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Colorado trade bolsters draft options and Marlies depth

by Adam Proteau / Toronto Maple Leafs

The Maple Leafs continued to reshape their roster Sunday, trading forward Shawn Matthias to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, as well as forward Colin Smith. The transaction sends a valued and well-liked veteran out of Toronto, but gives the Leafs another pick in an already-impressive amount of draft opportunities and adds an experienced pro to the Marlies as the franchise’s AHL team gears up in hope of a deep post-season run.

“Timing is everything, and there was a need for a certain type of player with a certain team,” Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said on a conference call Sunday after finalizing the trade. “This gives us an opportunity to stay along the plan that has been put in place, that we’ve consistently stuck with, and will continue to do so.”

In Matthias, the Avalanche are getting a 28-year-old Mississauga, Ont., native drafted 47th overall by Detroit in 2006, and who played his first NHL game in January of 2008 with Florida. Since that time, he has racked up 459 career regular-season games and has amassed 75 goals and 148 points, including six goals and 17 points this season – his first with Toronto since signing a one-year contract last summer.

And Lamoriello had nothing but good things to say about the manner in which Matthias conducted himself.

“An exceptional pro,” Lamoriello said of Matthias, who also has played for the Vancouver Canucks. “He comes to work every day, he leaves everything on the ice, he’s committed…he’s ready to do anything and everything the coach asked of him. I’ve gained tremendous respect for him, but I did see him do this in Florida when he was there when we played them quite often, so it wasn’t something I didn’t expect. I think he’s going to be a decided asset to the role that Colorado is asking him to play.”

The acquisition of the Avs’ fourth-round pick gives the Leafs a whopping 12 selections in this summer’s entry draft: their own first-rounder, a conditional first-rounder from Pittsburgh, their own picks from rounds two-through-seven, the Penguins’ third-round pick, Colorado’s fourth-round pick, Anaheim’s fifth-round pick and St. Louis’ sixth-round pick.

That is the most of any NHL team this season, and a number that will thrill Toronto’s scouting staff under director of player personnel Mark Hunter.

“The scouting staff always gets excited with the more picks they have, and I know the organization did a great job of acquiring the picks that we do have this year,” Lamoriello said. “I haven’t seen as many (picks) here as we have in a long time…now, teams are right around the seven-eight, sometimes six-five (mark). Nine (picks) is high, but to have 11 or 12 is quite a bit.”

In addition, the Leafs welcome Smith to the fold and will assign him to the Marlies, where he’ll be a veteran voice with 183 games of AHL experience under his belt. The 22-year-old, drafted 192nd overall by the Avs in 2012, has 33 goals and 99 points at the AHL level, including 13 goals and 34 points in 54 games for the San Antonio Rampage this season. The league-leading Marlies are expecting a strong showing in the playoffs, and Smith improves their chances in that regard.

“He’ll add depth there, a centre iceman who’ll help them make a run,” Lamoriello said of the Edmonton native. “This gives (the Marlies) an opportunity to have another player that will help them get to the end where they’d like to be.”

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