Should the Toronto Maple Leafs Pursue Jake DeBrusk in Free-Agency?

Maple Leafs Interested in Bruins Jake Debrusk & Linus Ullmark
Maple Leafs Interested in Bruins Jake Debrusk & Linus Ullmark / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

The Boston Bruins eliminated the Toronto Maple Leafs from the NHL Playoffs less than a month ago. Still, it appears the two rivals have already reconnected following the hard-fought series to discuss off-season moves. Both teams have committed to making significant changes this off-season in hopes of reaching the Stanley Cup Final. 

Some have speculated that the Toronto Maple Leafs are interested in pending free agent Jake DeBrusk and former Vezina Trophy winner Linus Ullmark, who has one more year left on his contract. 

These aren't really rumours as much as they are common sense - of course the Leafs will be interested in those players if they become available - as will every single team in the NHL.

While both DeBrusk and Ullmark are undoubtedly intriguing players, their potential acquisition comes with significant financial implications. The Leafs should consider this risk this off-season before taking big swings on players that will not help the defensive issues they had last season. 

Toronoto Maple Leafs Need To Avoid Jake DeBrusk In Free Agency

There is no denying that DeBrusk is a great player, and if any fanbase knows that outside of the Bruins, it should be Leafs Nation, as DeBrusk had 11 points in 11 games against the blue and white this season. He also put up 11 points in 13 playoff games for the Bruins before being eliminated by the Panthers in the second round of the NHL Playoffs. 

While DeBrusk has expressed that, ideally, he would like to stay with the Boston Bruins, he has now entirely played out his two-year $8,000,000 contract and is headed toward free agency without a contract extension and is set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career. 

Combine Debrusk's most recent playoff performances with his 2024 regular season excellence. Debrusk will be one of the most sought-after free agents this off-season. Despite only scoring 40 points, Debrusk ranked among the top 13 percent of forwards in offensive wins above replacement (WAR). 

Now, people may question, how is it that a guy who only put up 40 points is due for a raise when he is already making $4,000,000 a year? Well, the answer is bad luck. Last year, DeBrusk ranked among the bottom 21 percent of forwards in finishing and primary assists. But at the same time ranked among the top 15 percent in shot contributions, top 20 percent in primary shot assists, and top 10 percent in high-danger passes.

DeBrusk is also a physical presence, unafraid to get involved in the forecheck and throw his weight around. He also grades out as a slightly above-average defender and penalty killer. 

This is all stuff any team competing for a championship would love to have on their roster, which is why the DeBrusk market will be competitive. However, quite a few big names in this year's free-agent class could allow DeBrusk to fly under the radar. 

Debrusk would be an imporovement over both Max Domi or Tyler Bertuzzi, but he's 27 and going to sign a very long, very expensive contract. Is a seven-year deal for $6 million for this kind of player the best use of resources? Probably not, and that is why the Leafs should look elsewhere.

The Maple Leafs Need A Goalie, But Not Linus Ullmark

Again, there is no denying that Ullmark is a great goaltender. But how good is he when he's not on the Bruins?

Over the last two seasons, the Bruins have been historically great, and they've done it while playing a tandem in net.

Ullmark is a statistical top-10 goaltender in the NHL, precisely what the Maple Leafs should be looking for. But despite having a 2.52 goals-against average and a .915 save percentage throughout his nine-year NHL career and winning the Vezina Trophy in 2023, Ullmark isn't on the level of a Sorokin, Vasilevskiy or Hellebuyck.

Over three playoff runs with the Boston Bruins (10 starts), Ullmark has a 3.80 goals-against-average and a 0.880 save percentage.  Considering how random goalies can be in the NHL, taking a goalie whose been used in a tandem and who has bad playoff stats doesn't seem like a sure thing at all.

These playoff struggles are enough for me to pause at the $5,000,00 price tag Ullmark carries. While the Leafs need for an elite goalie is urgent, Ullmark carries a ton of risk.


Clearly the Toronto Maple Leafs need a goalie, just not Ullmark.