Free Agency Day: Maple Leafs Targets

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Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis leaves the rink after a practice session at their NHL training camp in Toronto on Thursday September 12, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

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.
    [quote_box_center]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.[/quote_box_center]
  • 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.
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Alec Brownscombe is the founder of MapleLeafsHotStove.com, where he has written daily about the Leafs since September of 2008. He was also the editor of the 2009-12 Maple Leafs Annuals. You can contact him at [email protected]
  • The Craigory

    Makes us proud Nonis…

  • Black_Hawk

    dont worry boys Clown Loiselle  will make sure we are right up against the cap by the end of tmr

  • Bon Scott was a Leaf fan

    Thx for the blog, Alec….well surmised.  Personally, I hope we stay out of the feeding frenzy.  As I said earlier, I have no interest in a bidding war for Stastny, Bolland, nor anyone else.  Would be happy if we could simply get Komarov under contract for a fair price and call it a day.  I have no interest in Brodeur (could do better for cheaper).

  • Black_Hawk

    just noticed but isnt that pic of nonis up top kinda creepy? like why is the guy hiding in a net to take the pic? Nonis looks like he had no clue the guy was there too.

  • drummond

    Something tells me the Leafs will do something stupid

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2DgsgWHQfY0 Kouba

    When is the start? noon et?

  • barjv01

    Can’t Sleep so I went nuts on Capgeek looking at the next two years. I don’t believe that we are near being a cup contender now (and don’t think we could sign the UFA’s that MIGHT make us that). Nor do I think that we will tear this down all at once. 
    So here is what I would do for Leafs 2015. 
    Sign Radim Vrbata 2 X 3 Million
    Sign Dustin Penner 2X 2 Million
    Sign Dan Boyle 2X 5 Million
    Sign Marcel Goc 1 X 1.5 Million.
    Sign Thomas Greiss (or any decent backup) 2X 750,000
    With Call-ups and Rfa’s, My Leafs would look this:

    JD’s Leafs 2015
    FORWARDS
    James Van Riemsdyk
    ($4.250m)
    /
    Tyler Bozak
    ($4.200m)
    /
    Phil Kessel
    ($8.000m)
    Joffrey Lupul
    ($5.250m)
    /
    Nazem Kadri
    ($2.900m)
    /
    Radim Vrbata
    ($3.000m)
    Dustin Penner
    ($2.000m)
    /
    Peter Holland
    ($0.851m)
    /
    David Clarkson
    ($5.250m)
    Jerry D’Amigo
    ($0.851m)
    /
    Marcel Goc
    ($1.500m)
    /
    Carter Ashton
    ($0.851m)
    Troy Bodie
    ($0.600m)
    /

    DEFENSEMEN
    Dion Phaneuf
    ($7.000m)
    /
    Dan Boyle
    ($5.000m)
    Jake Gardiner
    ($2.900m)
    /
    Cody Franson
    ($3.000m)
    Morgan Rielly
    ($0.894m)
    /
    Roman Polak
    ($2.750m)
    Petter Granberg
    ($0.800m)
    GOALTENDERS
    Jonathan Bernier
    ($2.900m)
    Thomas Greiss
    ($0.750m)
    BUYOUTS
    Mike Komisarek ($0.000m)

    Mikhail Grabovski ($0.000m)

    Tim Gleason ($0.833m)

    RETAINED SALARIES (0.29% of upper limit)
    Carl Gunnarsson ($0.200m—6.35%)

    BONUS OVERAGE
    $450,000
    ——
    CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
    (estimations for 2014-15)
    SALARY CAP: $69,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $66,979,000; BONUSES: $950,000
    CAP SPACE (22-man roster): $2,021,000
    While my Marlies for 2015 would look like this:
     Toronto Marlies 2015
    FORWARDS
    Spencer Abbott
    ($0.715m)
    /
    Greg McKegg
    ($0.660m)
    /
    Tyler Biggs
    ($0.894m)
    Josh Leivo
    ($0.793m)
    /
    Trevor Smith
    ($0.550m)
    /
    Brandon Kozun
    ($0.550m)
    David Broll
    ($0.591m)
    /
    William Nylander
    ($1.000m)
    /
    Connor Brown
    ($0.687m)
    Brad Ross
    ($0.707m)
    /
    Sam Carrick
    ($0.632m)
    /
    Kenny Ryan
    ($0.715m)
    Jamie Devane
    ($0.660m)
    /
    Ryan Rupert
    ($0.632m)
    /

    DEFENSEMEN
    Stuart Percy
    ($0.863m)
    /
    Korbinian Holzer
    ($0.788m)
    Matt Finn
    ($0.828m)
    /
    Tom Nilsson
    ($0.825m)
    Eric Knodel
    ($0.690m)
    /
    Andrew MacWilliam
    ($0.875m)
    Viktor Loov
    ($0.693m)
    GOALTENDERS
    Drew MacIntyre
    ($0.600m)
    Garret Sparks
    ($0.670m)
    Chris Gibson
    ($0.650m) 
    End Part 1

  • Great Dane

    “I imagine the Leafs will be aggressive tomorrow. They’ll sign a few
    guys with grit & leadership qualities. A Steve Ott type”
    This will be unbearable for Leafs fan to witness.

  • barjv01

    Forward to the 2016 season:

    Joffrey Lupul, Cody Franson, Peter Holland (unless he shows enough to stay) and Marcel Goc traded for picks and Leivo, Nylander, Carrick, Biggs and McWilliam promoted (pending readiness).

    My Leafs for 2016 would be:

    JD’s Leafs 2016
    FORWARDS
    James Van Riemsdyk
    ($4.250m)
    /
    Tyler Bozak
    ($4.200m)
    /
    Phil Kessel
    ($8.000m)
    Josh Leivo
    ($0.793m)
    /
    Nazem Kadri
    ($2.900m)
    /
    Radim Vrbata
    ($3.000m)
    Dustin Penner
    ($2.000m)
    /
    William Nylander
    ($1.500m)
    /
    David Clarkson
    ($5.250m)
    Jerry D’Amigo
    ($0.851m)
    /
    Sam Carrick
    ($0.632m)
    /
    Carter Ashton
    ($0.851m)
    Tyler Biggs
    ($0.894m)
    DEFENSEMEN
    Jake Gardiner
    ($2.900m)
    /
    Dion Phaneuf
    ($7.000m)
    Morgan Rielly
    ($0.894m)
    /
    Dan Boyle
    ($5.000m)
    Stuart Percy
    ($0.863m)
    /
    Roman Polak
    ($2.750m)
    Andrew MacWilliam
    ($0.875m)
    /
    Petter Granberg
    ($0.800m)
    GOALTENDERS
    Jonathan Bernier
    ($2.900m)
    Thomas Greiss
    ($0.750m)
    BUYOUTS
    Mike Komisarek ($0.000m)

    Mikhail Grabovski ($0.000m)

    Tim Gleason ($0.833m)

    RETAINED SALARIES (0.29% of upper limit)
    Carl Gunnarsson ($0.200m—6.35%)

    BONUS OVERAGE
    $450,000
    ——
    CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter)
    (estimations for 2014-15)
    SALARY CAP: $69,000,000; CAP PAYROLL: $61,335,167; BONUSES: $1,720,000
    CAP SPACE (23-man roster): $7,664,833
    And my 2016 Marlies would be:
     Toronto Marlies 2016
    FORWARDS
    Spencer Abbott
    ($0.715m)
    /
    Greg McKegg
    ($0.660m)
    /
    Brandon Kozun
    ($0.550m)
    Andreas Johnson
    ($1.000m)
    /
    Carter Verhaeghe
    ($0.809m)
    /
    Connor Brown
    ($0.687m)
    David Broll
    ($0.591m)
    /
    Frederik Gauthier
    ($0.894m)
    /
    Fabrice Herzog
    ($1.000m)
    Brad Ross
    ($0.707m)
    /
    Ryan Rupert
    ($0.632m)
    /
    Kenny Ryan
    ($0.715m)
    Jamie Devane
    ($0.660m)
    /

    DEFENSEMEN
    Matt Finn
    ($0.828m)
    /
    Tom Nilsson
    ($0.825m)
    Eric Knodel
    ($0.690m)
    /

    Viktor Loov
    ($0.693m)
    /

    GOALTENDERS
    Garret Sparks
    ($0.670m)
    Antoine Bibeau
    ($1.000m)

  • barjv01

    Which leads me to 2017 when the window for some of our core is beginning to close.

    Here is my roster barring any trades that have improved us at any position. If you project (always risky) and look at these players three years from now this roster might begin to contend. Then you consider trading Kessel (30) & Phaneuf (32) if you haven’t already.

    JD’s Leafs 2017
    FORWARDS:
    James Van Riemsdyk
    ($4.250m)
    /
    William Nylander
    ($1.500m)
    /
    Phil Kessel
    ($8.000m) 
    Josh Leivo
    ($0.793m)
    /
    Nazem Kadri
    ($2.900m)
    /
    Connor Brown
    ($0.687m)
    Jerry D’Amigo
    ($0.851m)
    /
    Tyler Bozak
    ($4.200m)
    /
    David Clarkson
    ($5.250m)
    David Broll
    ($0.591m)
    /
    Peter Holland
    ($0.851m)
    /
    Tyler Biggs
    ($0.894m)
    Sam Carrick
    ($0.632m)
    /
    Carter Ashton
    ($0.851m)
    DEFENSEMEN
    Jake Gardiner
    ($2.500m)
    /
    Dion Phaneuf
    ($7.000m)
    Morgan Rielly
    ($0.894m)
    /
    Petter Granberg
    ($0.800m)
    Stuart Percy
    ($0.863m)
    /
    Roman Polak
    ($2.750m)
    Matt Finn
    ($0.828m)
    /
    Andrew MacWilliam
    ($0.875m)
    GOALTENDERS
    Jonathan Bernier
    ($2.900m)