Toronto Maple Leafs: Qualifying offers and restricted free agency

Jeremy Bracco #27 of the Toronto Marlies takes a shot against the Laval Rocket. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Jeremy Bracco #27 of the Toronto Marlies takes a shot against the Laval Rocket. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are into the offseason with a lot of questions and a number of cornerstone players to build around.

After the Toronto Maple Leafs were bounced from the NHL’s qualifying round by the Columbus Blue Jackets, Leafs Nation called for changes big and small.

So far, this has yielded a trade of Kasperi Kapanen to the Pittsburgh Penguins and a 2020 Draft class led by first-round pick Rodion Amirov.

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What else does general manager Kyle Dubas have up his sleeve to put the Leafs in a better position for next season?  We take a look at what the Leafs have done with their own free agents heading into the start of unrestricted free agency on Friday.

The team has to balance the cries to win now with the patient structure that they have been preaching since Dubas took over.  There is a lot to like on the roster but some definite holes to be filled in the coming weeks and months.

Some in-house decisions made

The Toronto Maple Leafs had until 5 PM ET Wednesday to extend qualifying offers to restricted free agents.  As expected, they qualified Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott.

Meanwhile, the team did not extend qualifying offers to Jeremy Bracco, Frederik Gauthier, Evan Rodrigues or Max Veronneau.  All of whom now become unrestricted free agents, eligible to sign wherever they would like Friday at Noon ET.

This was largely expected for the Leafs, as Mikheyev and Dermott were both strong depth players for the team last year.  The other RFA’s were underwhelming and for a team tight against the cap, did not make sense to qualify.

Now Dubas has to turn his sights on signing Dermott and Mikheyev at a number that is not only agreeable to both sides, but that will also keep the Leafs under the cap.

As of writing, the Maple Leafs had 19 players on the roster and slightly more than $5.4 million in cap space.  Assuming a couple more spots go to younger players on entry-level deals, the Leafs would have around $3.5-3.7 million to re-sign their two qualified free agents.

You have to think this means more changes are coming.  It is possible to get under the cap that way but the roster would be the same as last year basically, minus Kapanen.  I’m not even sure that is enough to entice Mikheyev and Dermott, both due raises from last season.

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Will the Maple Leafs make some more trades to shed cap space?  If so, do they target some help on the unrestricted free agency market?  Let us know in the comments below!