Former Leafs GM Confirmed to Have Turned Down Trade for Norris Winner

James Connelly
December 2, 2023  (9:56)

The Leafs had a rare opportunity to acquire a Norris-winning defenseman for his entire career but the Leafs GM at the time did not feel comfortable with it.

Leafs Had The Opportunity To Acquire Hedman At The Draft

Elite defensemen are quite difficult to come by in the modern NHL. Sometimes they hit the open market or get traded but usually, the best way to acquire them is through the draft. The Toronto Maple Leafs had the opportunity to acquire one of the best defensemen from this past generation, Victor Hedman, at the draft.
Back in 2009, the Maple Leafs were in trade talks for the 2nd overall pick which became Hedman. The Lightning had a tall demand for the pick asking for Luke Schenn, the 5th overall pick from the previous year, and the 7th overall pick (the Leafs took Nazem Kadri).

The Canucks were also in on Hedman but the Leafs likely had more of a chance to land the Swede.

What Could Have Happened With The Leafs Having Hedman

Victor Hedman in his prime was the best defenseman in all of the NHL and was consistently amongst the best. While he is starting to trail off, he is still viewed as one of the top 10-15 defenders in all of the NHL. Even past his prime, he would still be the Leafs' best defender today.
The "problem" with having a player as talented as Hedman is that he is almost certainly going to help your team win games and when you're contending for the top pick in the NHL draft, a guy like Hedman would hurt the Leafs' chances at landing a guy like Auston Matthews.
Hedman surely would have made the Leafs a better team but could have prevented them from being able to pick players like Morgan Rielly, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews. While it stings now to look back and see the Leafs could have gotten Hedman for pennies on the dollar, a little more consideration makes it clear that the Leafs would look completely different right now and probably would be worse than they are right now.
All in all, the Leafs clearly blew their shot at landing an elite defenseman for over a decade but they may have saved themselves from years of mediocrity in doing so.
As seen on Maple Leafs Insider - Video emerges of an ex-Leafs GM turning down a trade for a Norris Trophy winner
Former Leafs GM Confirmed to Have Turned Down Trade for Norris Winner

Would you have wanted the Leafs to have done this trade?

Yes21259.6 %
No14440.4 %
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