Silly season is officially upon us, with TSN’s Darren Dreger throwing the Toronto Maple Leafs into the mix for New York Rangers left-handed defenceman Ryan McDonagh. There is a little bit of buzz around the Leafs kicking the tires on Vancouver Canucks right-handed defenceman Chris Tanev, as well. The Erik Karlsson rumours are also heating up, with division rival Tampa Bay reportedly a player in those sweepstakes.

At this time of year, it’s always hard to decipher between what is legitimate rumour and what is merely pot-stirring ahead of the eight-hour-long trade deadline shows on Monday, the 26th. Looking at the recent trend of deadline-day deals (or lack thereof), the latter seems far more likely in most cases. But if there is a time of year to indulge a rumour, this is it.

At MLHS, we don’t traffic in loosely-reported rumours as a rule. We’ll state clearly here that we haven’t heard anything about a McDonagh-to-Toronto trade or what pieces might be involved, if the two sides are indeed talking.

Here’s the discussion point:

The Leafs can acquire Ryan McDonagh for Travis Dermott, Connor Brown and a second-round draft pick. Perhaps the Rangers push for the first-round pick, and the Leafs may have to be willing to do it if they want it done by Monday, but let’s say they get them down to a second.

This gives you McDonagh for this year’s playoffs plus next year, with no control over the asset after that. You’ll be in a tricky pending-UFA negotiation with McDonagh at age 30 by the end of 2018-19. But you’ve improved your odds quite a bit this year and next by adding a legitimate top-pair stud, all while Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner are still on their entry-level contracts.

You can then sign McDonagh for around $7 million AAV long term, but that means losing Jake Gardiner to unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2019. The Leafs, we can assume, are not going to have Morgan Rielly at $5 million, Gardiner at $6-ish million, and McDonagh at $7-ish million all locked in the long term on the left side of their blue line — not with The Big Three in need of long-term contracts up front.

Alternatively, you could sign Gardiner for cheaper and for not as long, but McDonagh will walk.

Scenario 1: Long term, you’ve locked in McDonagh instead of Gardiner, while losing Travis Dermott and Connor Brown and a second-round draft pick. But you’ve taken two playoff runs with the band all together.

Scenario 2: Long term, you’ve locked in Jake Gardiner but lost McDonagh after 2018-19. You’ve given up Travis Dermott, Connor Brown and a second-round draft pick. But, again, you’ve taken two playoff runs with the band all together.

Scenario 3: Stand pat, continue to grow from within, and look for better opportunities in the summer.

Which do you do, and why?