Toronto Maple Leafs: Early look at 5 free agent defenceman targets

Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues battles against Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues battles against Kasperi Kapanen #24 of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /
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Toronto Maple Leafs
Alex Pietrangelo #27 of the St. Louis Blues. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images) /

Alex Pietrangelo

There is no defenceman in this year’s free agency class that brings everything the Toronto Maple Leafs need more than what Pietrangelo does, which is why he is at the top of the list.

Starting with the fact that he is a right shot, the 30-year-old is a workhorse true number one defenceman that this team needs. Before the NHL put its season on pause, Pietrangelo was well on his way to establishing his best offensive season with a career-high 16 goals and three points off from setting a new career-best in points.

It’s quite puzzling that the St. Louis Blues are in a position where it seems unlikely Pietrangelo will return considering the recent signings they have made. Not only does Pietrangelo rank at the top of the list in time on ice including the power play, but he also plays on the power play and in almost every situation.

What is probably the complicated part for the Blues and an obvious issue for the Leafs in their pursuit for Pietrangelo is that he sounds like a luxury most teams won’t be able to afford. This is why most believe St. Louis is preparing to lose their captain and hoping that Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk can take on some of his workload.

When it comes to determining a value for the King City, Ont., native, some believe that Roman Josi‘s eight-year deal at $9.059 million is a comparable contract. Considering how tight the Leafs salary cap situation is, can they actually make that salary work?

Let’s say the price is at $9 million a season, the Leafs would have to find the savings, which won’t be easy unless Kyle Dubas is willing to part with one of the team’s big contracts. It’s unlikely to see Auston Matthews or Tavares going anywhere since they would be tough to replace and moving William Nylander wouldn’t even be enough.

While trading Mitch Marner would free up the necessary space, the Leafs wouldn’t exactly be in favour of this move for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, they probably won’t get the value in return considering they would be looking to add prospects and picks and secondly, the Leafs would also have to find a way to replace Marner’s production in the lineup.

This is why it might not be the most feasible plan to go after Pietrangelo unless the Leafs are willing to make some serious changes. At the same time, just because he grew up near Toronto it doesn’t mean he wants to play for the Leafs.

Instead, let’s look at other options the team can consider.