Ilya Lyubushkin has earned a shot at an extension with the Leafs

When the Leafs first signed Nick Ritchie to a two-year deal last offseason, it seemed like a surefire hit that would give the team some much-needed sandpaper in their top-six. It was supposed to be a move that would give them more of an edge on offence in the postseason that could have helped turn the tides.
Instead, Ritchie struggled mightily to adjust despite being given every opportunity to succeed (including a stint on the top line of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner). It resulted in a statline of just nine points in 33 games played (two goals and seven assists) and a brief demotion to the Marlies. The resulting regression and heft AAV of $2.5 million a year forced Kyle Dubas into moving out of the contract to get something of value back.
He was able to do just that and then some when he the trade that brought in Ilya Lyubushkin.

Look how Ilya Lyubushkin draws the Tampa defenders to him, freeing up Colin Blackwell for a quick shot after that cross-slot pass. pic.twitter.com/0fhs1YZAW2
— Shayna (@hayyyshayyy) May 7, 2022

Lyubushkin had spent the last three seasons quietly developing into a depending defensive defenceman with good foot speed and being willing to throw some hits. His strong ability to read plays and get in the lane of passes and shots made him an ideal target for Dubas to acquire, especially with how much the leafs missed Zach Bogosian to begin the year. Not only was able to find his footing upon arriving in Toronto, but he also saw his production increase significantly.
After recording nine assists through the first 46 games of the season, he recorded six points (two goals and four assists) in the final 31 games played with the Leafs. He would go on to add an assist in the playoffs, which can be seen in the above tweet. Given that he isn’t known for his offensive prowess, it was an impressive uptick in offensive production.
Lyubushkin also showcased his versatility in playing up and down the lineup as he had stints …

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Author: Michael Mazzei / The Leafs Nation

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