The Toronto Maple Leafs won’t be bringing in a new manager or coach, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be making huge changes.
The Toronto Maple Leafs drafted so badly around their first round selections in 2015-17 that they were not able to supplement their roster with talented players on entry-level, league minimum, contracts.
This is obviously not the only reason they’ve failed to have success, but it sure hasn’t helped. Outside of Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin’s regular season contributions this year, the team hasn’t had much in the way of graduating prospects over the last few seasons.
Next year will see this problem end, and subsequently the Leafs are going to have a lot of roster turnover this summer.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Turnover
On forward the Leafs have Matthews, Marner, Bunting, Tavares, Nylander, Kampf all signed and ready to return. It would be shocking (and shockingly stupid) to see any of those players traded.
The next six forwards though, are highly likely to change.
Alex Kerfoot is really underrated, but $3.5 is too much for a non-star, and if the team wants to find money, this is the easiest place to do it.
Likewise with Engvall and Mikheyev, two useful players who’s effectiveness will be hurt with a higher salary. Raises to these two pending RFAs likely means both are gone.
Clifford and Simmonds are both signed, but likely unwanted. I doubt either is on next year’s team. Spezza wants to come back, but he was healthy scratched and I doubt he does. He’s popular with fans and players, so maybe we’ll see him again. Blackwell, looks good but got horrible results, I don’t care either way about him, but he’s a good NHL depth piece at the league minimum if he re-signs.
The reason the Leafs can let these players go is that they have a massive influx of talent waiting in the wings.
Though there is no guarantee that anyone is going to even make the team, but Nick Robertson, Matthews Knies, Alex Steeves, Joey Anderson and Roni Hirvonen give the Leafs a lot of talent on the verge of making the NHL.
Perhaps one of Evgvall/Mikheyev/Kerfoot returns, but realistically, the Leafs have proven time and time again that quality players are available at the league minimum, so there is very little value in overpaying mid-range players.
While finding another Michael Bunting or David Kampf will be in the Leafs plans, their ability to get significantly better will depend on the emergence of one of the aforementioned young forwards into a viable NHL star.
While there is no way to know if that will happen, it really shouldn’t be too difficult to swap out six mid-range or below forwards with some combination of rookies, value contracts and Jason Spezza in order to maintain the status quo, which is at a very high level already.