5 Free Agent Defensemen Toronto Maple Leafs Should Target

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Nikita Zadorov

Nakita Zadorov is a 29-year-old left-shooting defenseman who could help the Leafs by bolstering their second defense pairing.

He can play both right and left sides. Zadorov averages 18 minutes a night and uses his big body to wear down the opponent. He is more of the stay-at-home style of defenseman, so it would be wise to pair him with a puck-moving defense partner.

Zadorov registered six goals and 14 assists for 20 points in 75 games this season, split between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks. He also registered 68 blocked shots and 177 hits. He is very well known to Leafs GM Brad Treliving from his time with the Flames. That might make signing him easier. Zadorov has a career total of 47 goals and 99 assists for 146 points in 642 games.

Adding Zadorov would help the Leafs maintain a physical blueline, especially if Joel Edmundson or Ilya Lyubushkin leave in free agency. He is a huge upgrade over those guys.

Losing both of those defensemen is not ideal for the Leafs depth, but they can't afford to have either of them playing as high in the lineup as Lyubushkin was playing.

If one or both of them leave, the Leafs would become much less physical. Zadorov could fill that need as well as help out in the playoffs. He has four goals and three assists for seven points in nine playoff games for the Canucks as they look to beat the Edmonton Oilers and advance to the Conference Finals.

Zadorov is coming off a deal with a $3.75 million salary cap hit. He will easily earn $5 million or more in the free-agent market, but maybe Treliving can convince him to take a little less. We'll see what happens starting on July 1st, 2024.