Toronto Maple Leafs: Finding value with free agent defencemen will be tough
On the backend, there aren’t many names that stick out as flashy names but that’s not what Toronto needs at this stage.
This blue line could use more size and penalty killing ability which is why depth options like Ian Cole, Luke Schenn (can’t ignore the nostalgic connection), Tucker Poolman, Jason Demers, Travis Hamonic and Mark Pysyk are going to come up.
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Both Rasmus Sandin and Timothy should get their chance to earn a spot in training camp and could provide the Leafs with the boost they need in terms of game-breakers on defence. This is what they were drafted and are hitting the timeline to break through at the NHL level.
It’s not going to be easy to replace what Zach Bogosian brought especially on the penalty kill but he provides the template that this team needs to find in free agency. It would be nice if a player like that was in the system as it would allow the Leafs to focus on other areas.
Again, the issue will be the cost to acquire a defenceman that can bring all of those elements the team needs. This is why Dubas said Justin Holl was too valuable to lose in the expansion given all he does at just $2 million on the cap.
This could also be another avenue the Leafs explore the trade market and consider moving a forward with a less than ideal cap hit in order to create the space needed.
Dubas has decided to put his faith in this core to get the job done but if he doesn’t support them in the way he knows he needs to, the hot seat might get too steaming for the Leafs GM.
What areas do the Leafs need to address in free agency and on the trade market before the start of training camp? Do you have an ideal target they should be looking at? Let us know in the comments below.