RUMOUR: Leafs interested in MacKenzie Weegar

We are still an hour and half away from all hell breaking loose and free agency opening up, but we have a new name (well not completely new) to add to the list of potential targets for the Leafs today.

Wow. MacKenzie Weegar has been an analytics favourite, as well as a Leafs twitter favourite for a while based on his strong defensive numbers, and the Leafs appear to looking hard at the 6’0 right shooting defenseman from the Panthers. Given the fact that Florida added Nutivaara last night, it seems reasonable that they were preparing to move out Weegar and backfilling him early.

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Weegar’s numbers are impressive:

He compares quite favourably to Jake Muzzin, and Weegar was regularly seeing top pairing minutes as the season ended for Florida last year.

October 13 3 6 9 11 29 10.3 20:36
November 5 0 1 1 4 5 0 18:14
December 10 0 2 2 7 12 0 19:01
February 13 2 2 4 9 19 10.5 20:20
March 4 2 0 2 2 12 16.7 22:58
via hockey-reference.com

He would certainly address a lot of concerns for the Leafs, and makes them tougher to play against, but isn’t a huge physical presence.

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The question is what would the Panthers want in return as the Leafs would likely wish to send some salary back. I’m sure Andreas Johnsson and Alex Kerfoot are the first names offered, but those players would have to be starting points with the Leafs needing to add to make the deal work.

Weegar is an arbitration eligible restricted free agent, who according to PuckPedia made $1.6M AAV on his last deal. He’s due for a big raise, but it remains to be seen how much. Evolving Hockey predicts he’ll cost around $3.8M AAV on a four year deal. That’s reasonable for the role the Leafs would put him in, and if they can send out either Kerfoot or Johnsson, the salary lines up nicely as well. Again, the Leafs would most likely need to add, though with the Panthers being short on forwards, it’s easy to see how Toronto could be a match for them.

This will be an important one to keep an eye on today. And it has the potential to go down even before free agency opens up, so hopefully we learn more soon.

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