Free Agency Day: Maple Leafs Targets

Free Agency Day: Maple Leafs Targets

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Fasten your seat belts. There’s always been something highly appropriate about Canada Day coinciding with the entire country ravenously following hockey transactions by the second.

The Maple Leafs have about $23 million to spend less the space they’ll need to lock down RFAs Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner and Carter Ashton.

Their priorities appear to be “defensive defencemen” and bottom-six leadership/grit types based on their moves and rumoured targets so far.

These are dangerous waters the Leafs are navigating. A lot of the buyouts in the past couple of years have been on early-July free agent signings who matched those exact descriptions. They might be best waiting out the initial storm and going bargain hunting if they feel a need to address those areas via free agency.

The Leafs will also need to wade through the backup goalie market if they’re going to trade James Reimer soon.

Here is the rundown of potential targets currently bouncing around the rumour mill:

  • There has been little to no discussion of the Maple Leafs pursuing top available center Paul Stastny, and that could be because they know they’re not on his list. Or they might feel they’re content at 1C, which would be far more alarming.
  • David Legwand has been mentioned as a possible target if the Maple Leafs don’t get something done at the final hour with Dave Bolland, who according to Kypreos is likely Florida bound to re-join Dale Tallon as has been long rumoured. Legwand is not a bad idea at all, but neither was the general premise of signing David Clarkson, which is a hyperbolic way of saying that price is everything. Assuming Jay McClement walks, Legwand-Holland behind Bozak and Kadri, while actually using a line 4, could yield a big time improvement in the bottom 6.
  • Tanner Glass has also been mentioned as a fourth line option, for some reason. He was one of the worst possession players in the League last season. This is almost certainly a position better left open for the advancement of a Marlie like Carter Ashton or Jerry D’Amigo, who might have a brighter future in the League if given opportunity to develop into something more than Tanner Glass.

  • The Josh Gorges fiasco yesterday, where they were reported to be trying to knock down his door to get him to come to Toronto and could not change his mind, suggests the Leafs are looking for a top 4 left-shot defenceman now that Tim Gleason has been jettisoned via regular-course buyout.
  • Dan Boyle is almost certainly going to receive a competitive bid from Dave Nonis and co., but expect some fierce competition from Steve Yzerman’s Lightning from the sounds of things. Signing Boyle may mean Dion goes to the left side, but a 2-year term on Boyle at a million or so more than Gorges sounds like a better alternative.
  • Martin Brodeur‘s name won’t go away as a candidate to fill a “mentor-backup” role, although — said with full respect to his career and the pedigree — his numbers have really slipped and he doesn’t sound like he’s necessarily 100% into the idea of a role with limited playing time.

    The 41-year-old netminder, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer, was not happy with his playing time. Brodeur did not sound like a player on the verge of retirement, but rather one that will approach free agency with the intent of looking for better opportunities elsewhere. After making just 39 appearances, including Sunday’s 16-save effort in a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins, Brodeur will prioritize playing time when testing the market.
    “I think a ballpark amount of games I’ll be able to play,” Brodeur said of the biggest factor in identifying a good fit. “That’s the bottom line. I don’t want to prepare myself, like I did this summer, and get ready for a great season and sit on the bench. If I’m ready for 30 games next year in an organization and the Devils can’t give me that, that will probably be something that makes my decision easier or harder.

  • No word of advanced talks with any of Mason Raymond, Nikolai Kulemin or Jay McClement. Sounds like dialogue is ongoing with Leo Komarov but as of now he’ll test and see if he can get his desired salary on the open market.