It is back to the drawing board for the Toronto Maple Leafs, after another disappointing playoff exit. We don’t have to talk about it.
The offseason is a safe space, though. New players come in, optimism is renewed, and we get to judge each player based on what jersey number they choose.
The Leafs don’t have much cap space and don’t appear willing to free any of it up by trading their Big 4 – John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander.
Remember the years when we tried to convince ourselves that the players on the team were #1 Centre material, but they were just a third liner who had a few good games in a row? Those delusional years, where all we wanted were good players? Remember that?
Well, now we have good players. Have they won a playoff round? No. Are we paying them too much? Hey, good for them for getting their money. But this is the bed the Leafs have made. Might as well play it out and see what can happen.
Matthews, Marner, and Nylander are all 25 and under. I’m willing to give them time. Just because they’re good, doesn’t mean they’re ready to win.
“But Paul, it’s been 5 years. Win one round, at least!”
I agree. They probably should have won a round by now. Ah, I told myself I wasn’t going to get into this. All I’ll say is, we look at talent and immediately equate it with potential success. Talent doesn’t always lead to success, at least not right away.
I was going to call this post, “My Leafs Offseason Wishlist” but that sounded too Santa Claus-y. Plus, I don’t want to come across as the guy who says, “The Leafs HAVE to get this player!” What do I know?
I think the Leafs will be going after some post-hype players in free agency. Guys they can get on one or two-year deals, for cheap. Guys who are looking to prove themselves with a fresh start.
They kind of started that trend last year when they acquired Alex Galchenyuk. I think there’s a chance they bring him back.
So, here is my list of players I think the Leafs could take a look at:
When it comes to forwards, we’re basically looking to fill out the Bottom 6, unless we get Bertuzzi.
Also, if Nick Foligno wants to come back, let’s bring him back.
He’s currently a restricted free agent with the Detroit Red Wings. If life were a video game, the Leafs would’ve traded for him yesterday. Reportedly, the Leafs have interest in him. I’m sure a baker’s dozen teams have interest in Bertuzzi, if he can be had.
Can the Leafs put a package together? Can they afford his new contract, whatever that may be? I don’t know, I’m not the GM. I’m just here for hypotheticals.
David Pagnotta tweeted today: “Josh Ho-Sang is going to get a fresh start this summer as he looks to get back to the NHL. Keep an eye on the Toronto Maple Leafs; likely a two-way contract when completed.”
It’s felt like Ho-Sang’s career, even before he was drafted, has been filled with people he’s rubbed the wrong way because maybe he didn’t fit into hockey’s culture, where any sign of personality or emotion is singled out as “bad behaviour”.
I’d love to see the Leafs give him a shot and put him in a spot in which he can succeed.
Michael Dal Colle
The former 5th overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has yet to find much success at the NHL level. He’s 6’3, 25-years-old, from the Greater Toronto Area, and is a former top 5 pick. I’d say it’s worth taking a flier on him.
I don’t know what the market would be. If you can invite him to training camp on a PTO, and decide from there if he fits in, why not do it?
I see size, I see former Soo Greyhound, I see potential fit for Toronto.
Defensive forward, can take face-offs, can put him on the penalty kill. The Leafs have been lacking a Centre who can go out and kill penalties. And with Zach Hyman moving on to the Edmonton Oilers, a replacement is needed on the PK.
Other Names: Ondrej Kase, Jujhar Khaira, Michael Amadio, Riley Sheahan
We’re looking for this year’s Zach Bogosian. Someone we can trust, but will come cheaper than others.
I can hear my old Schenn jersey kicking in my drawer. The Leafs drafted him 5th overall in 2008. He was traded to Philadelphia for James van Riemsdyk in 2012. Schenn has been a member of the Stanley Cup Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning, for the past two years. Surely, he can come back and provide depth on D, right?
I feel like he’s been linked to the Leafs for years, or maybe that’s just in my head. Is he an upgrade on Travis Dermott? Smarter people than I shall decide.
A right shot defenseman, who can kill penalties? Sign us up.
Michael Del Zotto
Not sure if this is the type of depth defensemen we’d be in the market for, but I’ve just always liked him, so he’s making the list.
Other Names: Derek Forbort
We’re not splurging for a goaltender to pair with Jack Campbell, but I also don’t think we can afford to be cheap, either. That being said, anything over $4.5 million would probably be too much.
They know what the have with Freddy. His save percentage has gone down, while his goals against average has gone up, over the last five years in Toronto.
Do they take the chance and hope he returns to the Martin Jones of pre-2018? If so, they might need a solid third goalie, just in case.
I’ve always liked him, I don’t know if that counts for anything.
Carter Hutton reminds me of Jack Campbell, but 6 years older. He feels like someone you get to supplement your #1 goalie. The Leafs don’t have a #1 goalie right now. Or do they? I don’t know, don’t throw eggs at me.
Do they bring home the fan favourite? Do they?
Anyway, those are some players I think the Leafs could take a look at bringing in. Finding a goaltender to pair with Campbell is probably top priority, so they can see how much money they have left to bring in forwards and defensemen.
I’m also expecting GM Kyle Dubas to make a few trades because he always seems to have something up his sleeve.
Should be a fun summer. I hope.
Who do you think the Leafs should go after this offseason?