The Toronto Maple Leafs do not appear set to be big spending in this year’s free agent market.
After setting an NHL record and signing the most expensive unrestricted free-agent in NHL history last season, when they signed successful human/robot hybrid John Tavares, the Toronto Maple Leafs are not expected to make a big splash this season.
Unfortunately, the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t have the cap space – barring an extraordinary turn of events – to compete for this year’s prize stallions.
Erik Karlsson would look great in the Blue and White, but it’s a dream that will sadly never come to fruition.
But just because they can’t sign the best of the best doesn’t mean the Leafs can’t be active in the UFA market.
One player that I would like to see them target is Joonas Donskoi of the San Jose Sharks.
Donskoi is a right shooting, right-winger from Finland. He was a fourth round pick by the Panthers in 2010 and is 27 years old.
Donskoi spent this season playing mostly on a line with Tomas Hertl and Evandar Kane on the San Jose Sharks.
It was his fourth season with the Sharks and he had a career high 47 points.
Now, you might as why the Leafs would sign another right winger, but I would say that left wing, right wing, who cares? Nylander is excelling on the left side in the Worlds, and I happen to think that positions in the NHL (especially on the wing) should be much more fluid.
There is no reason why Donskoi, Nylander, Kapanen or even Marner couldn’t line up on the left side.
Donksoi will be looking for a raise on the $1.9 million he made this season, and maybe that probably prices him out of the Leafs market (they may not be interested in paying anyone above the league minimum to play lower than the top six).
But if Donskoi ends up having trouble finding a suitor (the NHL does seem to be trending away from giving older, lower lineup players term and money) and the Leafs can get him on a bargain, he might be a very useful pickup.
In his four seasons in the NHL, Donskoi has always, 100% of the time, been a positive differential player in shot-attempts, shots and scoring chances. (Stats naturalstattrick.com). Just once did his goals-for percentage slip under 50%, and that was a year in which he had a rock-bottom on-ice shooting percentage.
The numbers don’t lie, and when Donskoi is on the ice, his team always wins out in the long-run. He would be an exceptional addition to the Toronto Maple Leafs fourth line who could move up and play higher when necessary.
If he can be had cheaply, Donskoi would be a hell of a pick up.