3 free agent defencemen the Maple Leafs should have on their radar

Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
9 months ago
The NHL’s free agency period has slowed down a tremendous amount, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any talent left on the open market. The Toronto Maple Leafs are likely interested in adding at least one more defenceman before the start of training camp and if that doesn’t come via trade, look for general manager (GM) Brad Treliving to try and ink another free agent this summer.
While the likes of Dmitry Orlov and Scott Mayfield are off the board already, here are a few blueliners who could wind up wearing blue and white this fall:

Matt Dumba – RHD

Dumba is the best defenceman available and it would take some creative financial work for the Leafs GM to make fit everyone in. Moving TJ Brodie could be an option as a Matt Murray buy out and moving Jake Muzzin to LTIR likely wouldn’t be enough. Is Dumba worth losing Brodie over? It all depends on what the final six defencemen look like come training camp.
Dumba is coming off a fine season in Minnesota where he put up 14 points in 79 games. He threw 104 hits and blocked 116 shots, while playing over 21 minutes a game, including almost two minutes on the penalty kill. Dumba’s much more physical than Brodie, and would certainly be an upgrade in that department, which is something Treliving is looking to address before camp.
Adding the Wild’s blueliner would help offset losing Luke Schenn. With Timothy Liljegren and John Klingberg already pencilled into the lineup next season, adding Dumba would be a nice way to round out the right side.
At soon-to-be 29 years old, Dumba is on the good side of 30 and still has lots left in the tank. He’d be a nice upgrade in Toronto and would give the Maple Leafs some more stability from the right side of the blue line. It also helps balance out the righties and lefties, which would make Mike Babcock proud.

Cal Foote – RHD

Foote is an interesting late-signing candidate as the former first-round pick was recently traded to the Nashville Predators and they basically gave up on his after 24 games in 2022-23. Did the Preds see something they didn’t like? Perhaps, but that doesn’t mean Treliving shouldn’t be interested here.
Foote would come to Toronto on the cheap and battle it out for a bottom-pair spot. It would be a good way to ensure Connor Timmins knows he’s going to have to really impress at training camp to win a spot on the team next season.
Foote finished last season with seven points in 50 combined games between the Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning. He played a ton of minutes shorthanded in Nashville and displayed his willingness to use his body, blocking 32 shots in the process. He’s the type of reclamation project that makes a ton of sense for Treliving to consider.
Nashville has cut Foote loose and Treliving should see if he’s ready to tango with the Maple Leafs.

Travis Dermott- LHD

A familiar face to Leafs Nation, Dermott was let go by the Vancouver Canucks and you can now say the Maple Leafs won the trade. At 26 years old, there’s still time for Dermott to find his game at the NHL level and Treliving should take a long look at brining back the Newmarket, ON native to the organization.
Would a two-way two-year deal make sense for both sides? Give Dermott a chance to play major minutes in the AHL and be ready when his number is called for the big club. Would the ex-Leaf be interested in this? Hard to say at this point but it doesn’t sound like the contract offers are flying through his windows anytime soon.
Dermott is a smooth skater who unfortunately makes some bonehead plays throughout the course of the game. He’s a bit risky, he likes to creep in on the offense when he can, and unfortunately for him, he’s a touch undersized at just 6-foot. If Toronto could work with him to use his skating to his advantage, while becoming smarter with and without the puck, there could be a future for Dermott and the Leafs organization.
The Maple Leafs were busy to start free agency this summer and for now, the talks have quieted. The trade route is much likelier at this point from Toronto’s GM, but regardless, if Treliving ends up adding another defenceman, one of these three should be considered.

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