The 5 Best Toronto Maple Leafs Free Agent Signings in the Auston Matthews Era

Who were the Leafs most significant free agent signings that paid off in the past decade?
Toronto Maple Leafs v Edmonton Oilers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Edmonton Oilers / Codie McLachlan/GettyImages
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T.J. Brodie

With Hainsey leaving following the 2018-19 season, the Maple Leafs were left without a reliable, top-pairing defenseman to partner with Rielly until the 2020 offseason when they reeled in a big fish.

It was during free agency where the Leafs finally landed defensive stalwart T.J. Brodie on a four-year, $20 million deal. Toronto had expressed interest earlier in Brodie when they tried to obtain him from Calgary in a trade involving Nazem Kadri that was ultimately vetoed. But this time, the Leafs got their man.

With Brodie and his mastery of shot-blocking, positioning and breaking up plays, he helped stabilize the Leafs defensive corps for multiple seasons.

Brodie also became a steady partner with Rielly for a significant chunk of the time. In his 274 games with the club, Brodie amassed 8 goals and 74 assists for 82 points while averaging more than 21 minutes a game on a regular basis to shut down opposing teams’ top lines.

While his renowned defending abilities did severely regress during this past season, up to a point where he was practically unplayable during the playoffs, Brodie did provide full value to the Leafs during his first three seasons with the team when he was counted on to deal with the toughest assignments.

By also mentoring some of the younger defensemen on the team, he lent a hand in preparing the next generation of defenders for the Leafs.