The Toronto Maple Leafs were in the running to sign ‘Mr. Game Seven’, Justin Williams, until he signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.
As the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the race to take first in the Atlantic division, they were looking to increase their chances of winning it, and making a deep playoff run (which they still will).
Williams is said to have a lot of family in Carolina, where he now re-signed. He also has family in his hometown of Cobourg Ontario, just an over an hour drive from Scotiabank Arena.
However, the 38-year-old wouldn’t have fit right into the Toronto Maple Leafs salary cap situation. If they were going to sign him to a deal, which would likely be around league minimum, they would’ve had to make a trade to create space.
Toronto Maple Leafs Always Interested in Improving
If he was to sign with the Leafs though, he would’ve been a massive player that was leaned on in the playoffs. With the type of experience he has (most game-seven points in NHL history) and the experience he can teach, it was worth it for the Toronto Maple Leafs to at least look into it, which they did.
The 28th overall pick in the 2000 NHL draft had 23 goals and 30 assists last season, which put him 3rd in Carolina Hurricanes scoring. If he did join the Toronto Maple Leafs, he could’ve been a versatile winger, who could move up and down the lineup.
The Toronto Maple Leafs do have an abundance of forwards who are very capable of scoring, but do they have someone with the resume of Williams? No.
The Leafs obviously saw in Williams a cheaper version of what they previously saw in Patrick Marleau: a quality person who can provide leadership to the team, and who can still chip in with the odd goal or point.
It’s too bad that they weren’t able to get Williams because he’s not only a famous game-seven scorer, but he provides excellent defense, something the Leafs could probably use.
With it now being known that the Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for a veteran leadership presence, it will be interesting to see who else they may pursue in this vein.
Then again, perhaps they just specifically like Williams and are not after a leadership type player specifically.
The Toronto Maple Leafs play the Jets tonight, unfortunately without Williams.