The Toronto Maple Leafs have an interesting off-season ahead of them.
After losing to the Boston Bruins in the first round of the NHL Playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs have some serious questions to ask themselves.
The Leafs are on the right track and are building something special. They’ve got Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Freddie Andersen and Morgan Rielly.
If they don’t have the best roster in the NHL, they’re incredibly close to it.
The loss in the first round is typically being blown out of all proportion, but Kyle Dubas has done a fantastic job. No one else in the NHL this year added a top centre and a top defenseman.
Additionally, Dubas made a ton of smart, no-risk signings that is going to help the Leafs over the little salary cap squeeze they are faced with. (Which exists due to contracts handed out to Zaitsev and Marleau).
The Toronto Maple Leafs are on the right track. Their roster is amazing and they’ve got someone who either is or is on the way to being the best general manager in the NHL.
There might be a trade or two. A little surprise along the way is always fun. But barring any unexpected blockbusters, the Leafs off-season plan isn’t hard to figure out.
I’m going to lay it out here for you, and you can come back in see in six months how I did.
Off-Season Player Movement Checklist
The Toronto Maple Leafs will:
Re-Sign Mitch Marner – It’s going to happen soon.
Re-Sign both Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen. The thought they can’t keep both is just flat-out pessimistic. Unless the Leafs absolutely fail to clear salary, expect both to be back.
Trade Nazem Kadri. I love Kadri and will hate to see him go. I would like to see him stay, but my prediction is he goes.
Say good-bye to Ron Hainsey. Not only should Ron Hainsey not be re-signed, anyone in the Leafs front office who even suggests such a thing should be fired. The oldest and worst defenseman on the Leafs should not be welcomed back under any circumstances.
Get rid of Nikita Zaitsev. Under $5 million for a RHD who can move the puck? They won’t get much for him, but it will be easier to move him than some people think.
Jake Gardiner – stays. Because Gardiner and Dermott were hurt so soon after the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Jake Muzzin, they never got to fully experience what it’s like to have one of the best top-fours in hockey. I think they’ll find a way to retain it.
Patrick Marleau – Gone. Dubas will find a way, and honestly, since he doesn’t make any actual money (it’s pretty much all cap-hit) I’d be shocked if he’s back.
Connor Brown – Gone. The coach loves him, but he’s played his last game for the Leafs.
Zach Hyman – Gone. He’s a fan favorite for good reason, but like it not, the Leafs don’t value grit in the same way their fan base does, and the numbers say you’re better off with someone who scores more. Plus, he makes too much money for the position in the lineup he should occupy (which isn’t in the top six).
There you have it. Nine things the Toronto Maple Leafs will do this summer.