Maple Leafs land Nick Foligno in trade with Blue Jackets

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made their major splash before the NHL's trade deadline.

As first reported by TSN's Frank Seravalli, the Maple Leafs have landed Columbus Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno on the eve of the NHL's team-to-team transaction freeze.

Toronto will send its 2021 first-round draft selection to Columbus in exchange for the veteran forward, in addition to two fourth-round draft picks. One of those selections will be diverted to the San Jose Sharks, who have agreed to take on salary in order to complete the deal.

As a result, Foligno will work on 25 percent of his $5.5 million cap hit before reaching unrestricted free agency this summer. The Leafs will also take back minor-league forward Stefan Noesen in the deal. Noesen was selected 21st overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Foligno's offensive impact has diminished over recent seasons before plummeting this year. He's contributed just seven goals and 16 points to the cause in Columbus after failing to break the 35-point plateau in each of the previous three seasons.

Unfortunately, that statistical dip is also relevant when examining his underlying data. Columbus's share of shots, scoring chances, and goals is way down with Foligno on the ice when compared to previous seasons, though it's in large part reflective of the larger issues with the Blue Jackets.

DALLAS, TX - MARCH 6: Nick Foligno #71 of the Columbus Blue Jackets skates against the Dallas Stars at the American Airlines Center on March 6, 2021 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Toronto Maple Leafs made their big splash ahead of Monday's trade deadline, acquiring Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno. (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

For Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas, the thinking has to be that the largely positive conditions created by the club will help the 33-year-old Foligno once again contribute at a high level. This is a player with plenty of positive attributes, at least historically, which include the leadership qualities required to hold down the captaincy on an NHL club.

It's unclear where Foligno will start with Toronto, but he certainly fills the need that's existed on the left side of Sheldon Keefe's lineup for several seasons. Zach Hyman and Alex Galchenyuk have been holding down the top six roles of late, with Alexander Kerfoot, Joe Thornton, Ilya Mikheyev, and Alexander Barabanov seeing time and also filling in with the bottom six.

Perhaps there's an argument for Foligno claiming a top-six position, knocking Galchenyuk from his pedestal, but the most reasonable expectation would be an industrious third-line function.

Foligno is evidently looking forward to his next chapter with the Maple Leafs, as relayed by The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun.

Toronto preserves each of its three top prospects, having included a late first-round pick in the deal, in lieu of either Nick Robertson, Rasmus Sandin or Rodion Amirov.

Foligno was part of the Blue Jackets team that upset Toronto in the play-in round of last summer's NHL restart.

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