How drastic Brad Treliving’s changes to the player personnel in Toronto will be this offseason remains to be seen.

Anthony Petrielli has published some excellent articles in the last couple of weeks, and you should check them out regarding the Leafs‘ potential roster and targets. Whatever moves Toronto’s relatively new General Manager opts to make will have huge implications for the farm club.

Decisions must be made with RFAs, UFAs, and a host of AHL players whose deals have expired. The latter will keep Marlies GM Greg Hardy busy, as proven by the four signings in the last few days.


RFAs: Keith Petruzzelli
AHL FAs: Luke Cavallin, Dryden McKay

There is a logjam building among Toronto’s goaltending prospects, and I foresee this spelling an end to Keith Petruzzelli’s time as a Marlie.

Toronto is currently without an ECHL affiliate (at the time of writing), although Florida is a strong bet for next season. That uncertainty makes it difficult to quantify the futures of Luke Cavallin and Dryden McKay. When opportunity knocked, the former performed well in the AHL, so it would be no surprise if his services were retained.

Dennis Hildeby will be joined by intriguing Russian prospects Artur Akhtiamov and Vyacheslav Peksa in the battle to claim the Marlies‘ #1 spot in net.


NHL RFAs: Maxime Lajoie
AHL FAs: Cameron Gaunce, Tommy Miller, Matteo Pietroniro 

At the time of writing, Toronto’s blue line is fairly well set for next season. Topi Niemelä, Marshall Rifai, William Villeneuve, and Mikko Kokkonen are all entering the final seasons of their respective NHL contracts. I don’t predict that any are ready to step up to the next level this fall.

Journeyman Nicolas Mattinen was signed out of the German league to a two-way contract in April, and it would be no surprise if he starts his North American journey in the AHL.

Whether Maxime Lajoie is qualified is a coin flip for me. He was okay in the NHL, but back in the AHL, he never hit the heights of previous seasons. Whether Treliving will want to dedicate an NHL Standard Player Contract slot to him is debatable. 

The three AHL free agents are nothing to write home about. One or both of Tommy Miller and Matteo Pietroniro should be moving on this summer. It would be the latter if I had to pick one to stay.

Cameron Gaunce brought some much-needed experience to the blue line, but age has caught up to him. I could foresee the organization retaining him for another year, but much depends on the recruiting process.

Chas Sharpe and Jacob Bengtsson are rookies on AHL contracts and are expected to begin their professional careers in the ECHL. The recent addition of Matt Anderson this week is shrewd. He performed admirably in a short stint on a PTO and is worthy of a second look as a depth option.


NHL RFAs: Max Ellis, Alex Steeves
NHL UFAs: Dylan Gambrell, Kyle Clifford
AHL FAs: Kieffer Bellows, Joseph Blandisi, Robert Mastrosimone, Grant Cruikshank, Josiah Slavin, Zach Solow

With eight free agents, two restricted free agents, and a posse of rookies waiting in the wings, a turnover of the forward group this summer could be in the cards.

It’s difficult to envision Toronto qualifying Max Ellis on an NHL contract, although a scenario in which he returns on a one-year AHL is feasible.

On the flip side, I would be a little surprised if Alex Steeves is not qualified. I’m not certain his future lay in Toronto, and if he departs for pastures anew, it would be no great shock. But the 24-year-old is coming off a career-high season in the AHL (goals and points). Deficiencies remain in his game, and he appeared in just one NHL game this season. A one-year “last chance to show me” deal seems plausible.

Dylan Gambrell and Kyle Clifford will free up two NHL contract spots. The former likely still has designs on the NHL and is looking for a two-way contract, probably away from Toronto. Clifford’s case is somewhat different; the veteran winger has settled in Toronto with his young family, and a scenario in which he signs an AHL contract is plausible. 

Toronto’s AHL free agents are one of their best crops in recent years. There has to be a strong appetite to re-sign Joseph Blandisi, as his tenure as a leader in Toronto has been nothing short of exemplary.

Kieffer Bellows is the group’s most interesting name, and there must be interest in keeping him around. It’s certainly possible he could be offered a ‘Chris Mueller-type’ deal, making him a highly-paid AHL player without quashing his NHL dream in the process. I ponder where his ambitions lie at this point in his career and if the Leafs/any team would have seen enough yet to take a flyer with an NHL contract based on his AHL production (27 goals, 49 points in 52 games) and past draft pedigree. 

Rookie Robert Mastrosimone had an excellent season playing alongside Josiah Slavin and Zach Solow. I would be stunned if the majority, if not all, of that trio returns. 

Grant Cruikshank was never quite able to impose himself on the roster and may look for another option for 2024-25. If he signs in Toronto, I project him to start the season in the ECHL.

Players on NHL contracts guaranteed to return (barring a trade) are Nick Abruzzese, Ryan Tverberg, Roni Hirvonen, and Jacob Quillan. It’s an important season for the former, who enters the final season of his contract (RFA).

Much of the focus next season will surround a group of five rookie prospects: Ty Voit, Fraser Minten, Nikita Grebyonkin, Brandon Lisowky, and Brayden Kressler are all eligible to feature for the Marlies. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Voit, whose young career has been blighted by injury.

Captain Logan Shaw is the only veteran forward for next season, currently penned to an AHL deal. 

The remainder of the forwards on AHL contracts are rookies. Matthew Barbolini and Sam Stevens were signed last season, and the former made a good impression in limited minutes.

Jacob Frasca, Mathieu Gosselin, and Marko Sikic were acquired this week. Frasca has previously attended Toronto’s prospect camps, while Gosselin and Sikic both had a cup of coffee in the ECHL at the back end of last season.