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Maple Leafs acquire Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty from Blackhawks

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired defenceman Jake McCabe, forward Sam Lafferty, a conditional fifth-round pick in 2024, and a conditional fifth-round pick in 2025 from the Chicago Blackhawks, the team announced Monday.

The Leafs are sending the Blackhawks a conditional 2025 first-round pick, a 2026 second-round pick, and forwards Joey Anderson and Pavel Gogolev.

McCabe, 29, had two goals and 18 assists for 20 points in 55 games with the Blackhawks this season. In 483 career games, McCabe has 24 goals and 95 assists for 119 points for the Buffalo Sabres and Blackhawks.

Chicago will also retain 50 per cent of McCabe’ salary, which means he will join the Leafs at a $2-million cap hit. He has two years left on a four-year contract.

A native of Eau Claire, Wisc., McCabe was the Sabres’ second-round pick, 44th overall, in the 2012 draft.

“McCabe’s game is far from flashy, but that is why he is appealing to teams looking to shore up their blue line,” wrote Sportsnet’s Adam Vingan. “Physicality is McCabe’s calling card, and he is great at getting in the way of pucks.

“On a better team, McCabe will not be required to play heavy minutes, which would probably benefit him.”

Sportsnet’s Jason Buakala noted that following the additions of Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari, the Leafs were well positioned up front but needed to round out their roster with another defenceman. 

“The left shot defenceman from the Blackhawks is best defined as a two-way blueliner,” Bukala writes. “He’s been credited with 122 hits, 115 blocked shots and would immediately become the leader in both categories with the Leafs.”

Over his first three NHL seasons, Lafferty had 11 goals and 32 points in 140 games. Given a bigger opportunity on the rebuilding Blackhawks this season, he has produced 10 goals and 21 points in 51 games.

Four of Lafferty’s goals are shorthanded, tied for the league lead. The speedy 27-year-old forward, whose nine shorthanded scoring chances lead the Blackhawks, is also reliable in the faceoff circle, winning 56 per cent of his defensive-zone draws.

Lafferty, whose $1.15-million cap hit runs through next season, is an unsung player who could become a key contributor during a playoff run. The Leafs haven’t won a playoff series since 2004.

“He’s starting to put the pieces together and really understand where he’s effective in the game with his speed and size,’’ Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson told the Chicago Sun-Times. ‘‘It’s unique. We had a guy like that in Montreal, Josh Anderson, and everybody in the league wants one of those guys.”

Lafferty, a native of Hollidaysburg, Pa., was a fourth-round pick, 113th overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2014.

Anderson has appeared in 14 games for the Leafs this season, putting up two goals and three points while adding 27 goals in 30 games in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies.

Gogolev has 48 points in 33 games in the ECHL with the Newfoundland Growlers. The Leafs signed the 23-year-old as a undrafted free agent in July 2021.


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