Do Deals Make Leafs More Appealing Ontario Sportsbooks Proposition?

Do Deals Make Leafs More Appealing Ontario Sportsbooks Proposition?
By Mark Keast
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

Listening to Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas on Monday, moments after he swung a significant trade that, he hopes, makes his team more playoff-hardened, it was worth wondering if he had more moves up his sleeve.

As it turns out, he did. A few more moves, actually.

The NHL’s trade deadline is 3 p.m. Friday. As of Monday the Leafs had $2,770,833 of cap space according to CapFriendly,com and they have goalie Matt Murray coming off long-term injured reserve (ankle issues) any day. He could return during Toronto’s Western Canada swing, which starts Wednesday in Edmonton against the Oilers, which would, of course, be interesting to Ontario sports betting customers.

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Details of Latest Maple Leafs Trades

Murray coming back means the Leafs would be over the cap, so the team needed to make more moves. A trade on Monday netted defenseman Jake McCabe and forward Sam Lafferty from Chicago. Lafferty will join the bottom six (another bonus with Lafferty is his career-best 10 goals and 21 points so far this season).

The details of Monday’s trade: The Leafs got McCabe and Lafferty, a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2024 NHL Draft and a conditional fifth-round selection in the 2025 Draft from Chicago for forwards Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev, a conditional first-round selection in 2025 (top 10 protected) and a second-round selection in 2026.

The Blackhawks will retain 50% of McCabe’s salary as part of the deal – a nice bit of deal-making by Dubas, since that means the Leafs get a top-four D-man for only $2 million per season through the 2024-25 season.

Then on Tuesday afternoon, news broke that Toronto acquired defenseman Erik Gustafsson and a first-round draft pick from the Washington Capitals for defenseman Rasmus Sandin. And Toronto got yet another veteran blueliner, Luke Schenn, from Vancouver for a third-round pick in 2023, according to Sportsnet.

Finally, Toronto swapped F Pierre Engvall to the New York Islanders for a third-round pick in 2024. The other moves, and the need for cap room, made the likes of Engvall expendable.

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What New Toronto Acquisitions Bring

McCabe and Lafferty are high-pressure, physical, defensively responsible grinders who help make a difference in a playoff series. Both will be key cogs on the penalty kill. 

And if the playoffs started today, with postseason betting to follow at Ontario betting apps, then the Leafs would be up against their most recent nemesis, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Almost two weeks ago, Dubas struck early, acquiring Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues. Those two also play a physical style, hit a lot, and led a Blues team to a Stanley Cup in 2019. According to this scout, Lafferty and Acciari (also in the bottom six) have more combined hits between them – 407 – than nine other Toronto players: Engvall, Alex Kerfoot, Calle Jarnkrok, Michael Bunting, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, O’Reilly, David Kampf and Pontus Holmberg.

McCabe, 29, at 6-foot-1, 204 pounds, automatically becomes one of the team leaders in hits and blocked shots. He’s a top-four blueliner and will line up against the opposition’s top players every night.

The 30-year-old Gustafsson (6-0, 197) had seven goals and 31 assists for the Capitals this season. Sandin, 22, a native of Sweden like Gustafsson, had four goals and 16 assists in 52 games for the Leafs this season.

Schenn, 33, spent his first four NHL seasons with Toronto, from 2008 to 2012. He had three goals, 18 assists and 71 penalty minutes for the Canucks this season.

Stanley Cup futures bets have already begun to move. BetMGM Sportsbook Ontario said the Leafs moved from +1000 to +900 to win the Cup after the deal with the Blackhawks was announced. They remained there as of Tuesday afternoon.

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Eastern Conference Race Tight

The East is a beast. And all eyes are on the Lightning  to see if they respond to all of the Leafs’ maneuvering before 3 p.m. Friday.

The Boston Bruins are in first place in the Eastern Conference – 46-8-5, for 97 points – followed by the Carolina Hurricanes (39-11-8, for 86 points), the Devils (39-15-5, for 83 points), then the Leafs (37-15-8, for 82 points), Tampa Bay (37-18-4, for 78 points) and the New York Rangers (34-17-9, for 77 points). 

The Bruins solidified their hold on the top spot by acquiring D Dmitry Orlov and F Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals in a huge deal on Thursday. 

The Rangers have been loading up, too – first picking up sniper Vladimir Tarasenko in a trade with the Blues. Then ESPN reported Tuesday afternoon that New York was going to acquire veteran star Patrick Kane from Chicago.

And on Sunday, the New Jersey Devils pulled off a big trade with the San Jose Sharks, acquiring star right wing Timo Meier (31 goals in 57 games).

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Leafs Likely To Face Lightning in Playoffs Again

The Lightning made their first deal with Nashville on Sunday, acquiring forward Tanner Jeannot.

While we like what the Leafs have done, they are still vulnerable in a first-round series against the Lightning, because Tampa Bay has one of the best goalies in the world in Andrei Vasilevskiy – 28-14-2, 2.55 GAA. He’s playoff experienced and has won two Stanley Cups.

So has Murray – but the story in his first year with the Leafs has again been injuries. He has only played 19 games. Ilya Samsonov has been a more-than-capable replacement – 22-7-2, 2.30 GAA.

Tampa Bay eliminated Toronto in seven games in the first round last season behind their star goalie. In a head-to-head with Murray (or Samsonov) against Vasilevskiy, who are you going with? That’s what bettors on the best Ontario casino apps should ask themselves before wagering.

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Who Is Most Staked Team in Stanley Cup Betting?

According to FanDuel Sportsbook Ontario, the most staked team today to win the Cup has been the Rangers, despite the fact that if the playoffs started today their opponent would be Meier and the Devils. Bettors love the Rangers’ goaltending, led by Igor Shesterkin (26-10-7, 2.65 GAA). But don’t undersell Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek – 25-6-3, 2.37 GAA.

Also at FanDuel, also surprisingly, the Devils and Lightning are only the fourth- and sixth-most staked teams to win the Cup today despite their big trades.

The Bruins and Edmonton Oilers have been the second- and third-most staked teams in the Stanley Cup market. The Devils were cut from +1500 to +900 to win the Cup following the trade, but were back up to +1200 at FanDuel as of Tuesday afternoon.

And according to Proline Stanley Cup futures, the O’Reilly trade was the much bigger mover. Around the time of that acquisition, Proline odds for the Leafs to win the title moved from 10.00 to 8.00 (decimal odds). Over the next week or so it went to 8.50. Thus far this week, they’ve gone from 8.50 to 8.00 again.

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Mark Keast has recently covered the sports betting industry in Canada for The Parleh, and is a long-time sportswriter and editor, most notably with the Toronto Sun.

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