The Toronto Maple Leafs Want 2 Top UFA Defensemen - Which 2 Should They Sign?

Toronto Maple Leafs Interested In Signing 2 UFA Defensemen In Free Agency
Toronto Maple Leafs Interested In Signing 2 UFA Defensemen In Free Agency / Claus Andersen/GettyImages
3 of 3

Sean Walker

Walker is a stat nerd's (like myself) dream defenseman.

Walker had an elite offensive season last year despite only tallying 29 points. He ranked among the top 10 percent of defensemen in offensive WAR, goals, scoring chances and rush offence. Walker also had some elite metrics on the defensive side, ranking in the top 25 percent of defencemen in defensive zone retrievals, retrieval success rate, zone entries, defensive zone exits, entry denial rate and entry chance prevention.

If the Maple Leafs were to sign both Pesce and Walker, I would see Walker playing on the second line alongside Jake McCabe. While McCabe was one of the few bright spots last year, he struggled to make plays after retrieving the puck in the defensive end and keeping plays alive in the offensive zone when the puck came to him.

In both areas, Walker's puck-moving abilities will benefit McCabe and the Maple Leafs. With Walker beside him, McCabe will be able to play more of a balanced game rather than carrying the offensive load of his pairing, which he had to do all last season and have much more support when retrieving pucks.

While I think Nikita Zadorov would also be an excellent option for this second pairing, he is the hottest name on the market right now after shutting down Connor McDavid in the playoffs.

Sean Walker is flying slightly under the radar regarding the top defencemen on the market, and the Maple Leafs may not have to get into a massive bidding war as they may have to with Zadorov. Before being traded to the Colorado Avalanche, it was reported that the Philadelphia Flyers wanted to bring Walker back for four million dollars.


Walker must have told the team that he would not entertain that price as he was dealt with at the deadline. While north of four million dollars is expensive for a guy whose career high in points is 29, he will be a slightly better option financially than a guy like Zadorov, who will get a bag this offseason.