One pending unrestricted free agent the Maple Leafs can steal from their Atlantic Division rivals

The Toronto Maple Leafs could still use another player or two that will improve their defense for 2024-25, and they may not need to look far to improve their lineup.
Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs
Detroit Red Wings v Toronto Maple Leafs / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
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Matt Grzelcyk, Boston Bruins/Defenseman

Matt Grzelcyk is likely the best option on this list capable of providing sound defense. He can play on either the second or third pairing, as his 17:36 of average total ice time implies, and he’s someone a team could rely on to block at least one shot per game. 

Thanks to Toronto’s goaltending woes, that would be a major boost for whoever lines up in the crease next season, though signs are pointing toward Ilya Samsonov. Grzelcyk has also shown a resurgence this season in the short-handed game, logging 53.6 minutes in 60 games at 4-on-5 and, with it, an on-ice save percentage of 86.7. 

One more major defensive statistic to know is Grzelcyk’s on-ice save percentage at 5-on-5, which sits at 94.1 for his career. No, that probably wouldn’t be the case in Toronto, but it also shows us that the blueliner’s play has helped more than just goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman, thanks to that number’s overall consistency. 

While defense would be the primary motivation to bring in Grzelcyk, it’s also tough to completely underestimate his offensive game. No, he’s not much of a scorer, and no, his Corsi For at 5-on-5 won’t impress you this season, but he has shown the ability to help make plays happen offensively in the past with a career Corsi of 52.7. 


(Statistics provided by Hockey-Reference)