11 low-cost UFAs for the Maple Leafs to consider signing during the 2023 offseason
Photo credit:© Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney3 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be going bargain shopping at some point this summer. General manager Brad Treliving will be active during free agency, but I would expect a few low-cost signings over a big splash like Patrick Kane or Vladimir Tarasenko.
Treliving needs to secure some depth for the Leafs and he’d like his team to become tougher to play against while also adding more team speed. In no particular order, here are 11 low-cost free agents who the Maple Leafs should consider signing:
If Noel Acciari signs elsewhere, the Maple Leafs should consider adding Luke Glendenning for fourth-line duties. He wins close to 60% of his faceoffs, and while he provides limited offensive game, the Dallas Stars were the third-best penalty-killing team in the league and Glendenning was a big part of that. His physicality and willingness to muck it up in the dirty areas of the ice are admirable traits. The 34-year-old finished with 114 hits in 70 games last season.
The Maple Leafs are in the market for versatile forwards and Sheary is someone who fits the bill. 15 goals and 37 points in all 82 games as a Washington Capital, this is a player Treliving should be targeting. He’s capable of playing in all situations and has two Stanley Cup rings to his name. While he’s not as rough around the edges as Michael Bunting, if Bunting prices himself out of town, which seems to be the narrative to this point, Sheary is someone who comes in at less. An interesting depth option to say the least.
Heinen spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and always had to battle for ice time. He’s shown he has 20-goal potential and if he’s going to fit on the Maple Leafs, he’ll need to prove he can be physical enough to play a checking role.
Last season was a tough year for Heinen as he managed 22 points in 65 games. His versatility of playing either wing is appealing and should be to Treliving and the Maple Leafs. Alexander Kerfoot is likely on his way out and Heinen could help replace some of his minutes.
While he may be considered pricey for this group, Mayfield is a defenseman who has been linked to the Maple Leafs in the past and should find himself on Treliving’s radar.
Known mostly for his defensive game which included 168 blocked shots and 107 hits in 2022-23 with the New York Islanders, Mayfield enjoyed a career high 24-point season. There’s going to be heavy interest in his services this summer, I’m curious to see if the Leafs kick tires. He’d help bolster the penalty kill.
Talk about durable, Eller played a total of 84 games last season between the Washington Capitals and Colorado Avalanche. The Avs were desperate for help down the middle and acquired Eller, unfortunately for everyone involved it didn’t work out as planned. The 34-year-old center is a veteran who could provide some bottom-six depth in Toronto. He’s likely in line for a one-year deal at league minimum next season.
The Maple Leafs have a number of players from Sweden, perhaps another is on the way. Hagg spent last season with the Detroit Red Wings and collected seven points. He’s a defensive-defenseman who loves to throw his weight around, registering 111 hits in 2022-23, despite only playing 38 games. He’ll cost less than $1 million and should be a depth option for the Maple Leafs.
A reunion in Toronto? I personally would strongly consider it, as Brown is coming off an injury and will be a perfect low-risk high-reward type of signing this summer. He’s a workhorse who can play a pivotal checking role and easily move up into the top-six should an injury occur. They’ll be a number of contenders who will be interested so who knows about what the average annual value will end up being. For Brown, it will come down to opportunity. And he could have a good with one with the Maple Leafs next season.
If Kampf, Acciari or O’Reilly don’t return to Toronto, there’s going to be a giant hole down the middle of the Maple Leafs bottom six. The 35-year-old Bonino isn’t suited to play third-line minutes anymore, but he’s very capable of helping anchor a fourth line. Last season he finished with the Penguins, and ended the year with 19 points in 62 games. He played great at the World Championships, which likely caught the attention of several teams including the Leafs.
Perry makes my list just based on the fact the Maple Leafs will need more of his style of play in their lineup next season. He’ll likely sign for $1 million or so and Treliving can afford that for a fourth-line winger who can chip in offensively.
The bottom six of the lineup is going to look much different in Toronto next season and adding Perry would be something many of Leafs Nation would need to get used to. I’m on the side – he doesn’t cost a ton, has a resume that speaks for itself and knows how to win. Perry may not skate like a first-line winger, but he thinks like one. He’s on my team any day of the week.
As we heard on Leafs Morning Take with Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill last week, joining an original six team in Toronto is not out of the question for Lucic. Treliving loved having him in the lineup in Calgary as he’s one of the most intimidating players in the league, if not the most. The Maple Leafs need to become tougher to play against, so it checks that box and the way Lucic spoke about the potential of it happening and his relationships with Mark Giordano and Jake Muzzin, you could tell it’s something he’d strongly consider. I’m all for it, let’s just hope another contender doesn’t offer a more lucrative deal.
The ‘cheap’ free-agent market for goaltenders is an interesting mix and Gillies name stood out for me. With some size at 6-foot-5 and someone Treliving knows very well from their days together in Calgary, if the Leafs do add some depth to their crease, Gillies is a prime candidate. Joseph Woll and Ilya Samsonov appear to be next season’s tandem as Matt Murray is likely getting dealt or bought out. Toronto’s in pretty good shape when it comes to their crease, however goaltending is like pitching in baseball, you can never have enough.
The Stanley Cup has been handed out and now all the focus is on the 2023-24 season. The Leafs are an interesting team to watch with Treliving at the helm. He likes a tough team who work hard and have a strong defense. The Maple Leafs need another top-four defenseman and another top-six winger, but unfortunately may not have the resources for both. Adding some low-cost depth will be key and this group of 11 should make Treliving’s whiteboard.
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