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February 3, 2017 | 8:40pm ET
Leafs exploring, evaluating market

The Toronto Maple Leafs aren't in the rental buying market, but that won't preclude them from trying to improve their team by the March 1 trade deadline.

Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello and his staff are weighing their options and searching for possible targets to pursue in the coming weeks.

The Leafs have already been engaged in multiple trade-related conversations in the past few weeks, but the majority of their thinking relates to the long-term success of the franchise.

With rookies and youngsters Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Morgan Rielly leading the charge, the Leafs have built a very strong young core of stars. The team is very deep up front, sound in goal, but remains on the hunt for defensive upgrades.

Forwards Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk have generated interest from around the NHL, but a deal involving either player is not imminent. Nazem Kadri has also garnered interest.

Lamoriello is not unwilling to make makes involving Bozak or van Riemsdyk, but he's not in a rush to pull the trigger, either.

Bozak and van Riemsdyk both have one-year left on their respective contracts and can become unrestricted free agents on July 1, 2018 if they do not sign a contract extension before that date.

van Riemsdyk has much greater value than Bozak, but Toronto's depth up the middle could make it easier to move Bozak, who is three-years older than JVR.

Toronto's primarily interested in strengthening its defensive corps and if a deal makes sense now, they'll pull the trigger. Otherwise, they'll sit back and continue to field calls.


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