The Toronto Maple Leafs' great selloff of 2016 continues.
Less than two weeks after shipping captain Dion Phaneuf to a division rival in Ottawa, Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello sent big winger Shawn Matthias to the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday.
In return, the Leafs received a fourth-round pick in 2016 and prospect Colin Smith, a 22-year-old minor-league depth centre who will help the Toronto Marlies on their AHL playoff run.
It is a fair return for Matthias, who had a tough time in Toronto with multiple injuries and produced only 17 points in 51 games. He also does not have a contract for next season.
The rebuilding Leafs will now have an NHL high 11 or 12 picks in June's draft, including up to seven in the first four rounds.
Lamoriello said he pulled the trigger on the deal early because he didn't expect the return to increase by waiting until closer to the NHL's Feb. 29 trade deadline. The Leafs have been involved in the only two trades made in the NHL in the last month and will continue to be one of the most active teams in the eight days remaining before the deadline.
"With the direction we're going, at this time, it was the right decision," Lamoriello said of moving Matthias. "We'll have other [trade] situations where we might wait, but I think when you think something is fair, you make the decision at that time. You don't have to keep holding and holding [out, for the best deal]."
Matthias was one of eight pending unrestricted free agents the Leafs are trying to move by the deadline, a group that is headlined by goaltender James Reimer and winger P.A. Parenteau.
Other Leafs players who will potentially be dealt in the next week include goaltender Jonathan Bernier, defenceman Roman Polak and forwards Michael Grabner, Dan Winnik, Nick Spaling and Brad Boyes. Only Bernier and Winnik have term remaining on their contracts.