3 Players The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Avoid In Free Agency

Edmonton Oilers v Dallas Stars - Game Two
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Dakota Joshua

Projection: Four years, $3.25 million AAV

There are countless examples of cautionary tales available when it comes to signing players who have “break-out years” heading towards free agency in their late 20’s. Canucks forward Dakota Joshua may be the next major example.

Joshua, a former fifth round pick by the Leafs in 2014, had a decent but unremarkable career at Ohio State University after being drafted.

This lead to him being traded for future considerations to the St. Louis Blues in the summer of 2019. After spending the following three seasons bouncing from the ECHL to AHL, to NHL tweener, with the Blues he signed as a free agent and has spent the past two seasons playing in a bottom-six role for the Canucks. 

He amassed 23 points in 79 games in 2022-23 and then this past season reached 32 in 63 games playing on a fantastic line with Teddy Blueger and Conor Garland.

He followed this up with eight points in 13 playoff games. In that role he played a more bang and crash, netfront game that saw him clean up rebounds and score greasy goals.

This is exactly what Leafs GM Brad Treliving has said he wants and this could cause Joshua to come full-circle and rejoin the Leafs. 

However, the team should proceed with caution. As mentioned above, when these types of players hit free agency, they have a tendency to be overvalued and their contracts do not typically age well. A few recent examples include: Troy Brouwer, Brandon Tanev, Brock McGinn, and Barclay Goodrow. If Dakota Joshua makes this list in a few seasons time, let's cross our fingers that it is not because of a Leafs deal.

The Leafs should also be concerned that Joshua's shooting-percentage was sky-high last year and completely unsustainable. He shot 21%, which is higher than Auston Matthews has ever finished a season with.

Is Dakota Joshua a better shooter than Auston Matthews or did he just have a really lucky season? Whover signs him should be confident they know the answer to this question.