Toronto Maple Leafs: Veterans on expiring deals with something to prove this season

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15: James van Riemsdyk
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 15: James van Riemsdyk /

The Toronto Maple Leafs have a few players on expiring contracts who could bring out their best performances this season.

There’s nothing like a player that has something to prove. Sometimes you’ll see a prospect who desperately wants to make the team have an outstanding training camp. Other times, a player is on the final year of his contract and wants to get his own team to sign him, a playoff contending team to trade for them, or make an impression ahead of free agency. The Toronto Maple Leafs have some players on the roster this season who will do their best to make a final impression on the organization.

Besides the one-year deals signed in free agency, the Toronto Maple Leafs have seven expiring contracts on the main roster:

Leo Komarov

Uncle Leo has slowly become one of the fan favourites with Leafs nation. In his first season with the team back in the 2013 lockout shortened season, he was pretty underused by then coach Randy Carlyle. It was not until Mike Babcock’s arrival that the Estonian-native was able to play to his full potential.

He had a breakout season with Toronto during the 2015-2016 tank year with 19 goals and 17 assists. This past season Komarov found his role on the shutdown line alongside Nazem Kadri and Connor Brown.

Babcock often speaks highly of Komarov in scrums on his worth ethic and how loved he is by his teammates. Additionally, we can’t forget what GM Lou Lamoriello said about him at the 2016 Trade Deadline when he wasn’t traded.

There’s no reason why we should think this will be the end of Komarov. He’ll most likely stick with the team through the entire season, and re-up in the summer.

Tyler Bozak

It took some time, but Bozak is finally in a role that he can flourish in. The 30-year-old had a career high in points last season with 55 points. The future around Bozak however isn’t as clear as it is with Komarov.

There is value in any team adding Bozak to their roster. He may not be the perfect defensive player, but he is a great face-off guy and can play with skilled players. It’ll be in his best interest to be just as good or even better this season.

If Bozak plays just as well as he did this past season, there will probably be teams calling if the Leafs are looking for a center. Additionally, if he isn’t traded, there will be significant offers for him on July 1st. With that being said, it would be tough to expect Bozak going anywhere nor do I think the Leafs should get rid of him. Their lack of depth down the middle especially in the minors should be a big reason to keep the 31-year old around. Frederik Gauthier is probably not capable of playing a top-nine role and Adam Brooks is probably a couple of years away from the NHL.

Related Story: Trading Bozak Doesn't Make Any Sense

James van Riemsdyk

This is where things are going to be great for the Leafs this upcoming season. JVR has every reason to be the best player he can be this season.

The 28-year-old has been on one of the most team-friendly deals in the league for a number of years now. This season is JVR’s time to prove to other teams why he’s worth way more than that. It’s also an opportunity to prove to teams that are building a Stanley Cup contending team that he can be the final piece to the puzzle.

When JVR is on is game, he’s a force that can’t be stopped. It’s an issue for those stretches where he disappears and doesn’t do much. Leafs fans saw that from him and Bozak as well after Mitch Marner was out of the line-up for sometime.

That being said, there’s no reason why JVR cannot beat his career high in points which he had last season with 62. In the past the Middletown NJ., native had injury issues but he was able to suit up for all 82 last season. If he wants to stay with the Leafs moving forward it will be tough to expect him to get a significant raise on the $4.25-million cap hit considering the team needs to look at re-signing William Nylander then Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner the year after.

The Others

The other four players on expiring deals may be harder to track. Carrick had moderately disappointing season with the Leafs. It looks like he may be set to be on the bottom pairing this season, but it’s also possible that he’s not in the line-up at all. However, if he is given the opportunity to stay on the team for the entire season, he’ll have to a better season and prove that he’s worth keeping.

Fehr, Marincin, and Leivo may never play another game for the Leafs. There’s a stronger possibility for Leivo since he’s shown signs of being able to contribute at the NHL level. If he dials into the fact that this will be his last chance to prove that he can be a day in-day out NHL player, he should do well for himself. Perhaps even play to where teams start calling for him.

Marincin and Fehr will most likely either be waived or kept as extras all season. It would be in the team’s best interest to try to get rid of their contracts since there’s no realistic scenario where they would need to be extended.

It’ll be interesting to see how the players on these deals fair this season. Coming out with their best performances yet will be nothing but good for the buds.

Next: The Return of the Corrado Curse

How well do you think the players on expiring deals will be? Is JVR the only player you expect to leave after this season? Let us know your thoughts in the comments