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NHL Notebook: Sam Lafferty, Vincent Desharnais discussed in potential Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers trade

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Photo credit:© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
6 months ago
Before the Toronto Maple Leafs traded Sam Lafferty to the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, they called the Edmonton Oilers. 
The call saw the Leafs ask for defenceman Vincent Desharnais, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman, and the Oilers declined. As Friedman noted, Desharnais is “a favourite of the coaching staff.”
“Before Toronto traded Sam Lafferty to Vancouver (a nice pickup), the Maple Leafs called the Oilers,” Friedman wrote. “Edmonton’s liked him for a while, poking around last season before he was moved by Chicago.”
Lafferty was linked to the Oilers dating back to last February when they were looking to add sandpaper to their bottom six. The Leafs ended up making a more significant deal with the Blackhawks that also saw Jake McCabe heading to Toronto, while the Oilers picked up Nick Bjugstad in a deal that didn’t pay off well. 
Toronto’s interest in Desharnais is interesting, and more so that the Oilers didn’t have an interest in moving him. Desharnais has been a solid player, no doubt, since he arrived last February when he was recalled. According to HockeyViz, he contributed offence at a league-average rate and defence at a four percent rate above league-average. He was incredibly effective on the penalty kill, delivering at an eight percent rate above league average. Overall, HockeyViz pegged him as a second-pairing defenceman last season.
His size and prowess are invaluable, but the knock against him is his lack of foot speed and his struggles with the puck. He’s been burnt before by quicker opposing forwards, and that’s the apparent concern again heading into this season. But if the Oilers can pair him with a more mobile defenceman, someone like Brett Kulak or Phillip Broberg — like in the pre-season — then that has all the markings of a strong duo on the blue line.
Lafferty, meanwhile, drew in for 19 games with the Leafs down the stretch scoring two goals and six points, and chipped in three more points in nine playoff games.

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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@oilersnation.com.

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