done, however, as does the Canucks taking back someone like Holl or Engvall.
Heck, with Spencer Martin struggling and Thatcher Demko’s status unclear, maybe Murray would even get a legitimate shot at the Vancouver crease, assuming he can get healthy. Either way, this is another exchange in which the Leafs come out ahead in terms of asset usability, and that means extra compensation sent Vancouver’s way. 
As part of a much larger, multi-piece trade involving a high-profile Leaf
We might need to bust out the corkboard and string for this next one, as we leave the more realistic scenarios for the realm of wild and free-roaming speculation.
There have been hints that the Maple Leafs are working on something bigger. Jakob Chychrun is a name that has been linked to them, as have a few other high-profile players on the market.
Maybe Myers is nothing more than a moving piece in a much larger picture.
Let’s say that the Leafs are interested in not only Chychrun, but in replacing their existing 1LHD, Morgan Rielly, with Chychrun.
Rielly, possessing a full no-movement clause, would probably have little interest in moving to Arizona. But he is from West Van, so maybe a trade to his hometown is more to his liking.
So, Chychrun heads to Toronto for whatever (including some cap dumps), and Rielly goes to Vancouver. Now, all of a sudden, the Leafs have some spare cap space to throw around. And Vancouver still obviously needs to compensate them for Rielly.
Maybe part of that compensation is a half-price Myers, perfect for replacing a cap-dumped Holl or whomever. Maybe Rasmus Sandin went to Arizona, and Myers helps cover that lost depth.
Maybe some of the rest of the compensation comes in the form of a forward, like a Conor Garland — someone the Leafs also reportedly had some interest in earlier in the year.
Obviously, there would have to be plenty of balancing done here via additional assets, but the barest bones of a blockbuster are there for anyone willing to squint hard enough. 
As a smokescreen for Luke Schenn negotiations
Okay, now we’re fully into conspiracy theory territory.
Perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t interested in Myers at all. Perhaps it’s all a smokescreen, and they’re using the time-tested negotiating tactic of asking for one thing when really interested in another.
On the whole, Luke Schenn makes far more sense as a Trade Deadline acquisition for the Leafs than Myers does. The Leafs have a good blueline in place and, if anything, their primary concern should be depth. They are now relying on the injury-prone Conor Timmins at RHD, for example, and so having Schenn available to step in at any time would certainly provide peace of mind.
At just $850K in salary (and even less than that at the deadline), Schenn easily slides into the Leafs’ cap structure.
Maybe all this Myers talk is just an endeavour in bad faith, all designed so that, when negotiations inevitably fall apart, the Leafs can just shrug their shoulders and say “Okay, fine, guess we’ll just take Schenn for a third, then.”
But then again…maybe not.

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