The Toronto Maple Leafs Biggest Concern Is Not Nylander

TORONTO, CANADA - JANUARY 27: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for play to resume against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 27, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 6-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
TORONTO, CANADA - JANUARY 27: William Nylander #88 of the Toronto Maple Leafs waits for play to resume against the Ottawa Senators during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on January 27, 2023 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Senators defeated the Maple Leafs 6-2. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs and William Nylander will likely agree to a new deal soon.

However, it doesn’t matter if Nylander re-signs for $8 million or $9 million a season. He is not the Toronto Maple Leafs biggest concern.

The Leafs biggest concern is going to be defense and goaltending after this season.

Of the seven defensemen listed on the Leafs active roster, only three are under contract beyond this season. Out of those three, only Morgan Rielly is under contract beyond next season. It is likely that Timothy Liljegren will re-sign after this season when he becomes a restricted free agent (RFA), and top defense prospect Topi Niemela will make the jump to the NHL soon.

T.J. Brodie ($5 million), John Klingberg ($4.15 million), and Mark Giordano ($800,000) will be unrestricted free agents after this season. All three roster spots will need to be filled while also re-signing Liljegren. Jake Muzzin ($5.625 million) will also come off the books after this season. (Salary cap info from capfriendly.com)

As for the Leafs goaltending, Ilya Samsonov ($3.55 million) and Martin Jones ($875,000) will become UFAs after this season. Matt Murray ($4.687 million) will also become a UFA next summer. The only main-roster goaltender signed beyond this season is Joseph Woll.

Many things can change between now and next July. However, the Leafs main focus next off-season will be defense and goaltending.

Leafs GM Brad Treliving could have many intriguing options next summer. Right now, without Nylander signed, the Leafs have $33.4 million in available cap space for next season.

Here is a look at a few UFAs the Leafs could target. Some of these players could re-sign with their current team before next summer. For right now, they are pending UFAs after this season.