With the off-season now in full swing for the Toronto Maple Leafs, General Manager Dave Nonis is no doubt deliberating on who to bring back and who to let go. Unfortunately in a salary cap world it is just not possible to re-sign all your unrestricted free agents. With that being said, every team certainly has some UFA’s that they don’t plan on bringing back anyway.
The Leafs, much like every other team, have to evaluate the importance of each player while making sure to leave enough cash to ink any RFA’s and some UFA’s that other teams have cast aside.
Let’s look at the six roster players the Leafs have to make decisions on.
Bozak is someone the Leafs will want to re-sign, but only at the right price. He was playing in the number one centre role this season; however, Bozak probably wouldn’t be in that position on many other teams in the league. He is a strong face-off man, but his other attributes are lacking in what you need from a number one centre.
He made just $1.5M this season and if he is only looking for between $3M and $4M this summer, then signing him would be a wise move. If he is looking for $5M-plus a year though, then Toronto should let him walk and use that money to look at other centres on the open market.
MacArthur had just eight goals in this shortened campaign and you can usually rely on him to be a 20 goal man. His contribution to the Leafs’ depth was evident in the playoffs when the team’s secondary scoring all but vanished. MacArthur had two pivotal goals against the Boston Bruins to help the series reach seven games.
His salary of $3.2M does seem a bit steep though for the type of production he provides and if he wants a raise the Leafs should probably promote some younger players from the Marlies to fill that role.
Orr should be commended for how he got into better shape this season, but re-signing him makes little sense. He has about as much offensive ability as Happy Gilmore and if the Leafs learned anything from the Boston series, it should have been that an effective fourth line can make a big difference. Toronto often had to shorten its bench late in games and if they could provide Jay McClement with a couple of decent wingers, the Leafs could have the makings of a solid checking group. Orr’s ability in the fisticuffs department shouldn’t warrant a new deal.
Hamilton should be a must sign for the Leafs as he has shown solid offensive skills down with the Marlies over the years. He had 30 goals in just 56 AHL games this season and didn’t look out-of-place when he was up with the Leafs as well. Toronto could probably ink him to a fairly cheap deal and he would fit in perfectly alongside McClement on that fourth line.
O’Byrne came to the Leafs at the deadline as an insurance policy heading into the playoffs. He played sparingly down the stretch and was good to have around when the blue line suffered some injuries, but Toronto has enough depth on defense to let him go. Korbinian Holzer and Jesse Blacker are going to get more of a look next year, so keeping O’Byrne doesn’t make sense.
Another reason the Leafs can part with O’Byrne is the fact that Kostka was used so much this season. Kostka had his struggles, but that seemed to be more the way Randy Carlyle was utilizing him as opposed to his actual play. He was put in situations he just wasn’t ready for. Kostka showed a fair amount of upside and if the Leafs can keep him at a reasonable price, he wouldn’t be a bad guy to have around as a fifth, sixth, or seventh defenseman.