MONTREAL MOVES PLEKANEC TO TORONTO
The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired center Tomas Plekanec and winger Kyle Baun from the Montreal Canadiens for defenseman Rinat Valiev, winger Kerby Rychel and a second-round draft pick in 2018.
What does it give the Toronto Maple Leafs
This is another trade involving Original Six teams before the deadline (after Rick Nash was sent from the Rangers to the Bruins). In Plekanec, the Maple Leafs get a solid veteran center who excels at defense for their fourth line. The Czech pivot should thrive under Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock and provides a little added insurance for the currently-injured Auston Matthews. That said Plekanec is expected to re-sign with Montreal on July 1, so this deal is a pure rental. Furthermore, there is little offense left in the 35-year-old Plekanec. Toronto paid a steep price here.
What does it give the Montreal Canadiens
This is an excellent deal for Montreal, since they will likely have Plekanec back this off-season. Valiev probably has a brighter future with the Canadiens, too, as he had trouble cracking Toronto's blueline brigade. Rychel is a gritty winger who should work well under coach Claude Julien in Montreal. Plus, the second rounder involved in this transaction will probably wind up being the key to the deal from a Montreal perspective. Overall, the Habs could not have done better in dealing their top UFA rental before this year's deadline--even if they had to deal with their rivals.
Plekanec will see less ice time in Toronto as their fourth-line center, so his fantasy value remains roughly the same as where it is now (which is to say it is virtually negligible). Valiev is more of a defensive defenseman, so his value remains the same as well. Baun will probably be AHL fodder for Toronto, while Rychel might have a little untapped upside as an NHL power forward (though he is not worth picking up at this point). Overall, this trade is far more important in reality than in fantasy hockey.