Who will be back next year? – The defense/goalies

With the Leafs season now over, we look ahead to the draft and free agency as the big events left on the Leafs schedule for the 2018-19 season.

Now that the big three plus Tavares all have or will need their big contracts, the cap crunch is coming, and combine that with a disappointing playoff run, and suddenly, the Leafs might have a completely different roster come next season.

So, let’s look at the team from top to bottom, and figure out who will be back. I will throw people into one of four different categories: Will be back, probably coming back, might be back, and likely gone. Today, I’ll be looking at the blueline and the crease, and only the ones that played for the Leafs this season.

Morgan Rielly

Status: Will be back

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He had a Norris-calibre season, and has three years left on an amazing deal. With him being one of the few bright spots on the blueline, locked up for a while, and a big part of the team, on and off the ice, he’s definitely sticking around.

Nikita Zaitsev

Status: Might be back

I’m sure if Kyle Dubas had full power to get rid of him, he probably would. But, Zaitsev still has five years left on a $4.5 million contract, so we can’t exactly say that he’s for sure going to be gone. But he was shopped at the deadline, so Dubas will certainly try.

Jake Gardiner

Status: Likely gone

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You really don’t want to see it, especially after all he’s been through with the team, and his Game 7 performance will finish his time as a Leaf on a sour note, but with the cap crunch coming, and Zaitsev’s contract probably taking up a good chunk of the space that was dedicated to him, it’d be hard to see him come back.

Jake Muzzin

Status:  Will be back

He has one more year left on his contract, and I doubt Dubas would trade the assets that he did just to deal him in the offseason. There’s no telling if the Leafs will have room after this year, but he’s for sure going to be back at training camp.

Ron Hainsey

Status: Might be back

Some people have tossed around that he could come back on a performance bonus based deal, but honestly, I feel like Dubas will make some kind of power move with Babcock, and keep getting rid of his toys like Polak, Martin, and Komarov last year.

Igor Ozhiganov

Status: Won’t be back

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I created a new category for this one occasion. He’s already signed in Europe, so he won’t be back for sure.

Travis Dermott

Status: Will be back

With one year left on his ELC, and a chance to finally step into a top four role, he’s definitely sticking around for next season.

Martin Marincin

Status: Might be back

Honestly, I’m not too sure about this one. I know Dubas likes him, but Babcock has shown that he won’t play him much, so it’s likely that he might not be back. But I could see them bringing him back if he signs for under $1 million. Or he could sign in Europe, this one is really unpredictable.

Justin Holl

Status: Will be back

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He’s got one more year at $675,000. Like Petan and Moore, it’s that kind of cheap depth that we’ll need, especially as a right shot defenseman. He didn’t get much playing time, but maybe that changes this year.

Calle Rosen

Status: Will be back

Two years, $750,000. Cheap depth, he’ll be back. If it sounds familiar, that’s because it should be. Welcome to the cap crunch.

Frederik Andersen

Status: Will be back

Like they’d actually get rid of Freddie, he basically was the team this year.

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Garret Sparks

Status: Might be back

The Leafs shot their shot with him this year, and it ended up being more of a Vince Carter vs. Philly shot than a Kawhi Leonard vs. Philly shot. He was extended for another year though, so cheap depth might mean he sticks around, but his performance this year left much to be desired, so they might send him down or trade him.

Michael Hutchinson

Status: Might be back

When Sparks wasn’t cutting it, they turned to Hutch, so maybe that might be what they do next year. But, he’s also a UFA, so whose to say that he ends up being in the Leafs plans next year.

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  • Matmarwill

    Here’s Leafs defense next season barring any trades:

    Muzzin + Zaitsev
    Reilly + Dermott
    Rosen/Sandin + Liljegren

    Sandin will start the season in the ahl but is recalled when Rosen inevitably gets injured.