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Leafs get Dewar from Wild on quiet deadline day

TORONTO – Brad Treliving was willing to make a splash heading into the NHL trade deadline.

The Maple Leafs general manager instead settled for a depth addition following two moves aimed at bolstering his blue-line corps.

Toronto will now hope any other question marks can be answered from within.

“There’s certainly some areas I really like,” Treliving said of his team’s play shortly after Friday’s 3 p.m. cutoff passed. “There’s areas that we need to improve upon. We tried to make some moves to address certain areas.”

That included getting more size, snarl and experience on defence with Thursday’s move for six-foot-five Joel Edmundson from the Washington Capitals and the reacquisition of Ilya Lyubushkin from the Arizona Coyotes last week.

The Leafs’ lone deal Friday saw the club get centre Connor Dewar from the Minnesota Wild for a fourth-round selection at the 2026 NHL draft and AHL forward Dmitry Ovchinnikov.

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“At the end of the day, a lot of the answers are going to come from the guys that are in the room,” Treliving said. “That’s the reality of the situation. We’ve got a group that’s driven, we’ve got a group that’s hungry.”

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Former Leafs GM Kyle Dubas swung for the fences ahead of last season’s deadline by snagging forwards Ryan O’Reilly, Noel Acciari and Sam Lafferty along with defencemen Jake McCabe, Luke Schenn and Erik Gustafsson in a flurry of trades.

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Toronto won a playoff round for the first time in nearly two decades, but the moves — and other deals made during his tenure — left the cupboard relatively bare for Treliving, who replaced Dubas following his dramatic exit from the organization last spring.

The Leafs have a first-round selection in June, but don’t own a second- or third-rounder. Toronto also isn’t currently scheduled to pick until the fifth round in 2025.

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“You’re trying to make your team better in the ways that you can,” Treliving said. “There’s big moves that happen and then there’s small incremental moves.

“That’s what we were trying to do with our team.”

The Leafs currently sit third in the Atlantic Division and appear headed to a playoff date with the Boston Bruins, who beat Toronto twice this week.

Leafs sniper Auston Matthews is on pace to crack 70 goals in 2023-24, while fellow star forwards Mitch Marner and William Nylander are having banner campaigns of their own.

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“There’s great potential for our group,” Treliving said. “Our top guys are having good years. They’re elite players. We want that to continue. We’ve got work to do here in the next 20 games to get us where we want to get to in terms of qualifying (for the playoffs), but I think the group is about building.

“I really believe in our group. And now that belief, we’ve got to turn it into getting the job done that’s ahead of us.”

DEALING FOR DEWAR

The 24-year-old Dewar has 10 goals and four assists in 57 games this season.

“Defensively sound,” Treliving said. “A very competitive player. And hopefully he can help some on the penalty kill.”

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LOSING LAGESSON

Toronto lost defenceman William Lagesson to the Anaheim Ducks on waivers Friday. The 28-year-old had four assists in 30 games in 2023-24.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024.

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