2 Canucks Free Agents that the Toronto Maple Leafs Could Pursue

Dakota Joshua and Nikita Zadorov are reportedly on the Toronto Maple Leafs radar. Either one or both could have a significant impact on the Leafs' lineup, helping build Craig Berube and Brad Treliving's collective vision.
Two Vancouver Canucks free agents could transform the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup
Two Vancouver Canucks free agents could transform the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup / Derek Cain/GettyImages

I was intrigued to learn about a recent comment by Rick Dhaliwal of the Donnie and Dhali Show. The duo covers news related to the Vancouver Canucks. So, it seemed interesting to hear Dhaliwal discuss the possibility of theToronto Maple Leafs potentially pursuing two Vancouver free agents: Dakota Joshua and Nikita Zadorov.

The Toronto Maple Leafs are definitely rumoured to be interested in Nikita Zadorov, as they have been rumoured to be pursuing him since last season.

Joshua is less likely, but his name has also been out there.

So, let’s take a closer look at why each player could potentially be a good fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs for this upcoming season.

2 Canucks Free Agents that the Toronto Maple Leafs Could Pursue

Dakota Joshua

Dakota Joshua is the type of player that fits Craig Berube and Brad Treliving’s shared vision. He’s the sort of player who blends physicality and scoring abilities. While Joshua would most likely slot into a bottom-six role, he could blossom into a potentially middle-six option.

Joshua could potentially replace one of Tyler Bertuzzi or Max Domi. However, if I had to choose, I would much rather have Joshua than Bertuzzi. Joshua could even become a potential replacement for what Zach Hyman or Michael Bunting was on the Auston Matthews line. Perhaps that might be stretching it a bit, but Joshua’s worth considering in that role.

Overall, Joshua would be a suitable replacement for Bertuzzi at a much lower cost. Plus, his connection to Craig Berube makes Joshua an appropriate fit for the Leafs next season. I envision him playing with John Tavares and William Nylander much the way Bobby McMann did.

On the downside, Joshua shot over 20% last season on his way to a 18 goals in 68 games that he'll almost certainly not be able to repeat. Paying UFA money to a grinder who is coming off a career season is always a high risk.

Nikita Zadorov

Zadorov should get plenty of attention on the open market. But perhaps the Leafs have an inside track. Zadorov has been familiar with Brad Treliving since their Calgary days. That connection could, at the very least, give the Leafs a foot in the door.

Zadorov is great at defending the rush, and he's absolutely massive. He appears to be making a late-career breakout towards being a top pairing defender, but he's never actually been that before. The potential to overpay here is massive, but the rewards could also be sky-high.

Zadorov could potentially form a shutdown pair with McCabe, allowing Simon Benoit to slide into a more natural third-pairing situation. If that’s the case, the Leafs would suddenly become one of the toughest teams to play against in the Eastern Conference.

While I must admit I’m not a big Zadorov fan, the idea of having a true shutdown pair sends a warm feeling inside me. The Leafs have sorely lacked this sort of defensive setup since the early 2000s.

What About the Cost?

Joshua is coming out of a two-year deal with a cap hit of $825K, according to PuckPedia. It’s reasonable to expect that he won’t be signing for that this summer. So, let’s assume the Leafs splurge and sign him for $2 to $2.5 million. That’s half of what Bertuzzi made last season.

Now, how about Zadorov?

According to PuckPedia, Zadorov had a $3.75 million cap hit last season. Let’s say that Zadorov gets a $2 million pay bump. That would put him in the $5.5 to $6 million range. The Leafs can afford that, considering they gave John Klingberg $5 million last season. Zadorov may be willing to sign for that dollar value if the term is right.


Ultimately, the Leafs could have the makings of two highly savvy signings thanks to their newfound old-school identity.