Is Matthew Knies Leafs' biggest trade chip or key to future?

20-year-old Matthew Knies remains the Maple Leafs biggest prospect, and a valuable commodity on the NHL trade market. Knies, picked by Toronto in the second-round of the 2021 draft, has 27 points in 26 NCAA games with the University of Minnesota this season. Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas must now decide if Knies is part of the future or the biggest trade chip at his disposal in this all-or-nothing season.

Video Transcript

OMAR WHITE: Matthew Knies is a name that's being-- that's been really polarizing amongst us Leafs fans. Not because we talk about whether he's good or bad, but we talk about what he means for the future.

Is Matthew Knies a player who is going to be part of the core, part of the future? Is he going to grow with Matthews, Nylander, Tavares, and Marner, and other players? Or is he your biggest trade chip? Is he the core piece that is involved in a big blockbuster trade deadline acquisition.

And I had a poll about it. And I think even still, a lot of people are kind of on the fence about it. And in fact, a lot of people saying, yeah, you know, he's the biggest trade chip-- or saying, he is that-- but it depends on what the trade is. And a lot of people are saying that, as well. If the Leafs want to get Timo Meier from the San Jose Sharks, it has to start with Matthew Knies.

If the Leafs want any-- any impact player of the deadline, the asking price starts with Matthew Knies. And I-- I don't know. I know there are a lot of college players who have like amazing runs at their schools, and then try to go to the NHL, and they don't have an impact. Not everyone is going to be a Cale Makar, not everyone's going to be a Charlie McAvoy, make their debut in the playoffs and then have like a significant impact on-- on the team.

But there's something about Matthew Knies and his play style and his ability, his mix of grit and grind and skill, that makes me like envision him on the team. But at the same time, Kyle Dubas cannot not do something at the deadline.

And I don't know if you-- if you're sitting at the deadline with an offer, where the Leafs can get an impact player, I don't know if you can say no to that-- especially in a year like that. So ideally-- and I think you can say that with any prospect-- ideally, Matthew-- Matthew Knies stays and he's part of the core.

But man, it would be really frustrating if like we hear that, I don't know, there-- there's a big deal that was about to take place, at least we're going to get this impact player, and Matthew Knies was-- was-- was meant to be part of the deal, and the Leafs said, no, and they lose in the first round again. Now, yes, that-- that's a hindsight play, and you know what? In the long run, it-- it probably is the better option to have Knies in the system, because the Leafs have just started to get other prospects who were not in the first round, make the team-- and make the team succeed.

Pontus Holmberg, sixth round-- sixth round pick, you know, Nicholas Robertson, second round pick-- but I-- I really like Knies. And honestly, if the Leafs can add and still keep Knies in the system, I think that's definitely the best of both worlds.