Grades for Each of the Toronto Maple Leafs Free-Agency Moves

May 25, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Chris Tanev (3) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
May 25, 2024; Dallas, Texas, USA; Dallas Stars defenseman Chris Tanev (3) in action during the game between the Dallas Stars and the Edmonton Oilers in game two of the Western Conference Final of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
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Missing Out on Steve Stamkos, a Cheap Chychrun and Nikita Zadorov

Zadorov is a 3rd pairing player but he's got 1st pairing upside and he's the biggest player since Chara. I wanted the Leafs to get him and I'd much rather have paid what Boston did and passed on Domi and OEL to make it happen.

I think Zadorov was the best player available today and it stinks the Leafs couldn't pull it off, especially since they were rumoured to be doing so.

The cost of Chychrun, whose addition would actually have made the Leafs better was an absolute steal and like the Ulmark trade you have to wonder why the Leafs weren't involved.

As for missing out on the chance to bring home Stamkos, that is just lame.

C- (cause you can't really hold it against them if guys made other choices).

Overall Performance

For the second year in a row Brad Treliving had about $20 million to spend and for the second year in a row he did not make the team $20 million better.

Sure, having Chris Tanev makes the Leafs a better team, but the problems are more about what they didn't get. By getting expensive pieces and not searching for value, or committing to younger players, they made it hard on themselves and didn't, I don't think, properly fix or do enought to address their problems.

They are still a team with extremely questionionable goaltending and Pontus Holmberg as their 3C. They still have David Kampf, Calle Jarnkrok, Connor Timmins and Ryan Reaves taking up the worst spent $7 million in the NHL. They did not improve their secondary scoring. They did not any single piece that seems likely to make a massive difference.

Chris Tanev if he stays healthy makes the Leafs better. It's a big bet that he does but a more creative team might have found a younger and more sure path to improvement. Maybe not, its a hard move to evaluate. What are the odd Chris Tanev is a superstar who adds two or three wins to the Leafs season and makes them hard to beat in the playoffs? One in ten? One in twenty? Who can say but i'd need like 5:1 odd to bet on it.

Ultimately the Leafs needed to add a game breaking defenseman and they might have in a best-case scenario. They needed to add a top goalie and they didn't. They needed a third-line centre, and they didn't get that either.

For all the risk they took, they don't get much upside. Losing Bertuzzi hurts more than it seems because he was a star, even if he had a bad luck season when it comes to scoring. Losing Bertuzzi takes a lot of the gains out of signing Tanev and no one else they got really improves the team.

So their best move is not guaranteed to even help them signficantly and it's impact is lowered by losing an impact player in Bertuzzi.

The goaltending is barely improved, if it did at all. The blue-line is a lot better but it's also super-old and lacks upside. The Leafs spent a lot of money but didn't get much for it. They do not seem creative, bold or aggressive.

They seem like they are outdated, passive and unsure of themselves.

manual

Overall Free-Agency Grade: C- (I would have went lower but I think there is some chance Woll and Tanev both stay healthy and turn in star seasons).