Toronto Maple Leafs: Every Pending UFA in the Central Division

Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues vs Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues vs Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Matt Nieto of the Colorado Avalanche vs the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche have one of the more dynamic rosters in hockey. Their energy and youth make them a fun team to watch. With 12 players about to become free agents and six of them being unrestricted, GM Joe Sakic will have his work cut out for him this offseason.

Michael Hutchinson

Michael Hutchinson had a rough season that began with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Before they traded him to Colorado, he was, unfortunately, the butt of many jokes. Early in Hutchinson’s career with the Winnipeg Jets, he looked as though he could be something special. At this point, he will just be happy to have an NHL job next year.

Hutch got lit up in Toronto this season. In 15 games with the Buds, 11 of which he started, the keeper went 4-9-1 with a goals-against-average of 3.66 and a save percentage of 0.886.

Hutchinson managed to only get into one game since joining the Avs but he did well. He won that game while letting just one shot get past him.

Next season, Hutchinson will be happy to receive a league minimum contract in the NHL though he’s more likely to just to get a tryout opportunity for a club at training camp.

Vladislav Namestnikov

Vladislav Namestnikov joined the Avalanche on trade deadline day from the Ottawa Senators for a fourth-round pick. His impact on the roster was immediate. In nine games, Namestnikov scored four goals and two assists.

It helped that Namestnikov was inserted into the Avs top line upon his arrival. This allowed him to play with more talented and faster linemates than he had with Ottawa. Namestnikov also got used on coach Jared Bednar’s powerplay. This will help him as he negotiates his next contract.

Matt Nieto

Matt Nieto didn’t get the same treatment as Namestnikov. Instead, he played on the team’s third line for an average of 13:30 minutes per game. The left-winger managed to post eight goals and 13 assists in 70 games while playing a very effective style.

Since Nieto isn’t overly physical, he relies on strong puck possession and aggressive forechecking. It’s made him an ideal third-line player who Bednar can trust to deploy to chase down pucks. Nieto also has some scoring prowess that he’s used to get over 20 points in each of his last three seasons.

Mark Barberio and Kevin Connauton

Mark Barberio and Kevin Connauton are defensemen who play on the left side for the Avs. Both men played in the majors and minors this season, adding depth to the organization. Barberio played four games for the Colorado Eagles and 21 for the Avalanche. Connauton played 38 games for the Eagles and just four for the Avs.

As could be expected, the players looked much better when playing in the AHL. Connauton was able to be used in the minors in a way that worked to his strengths, as an offensive defenseman.

He did not have the luxury to play the same way when up with the Avs. Both these players will likely be signed with a team and used similarly, as organizational depth.