Looking Back at the Biggest Toronto Maple Leafs Canada Day Acquisitions

Captain John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Captain John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

Before the coronavirus changed the scheduling of the NHL in 2020, the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with the rest of the NHL, used to begin their free agency period on July 1st, which is Canada Day for us here in the great white north.

A few big-name players have signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Canada Day over the years, but so have many mediocre players. It was always a day met with either joy and anticipation or uncertainty and questions.

For the second year in a row, there will be no free agency period starting on Canada Day. Free agency this year will begin on July 28th and could be a very important one for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas.

Until then, here is a look back at some of the more memorable signings the team has made on Canada Day.

July 1st, 2007 – Toronto Maple Leafs Sign Jason Blake

When it comes to the signing of Jason Blake, it is a memorable one for two reasons. The first reason is that he is an example of a player who had a fantastic contract year leading up to free agency, which allowed him to maximize his value.

He had 40 goals and 29 assists for 69 points is 82 games. Before those 40 goals, Blake had never had 30 goals before, but all of a sudden he hits the open market as a 40 goal scorer. (Stats from Hockey-Reference.com)

On July 1st, 2007, Jason Blake signed a five-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs for $20 million. He was signed by Toronto because the team was looking to add another big goal scorer. (Contract info from Capfriendly.com)

That brings us to reason number two for this being a memorable signing. Blake would never score more than 25 goals as a Maple Leaf. This ultimately lead to him being traded to the Anaheim Ducks in 2010.

July 1st, 2009 – Toronto Maple Leafs Add Size and Truculence

When Brian Burke took over as the general manager in Toronto, he made it very clear that he wanted to add size and truculence to the Maple Leafs roster.

So on July 1st, 2009, Burke signed Mike Komisarek, and Colton Orr. Komisarek was signed for five years for a total of $21.5 million, and Orr was was signed for four years for a total of $4 million.

During the time that both players were with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Orr played his role much more satisfactorily than Komisarek did. Enforcers were still a part of the NHL during this time, and Orr was a valuable asset to have.

Komisarek on the other hand, never really lived up to the expectations of being a top four defender in Toronto. Between his injuries and his lack of foot speed, Komisarek quickly became a punching bag for the fans.

July 1st, 2018 – Toronto Maple Leafs Sign John Tavares

After lots of speculation as to which team John Tavares would sign with, he decided he wanted to play for his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. On July 1st, 2018, Tavares signed a huge 7-year deal worth a total of $77 million.

In his first year with the team, Tavares would have the best season of his career. He scored 47 goals and 41 assists for 88 points in 82 games. The following season, Tavares was named team captain. Although he only played 63 games in his second season due to injury and the season stoppage due to the pandemic, he still recorded 60 points.

Tavares is a key part of Toronto’s core group, which includes Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander. He has been almost a point-per-game player over his first three seasons with Toronto. The captain currently has 198 points for the Maple Leafs in 201 games played.

July 1st, 2019 – Toronto Maple Leafs Sign Jason Spezza

On July 1st, 2019, Jason Spezza decided to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs for the league minimum of $700,000. At the time, none of us knew just how beneficial he was going to be to this team.

The team doesn’t expect Spezza to score a ton of goals or be the best player on the ice every night. Those days of his career are gone. What’s not gone is his ability to be a leader, his ability to win faceoffs, and his determination to try and win a championship in Toronto.

For the third straight off-season, Spezza has signed a one-year deal for the league minimum. All he cares about is trying to try help this team win. Let’s hope that the 2021-22 season is better for him and the Toronto Maple Leafs.