The Toronto Maple Leafs are unlikely to make many changes to their lineup this off-season. They set new franchise records for wins and points, so there isn’t much fixing needed. Due to the salary cap, Toronto will not be able to re-sign all of their free agents. So, this means some changes to the line will occur, but they might not be as big as some fans wish.
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas might make a trade or two to help his salary cap situation. According to capfriendly.com, he has $7.84 million to work with as of right now. Toronto has six unrestricted free agents (UFA) and four restricted free agents (RFA). Most of their RFAs will not put a large dent in the salary cap, but their UFAs are a different story.
One area of the Leafs lineup we could see a few changes is in the forward group. The changes could come from outside the organization when free agency starts on July 13th. One team has a few UFAs that could interest Toronto, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Penguins have five forwards becoming UFAs this off-season, and three of them could be a nice addition to Toronto’s lineup. Here is a look at those three Pittsburgh UFAs.
Toronto Maple Leafs Could Find Forward Depth From Penguins
Bryan Rust is probably the most expensive option on the Penguins that could interest Toronto. He is coming off a four-year deal with an AAV of $3.5 million. After recording 24 goals and 34 assists for 58 points in 60 games, Rust is due for a raise.
(Stats from hockey-reference.com)
Depending on how much of a raise he is looking for and what moves Toronto makes, Rust could be a nice addition to Toronto’s top six. Playing on the wing with John Tavares could be perfect for both players. He has spent his entire eight-year career with the Penguins, so there is no guarantee that he won’t re-sign with them.
Rickard Rakell is a name that many fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs might recognize. Toronto has been rumored to have shown interest in him a few times while with the Anaheim Ducks. He is coming off a six-year deal with a cap hit of $3.78 million.
Rakell recorded 20 goals and 21 assists for 41 points in 70 games. He is not likely to get more on the open market than Rust but will likely be seeking a deal over $4.5 million a season. If the Maple Leafs find a way to sign Rakell, he would be a nice addition to their third line.
Toronto fans might remember the name, Evan Rodrigues. He was part of the package sent to Toronto from Pittsburgh in August 2020 in the Kasperi Kapanen trade. His tenure did not last long as he and the Maple Leafs couldn’t agree on a qualifying offer, so Rodrigues became a free agent and re-signed with the Penguins.
During the 2021-22 season, Rodrigues recorded 19 goals and 24 assists for 43 points in 82 games. He is coming off a one-year deal that saw him making $1 million. Toronto might show interest in him as a cheaper option for their third line.
Could the Toronto Maple Leafs be interested in any of these Pittsburgh Penguin free agents? We will have to wait until July 13th to find out.