8. Mike Matheson
Matheson is 29 years old and currently playing for the Montreal Canadiens.
Matheson is making just under $5 million and would be an upgrade over pretty much every Leafs defender save Rielly and Liljegren.
There is some risk here, because Matheson doesn’t exactly have a track record of posting great numbers, but he does seem to get results – for the last five seasons, including this one, Matheson has won his minutes.
Maybe he hasn’t deserved to win them – his expected goals numbers aren’t great- but he has an overall positive impact over the last five seasons playing for mostly bad teams.
I think if the Leafs were to acquire a guy like Tanev to go on the top pair with Rielly, that Matheson could be a nice addition to replace Klingberg on the roster, and he could take McCabe’s spot on the second pairing next to the eventually healthy Liljegren.
McCabe would look much nicer on the third pairing, and Brodie’s decline, which is pretty obvious on the Leafs top pairing, wouldn’t hurt the team much, if at all, on the third pairing.
I don’t love this as a major move, but if someone like Dobson isn’t an option, then a combination of Tanev and Matheson would be pretty decent.