Jan 4, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres center Zenon Konopka (24) during a game against the New Jersey Devils at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

NHL Free Agency: Toronto Maple Leafs Biggest Need Is A Fourth-Line Center


Over the first two days of free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs have lost most of their unrestricted free agents. Dave Bolland, Nikolai Kulemin, Jay McLement and Mason Raymond have flew the coop. In return, the Leafs have brought in former Leafs Leo Komarov and Matt Frattin as well as defenseman Stephane Robidas.

With those additions, along with the acquisition of Roman Polak from St. Louis, the Leafs have filled a lot of holes in the past few weeks. Their top three lines appear set. If Joffrey Lupul and David Clarkson have bounce back years on the second line, the Leafs will be in even better shape. The defense looks to be a lot harder to play against with the acquisitions of Polak and Robidas and it’s nearly a sure thing that general manager Dave Nonisn will look to add another defenseman. However, their biggest need falls on the fourth line.

With the loss of McClement, the Leafs lose one of, if not their top faceoff man. They also lose of their top penalty-killers. Someone needs to be brought in to replace that. Now, there are some Toronto Marlies that could be ready to step in on the wing and maybe 2013 first-rounder Frederik Gauthier is ready to take on a fourth-line role, but I believe the answer lies in free agency.

Zenon Konopka might just be the perfect fit for the Leafs. Sure, he’d have to miss the first 20 games of the season for violating the NHL’s substance abuse program, but he would fit the Leafs needs. Konopka is known around the league for being an enforcer. However, unlike some of the current enforcers on the Leafs roster, Konopka has another piece to his game and that is the fact that he is pretty good on faceoffs.

The Toronto Maple Leafs love their tough players. They also need to replace the faceoff ability of McClement. Zenon Konopka would take care of both.

Tags: 2014 NHL Free Agency Featured Toronto Maple Leafs Zenon Konopka

  • Stan Smith

    I agree that if clarkson can have a bounce back year the top two lines are set. I think that holland gives them 3, if not great, at least adequate centres. I would like to see them pick up a good faceoff guy that can kill penalties ala mcclement.

    • Rick Vaive’s Jockstrap

      Yes, that’s what the Leafs need is a fourth-line center to return to Stanley Cup contention. Along with strong seasons from Dave Keon and Johnny Bower. And hopefully that leg doesn’t give Bobby Baun any more trouble.

      • Stan Smith

        The leafs aren’t going to contend for the stanley cup this year or next unless they get extremely lucky. It wouldn’t matter if they somehow made a trade for sydney crosby. Anyone that thinks they can is delusional. The goal is to get better. Their sole goal this year should be to make the playoffs period. They have a team that should be able to do that in the so so east with a few pieces added and barring injuries. I do appreciate the sarcasm though.

      • Claude Lamontagne

        Good one Rick

  • PastaSpook

    Konopka will be a bust on the leafs, they should stay away.

  • Jack Kirchhoff

    It’s hard for me to believe there isn’t a No. 4 centre available from the Marlies. Eventually, the Leafs have to give some of those guys a chance in the NHL. (I’m not a big fan of Konopka.)

    • Tim Bayer

      Trevor Smith could potentially be that guy if they get him re-signed.

      • Jack Kirchhoff

        Sorry, Tim. I meant to reply to you, but posted the Trevor Smith comment on top. Still new to this.

  • Tim Bayer

    The biggest need for the Leafs is just a good centre who can play tough minutes. Legwand can provide that. I also wouldn’t mind just rolling Bozak-Kadri-Holland-Random Marlie. Konopka isn’t good.

    • Stan Smith

      Wow Tim. You and I actually agree on something. LOL. I’m wondering though if Jeff threw Konopka in the mix to get a reaction from people. Wouldn’t it be interesting seeing a line of Konopka, Orr and Mclaren? They could call it Slapshot 4 (or has that already been done?)

      • Jeffrey Langridge

        I threw him out there just as option. If the Leafs were to bring in, I would say Orr and McLaren would be playing with the Marlies.

  • Jack Kirchhoff

    Trevor Smith would be one such centre. Big guy, good wheels. I’ve always like these long-time minor leaguers, in any sport. They’ve made all their mistakes already and tend to play a sound, fundamental game.

  • A13276

    Zenon Konopka – really, I mean really??? What’s he going to do after the faceoff? You’d put a Leaf sweater on him – ugh!

  • DrTek

    There’s still shallow offense on the Leafs. For example, Clarkson was a bust, they should have bought him out, like they did with Bolland, then anti up for someone like Kessler, (who got snapped up by Anaheim) except it appears Nonis has no imagination when it comes to building strength, size and leadership up front. It will be another bust year for the Leafs, is my prediction.

    • Stan Smith

      They didn’t buy bolland out. I don’t think you want to give up on clarkson after one season, especially the way clarkson’s season started. I think you at least give him another season to see if he can bounce back. Besides, offense wasn’t their biggest problem by far. It was keeping the puck out of their own net.

    • D.WAdair

      You don’t buy a player out after one year, plus Kessler had a say in where he wanted to go so Nonis had nothing to do with it Teky

      • Claude Lamontagne

        They did with Grabovsky not so long ago

  • A13276

    Who woulda thunk that Nonis would have a cool $5 million in his sock drawer after all the bloodletting. That’s after accounting for recent signings and RFA money due. Now we can sit back and wait for a player of consequence to become available as a result of a team in CAP trouble without having to move money out or penetrating the 10% CAP overage ceiling. Good work Nonis. Talk about value for your dollars. The bottom 6 has been drastically changed and upgraded. Santorelli can fly, has hands and loves to bang; he became available because he was a find of the Gillis regime (Nucks fans aren’t happy seeing him leave); Kontiola (“I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know”), had 5 or 6 NHL teams interested in him; has skill and one of his strengths is reported as “running a power play”; Komorov will get all of Kulemin’s quiet minutes and dramatically help last year’s abysmal penalty kill (28th from 2nd the year before when Komorov was here and we made the playoffs); Frattin can play and is tough on the puck. So we have an improved bottom six, penalty kill and defense. And Nonis still has $5 mil in cap space to burn and tradeable assets in Franson and Reimer. And don’t be too surprised that Nylander forces his way into the Leafs top 6; that’s his plan.

  • Claude Lamontagne

    What Toronto really need is 20 good players. At this moment they have only Bernier and Kessel