Training camp is a great opportunity for NHL teams to take a look at some remaining free agents and the Toronto Maple Leafs are no exception.
The Toronto Maple Leafs could certainly look to make some adjustments to their team, particularly on defence, and one player could be worth giving a Professional Try-Out (PTO) to.
Michael Stone is a right-handed defenceman who was selected in the third round (69th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft by the then-named Phoenix Coyotes.
In 324 regular-season games with the Coyotes, Stone developed into a reliable, physical defenceman that was able to contribute somewhat on offence – registering 96 points (24 goals, 72 assists).
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In his six years in the desert, Stone blocked an astonishing 630 shots and threw a further 695 hits, putting his 6-foot-3, 210lbs frame to good use.
On February 20th 2017, Stone found himself sent north of the border to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2017 third-round pick and conditional 2018 fifth-rounder.
After a decent 19-game run in the regular season, the Flames re-signed Stone to a three-year contract paying him an AAV of $3.5 million – ensuring the Coyotes received the 2018 fifth-round pick.
Stone played in all 82 games in the 2017/18 season, cementing his position on the bottom pairing though seeing his offensive opportunities greatly reduced.
The 2018/19 season wasn’t so kind to the older brother of Mark Stone, seeing him suffer an injury that limited him to just 14 regular-season appearances – with Stone actually on pace for 29 points had he played in a full 82-game season.
With the Flames desperate to clear some cap space, the veteran right-handed blueliner found himself bought out, entering unrestricted free agency.
To date, the market on Stone has been minimal and the Toronto Maple Leafs could potentially benefit from this if they believe he could compete for a spot on their blueline.
Right now, Jordan Schmaltz is pencilled in as the team’s bottom pairing right-handed defenceman, but there’s very little evidence that the former St. Louis Blues player would out-right be a better option than someone such as Stone.
Offering Stone a PTO ahead of training camp would give the team an opportunity to consider whether or not he could have a positive impact with the team while giving Stone an opportunity to impress and prove that he is healthy enough to compete in the NHL this season.
If Stone shows he can be a steady, reliable bottom pair player, potentially having some usage on the penalty kill, then the Toronto Maple Leafs can offer him a cheap one-year deal.
The team could potentially parlay that one-year deal into something longer down the road, or look at moving Stone at the deadline if he impresses enough during the regular season.
If Stone isn’t up to scratch and can’t push his way into the team’s top six defencemen, then the Leafs can simply walk away.
What do you think though Leafs fans? Would you like to see the team take a look at what Michael Stone still has to offer? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!