The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Sign This UFA From Their Division Rival

The Leafs have the opportunity to overhaul their defense this offseason. Signing these two potential unrestricted free agents could balance their pairings and help at both ends of the ice.
Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers
Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers / Joel Auerbach/GettyImages

This coming offseason presents a golden opportunity for the Toronto Maple Leafs to overhaul their defense. Only three defensemen who played during the postseason are signed for next season.

Despite the team's defensive success in the playoffs, the Leafs defense was considered their biggest weakness this past season.

Getting star forwards Auston Matthews and William Nylander signed to long-term extensions was the best piece of business that new general manager Brad Treliving completed during his first year on the job.

His second offseason with the team should be spent upgrading the Leafs defense and goaltending. There are two potential free agents that, if available come July 1st, he should speed-dial to offer them a contract.

Signing one in particular would help the Leafs and sting a division rival.

The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Sign This UFA From Their Division Rival

The Maple Leafs have had two huge weaknesses on their defense over the past few years. One, they have an imbalance of right-handed versus left-handed defensemen. Too many left-shot defensemen have had to play on their non-dominant side.

Secondly, the Leafs power play has been nonexistent in the postseason, and easy for their opponents to shut down. A big part of that is not having a legitimate shot from the point to threaten the opposition.

Signing Brandon Montour from the Florida Panthers would accomplish both.

Montour would fill a need for a top-4 defenseman and he is a right-handed shot. He can adeptly handle the puck and help move it out of the defensive zone.

His skills would better complement the Leafs stars up front and alleviate some of the pressure from Morgan Rielly.

Montour's offensive abilities could also help out on the power play. He does not score many goals with the man advantage, but his shot is a bigger threat than Rielly's. Plus, he can distribute the puck and provide a different look on the top power-play unit.

Tanev Would Help the Leafs Penalty-Killing

The second UFA defenseman Treliving should target is his former player from the Calgary Flames. It was thought the Leafs were targeting Chris Tanev during last season's NHL trade deadline. Ultimately, the cost proved too high for a rental.

Now, the Leafs can acquire Tanev without giving up an asset. He would provide another right-handed shot on the blue line and deliver defensive help. He can block shots and help kill penalties.

By adding Montour and Tanev the Leafs new defense pairings would look like this: Rielly-Tanev, Jake McCabe-Montour as your top-4, with potentially Simon Benoit, Timothy Lijegren (should the Leafs choose to sign the restricted free agent), Conor Timmins, or a bottom-pair UFA would fill the last spot.

The Toronto Maple Leafs should not use their available cap space at forward. It might mean saying goodbye to Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi. That's okay since the Leafs best prospects play up front.


The Leafs should do everything they can to get these two defensemen under contract.