Chris Johnston of Sportsnet finally provided us with some free-agent news today when he wrote a piece on the Toronto Maple Leafs’ contract negotiations with some of their pending FAs.
Accoridng to Johnston, both Nikolai Kulemin and Dave Bolland are expected to test free agency after making little headway in talks with Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis. Players are allowed to interview with teams tomorrow, but cannot be signed until July 1.
Fellow pending unrestricted free agents Mason Raymond, Paul Ranger and Jay McClement are also far from re-signing, Johnston reported. Negotiations between the Toronto Maple Leafs and restricted free agent Jake Gardiner, however, are progressing well. The Leafs are believed to be looking for a two-year bridge contract worth “between $2.25-million and $3-million per season.”
I don’t find the news about Kulemin, Raymond, Ranger and McClement particularly surprising. Kulemin’s role has been almost strictly as a third-line winger the last couple of seasons, and in the few occasions he’s had opportunities on the second line, he hasn’t produced. Kulemin surely believes he can be given a more offensive role elsewhere.
Raymond was a pleasant surprise in 2013-14, scoring 19 goals and 45 points after signing a one-year deal worth $1-million during training camp. However, he’ll be looking for a healthy raise, and Nonis may be unwilling to pay it.
Ranger played better as the season went on, but was usually slotted in as the seventh defenseman. There simply isn’t room for him on the blue line. McClement was one of the Leafs’ worst possession players at even strength and on the penalty kill last season.
The news of Bolland testing free agency is a little more surprising. The Leafs seemed to be very interested in bringing Bolland back, but at the end of the day, his contract demands might scare them off. There’s still plenty of time before July 1, however, and I’d imagine talks to ramp up at the draft this weekend.