3 Bargain Targets for the Toronto Maple Leafs in Free Agency

Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) /
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Vinnie Hinostroza, Chicago Blackhawks
Vinnie Hinostroza, Chicago Blackhawks (Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports) /

Nothing would feel better for the Toronto Maple Leafs than signing a cheap player that overperforms.

When you’re in a cap crunch, you need to find cost-effective players that offer more upside than their contracts. With only $9.3 million in cap space, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to find those players to fill out their roster.

The issue is cheap players are usually unproven and involve risk. It’s all about narrowing down the players with the least risk possible. Here are three skaters general manager Kyle Dubas should monitor.

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Vinnie Hinostroza

Since being drafted in the sixth round of the 2012 NHL draft, Vinnie Hinostroza has had his fair share of ups and downs. It’s encouraging yet terrifying at the same time.

Throughout his career, the Chicago native played on three teams. He got drafted by his hometown Blackhawks, got traded to Arizona one month after re-signing in Chicago, flew to Sunrise Florida as a free agent, then got traded back to Chicago last season.

This time around, the forward should receive some contract offers north of the border. That’s because he has what the Toronto Maple Leafs would love to add.

Dubas has a reputation for favoring small forwards with skill, and they have an opportunity to sign one in Hinostroza. Despite bouncing around the NHL, he has been a reliable top-nine playmaker.

He only has three seasons of 20+ points, from the ’17-’18 season to the ’19-’20 season. What stands out is his 39-point season in ’18-’19.

While the numbers don’t pop, it’s important to note that he hasn’t played with much support. With him being a playmaker, that takes a toll on his numbers.

Vinnie was buried in the depth chart with Chicago in his first three seasons. That meant his teammates were a mix of Artem Anisimov, Ryan Hartman, Richard Panik, and Nick Schmaltz. Despite playing only 50 games in ’17-’18, Hinostroza proved to be the better of the group at that time.

After playing only nine games with the Panthers, the Blackhawks brought him back via trade. After not registering one point in his short nine-game stint with Florida, the winger racked up 12 points in 17 games in Chicago.

While some players inflate their stats on the power play, Hinostroza doesn’t. Of his 112 career points, only 11 came on the power play. With that, the Toronto Maple Leafs would have a playmaking winger capable of being impactful at even strength.

Concerns are there regarding defensive play and his need for a supporting cast. That shouldn’t be as much of an issue on a team like Toronto.

With Alex Kerfoot running the third line, concerns defensively should be eased. To complement the line, a scoring winger should play on the opposite wing. Que the calls for Nick Robertson!