As the hours ticked by and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ other targets got plucked at high prices by their aggressive competitors, it became increasingly apparent that Kyle Dubas’s big trade deadline swing would be for Mark Giordano.
Of greater intrigue Sunday -- and greater concern for an astutely critical fanbase -- wasn’t so much who was coming in next to try to get the Maple Leafs over that immovable first-round hump.
It was how much would he cost.
Dubas -- whose most famous quote is “We can, and we will” -- believes in speaking desires into existence.
The general manager had made clear that his primary target would be a defenceman, recent games of goalie roulette be damned. He also made plain that he had no intention of surrendering a first-round pick for a rental, a strategy that came back to bite him in 2021, when he paid a steep price to borrow Nick Foligno from Columbus and had no tangible success to show for it.
As go-to capologist Brandon Pridham worked his magic math, Dubas placed a series of players on waivers and dealt seventh defenceman Travis Dermott to the Vancouver Canucks for a 2022 third-round pick (Winnipeg’s) on Sunday, clearing roster and cap space. Then he lifted the bat from his shoulder.
Dealing with friendly associate Ron Francis, Dubas acquired Giordano and versatile bottom-six forward Colin Blackwell from the Seattle Kraken for the Leafs’ 2022 second-round pick, 2023 second-round pick, and 2024 third-round pick. The Kraken retained 50 per cent of Giordano’s salary.