The draft was expected to be over and we’ve now overlapped with the restricted free agent qualifying offer cut off. And the Leafs have opted not to qualify for of their players.
TOR does not qualify Bracco, Gauthier, Rodrigues or Veronneau
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 7, 2020
First off this means that both Ilya Mikheyev and Travis Dermott are qualified as Michael Mazzei covered this morning…
Secondly, this means that the Leafs weren’t able to find middle ground with Evan Rodrigues on how much of a pay cut is fair from the $2M he would have qualified at. The Leafs will still have the exclusive negotiating rights with him until Friday at noon, and something could be worked out, but in reality he’ll test free agency before possibly reconnecting with Dubas about his best offer.
This also potentially ends the Freddie Gauthier era, or in reality it does end The Goat era since if the Leafs didn’t feel like qualifying him at the league minimum, they probably don’t have any interesting in continuing their working relationship. Gauthier had a great attitude, and was a beloved teammate, but it was rare to get much of value from him on the ice. He was fine as a placeholder on the fourth line, but for a 6’6 forward not to use his size, he was a source of frustration for many.
As for Jeremy Bracco, well, sometimes 2nd round picks don’t pan out, and being a serviceable AHL player will only take you so far. It’s entirely possible that there’s a team that will take a chance on him and see what he can do, but it’s clear the Leafs were never going to get what they wanted out of him, and parting ways now seems only fair.
Max Veronneau was acquired this season from the Senators and got in a few games for the Marlies. Again he seems to be a serviceable AHLer but the decision to move on from him, and instead explore what else the Leafs can do during this very uncertain offseason seems to make a ton of sense.
The real intrigue will come when have a chance to take a look at who the other teams have decided not to qualify, and how the free agent market expands.
Already we know this…
The Canucks will not qualify Troy Stecher.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) October 7, 2020
A right handed defenseman who has played for Dave Hakstol is a player worth keeping an eye on in the coming days. He will be a little bit cheaper than some of the other options out there, and could be a fit for the Leafs.
Plenty more to come on this in the coming days.