Leafs acquire McCabe, Lafferty from Blackhawks as Dubas takes another swing

Kyle Dubas swung for the fences by securing Ryan O'Reilly.

And while a subsequent move made Monday won't garner the same attention as adding a Stanley Cup champion and Conn Smythe Trophy winner, the Maple Leafs general manager once again left little doubt playoff success-starved Toronto is going all-in this spring.

The club acquired defenceman Jake McCabe and centre Sam Lafferty in a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks for a conditional first-round pick at the 2025 draft and a second-round selection in 2026, along with minor league forwards Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev.

With the NHL trade deadline set for Friday — and after that, another first-round matchup with the Tampa Lightning looming large just over the horizon — Toronto also received conditional fifth-round picks in 2024 and 2025.

Chicago will retain 50 per cent of the remaining salary owed to McCabe, who carries a US$4-million cap hit through 2024-25. The first-round selection heading to the Blackhawks in 2025 is top-10 protected.

The swap with the Blackhawks by Dubas, who's in the final year of his contract, comes on the heels of Toronto's move with St. Louis on Feb. 17 that saw the Leafs snag O'Reilly and fellow centre Noel Acciari for four draft picks, including their first-rounder in June.

O'Reilly, Acciari and Lafferty are all set to become unrestricted free agents July 1.

After watching Toronto pick up O'Reilly and Acciari for what's hoped will be a long playoff run for a team that's lost six straight series, and hasn't advance to the second round since 2004, Atlantic Division rivals Boston and Tampa responded.

The Bruins acquired defenceman Dmitry Orlov and winger Garnet Hathaway from Washington on Thursday before the Lightning got forward Tanner Jeannot from Nashville on Sunday.

The arms race in the Eastern Conference has also seen the New York Rangers acquire forward Vladimir Tarasenko from St. Louis and New Jersey win the sweepstakes for former San Jose winger Timo Meier.

The New York Islanders, meanwhile, acquired centre Bo Horvat from Vancouver late last month.

The rebuilding Blackhawks are at the other end of the spectrum.

The franchise that won the Cup in 2010, 2013 and 2015 continues to tear its roster down to the studs, with Chicago also rumoured to be on the cusp of trading franchise icon Patrick Kane to the Rangers.

The 29-year-old McCabe had 20 points (two goals, 18 assists) in 55 games with the Blackhawks in 2023, and should provide Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe a dependable left shot on the blue line.

Selected by Buffalo with 44th selection at the 2012 draft, McCabe has 119 points (24 goals, 95 assists) in 483 career regular-season NHL games.

Lafferty, 27, put up 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 51 games with the Blackhawks in 2022-23.

He's registered 53 points (21 goals, 32 assists ) in 191 career games with Pittsburgh, which drafted him 113th overall in 2014, and Chicago. Lafferty made one post-season appearance with Pittsburgh in 2020.

Anderson had two goals and an assist in 14 games with the Leafs this season, which included 30 appearances with the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies. Gogolev was playing for the third-tier ECHL's Newfoundland Growlers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 27, 2023.


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Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press