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3 Maple Leafs who likely won’t be back next season

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
24 days ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have 12 games left on the 2023-24 schedule before they’ll face off against either the Boston Bruins or Florida Panthers in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. While certain players are currently auditioning for the playoff roster, there are also a number of Leafs who are auditioning for their long-term future in Toronto.
Last week I looked at some Leafs who I felt deserved a contract extension from GM Brad Treliving, for this segment, let’s zone in on a few players who are likely either dealt in the offseason or won’t be re-signed. Here are 3 Maple Leafs who I feel are the most likely not to return next season:

Nick Robertson

Robertson’s battled a lot throughout his five seasons with the Leafs organization including a slew of injuries, lack of opportunity and unfortunately his inconsistent play. There’s no denying he’s uber-talented offensively and has one of the best wrist shots on the team, however, the 22-year-old continues to be exposed on the defensive side of the puck and his lack of size and physicality are not working in his favour for a bottom-six role.
Robertson’s recorded a career high 21 points throughout 46 games this season, and at some point in his career, he’ll likely hit the 25-30 goal mark, however I don’t feel it’s going to be in Toronto. With Toronto’s big guns not going anywhere anytime soon, and with the likes of Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi likely being re-signed this offseason, Robertson’s not going to have the opportunity to play top-six minutes. The 5-foot-9, 178 pound California native is best suited playing on a second line in an offensive role and not being asked to be a checking forward on a team’s shut-down third line. One of the many reasons I feel Treliving is going to move him this offseason for a young defenceman.
While Robertson will be a restricted free agent this summer and his ‘cheap’ salary is something the Leafs cap situation could use more of, there’s prospects Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten on the way who will be both battling for a roster spot come September. Another reason why the Leafs can move on from Robertson and gain some more depth for the blue line.
Robertson’s going to be in tough to make the playoff roster this season once Mitch Marner and Calle Jarnkrok come back from injury. There’s certainly a chance he gets inserted if there’s an injury, but at this point, I’d expect the likes of Pontus Holmberg and Matthew Knies to be ahead of him on the postseason depth chart. Robertson’s agent has hinted to management in the past that a trade may be the best situation for everyone involved and look for one to come at some point this summer.

TJ Brodie

Brodie has been through a ton this season, on and off the ice and unfortunately for him, recently was made a healthy scratch for the first time as a Maple Leaf. With his contract ending after this season, expect to see Treliving move on from the veteran blueliner.
Brodie’s lost a step, and considering he’s not a physical presence, Treliving will likely look to add some more size and physicality for the Leafs blue line next season, much like we saw with the additions of Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson before the deadline. Whether either of these two defencemen are expected to re-sign, we don’t know, but I’d consider the odds of that higher than those of bringing Brodie back.
The Chatham, ON native will be 34 when next season begins and so far this season, has managed to record 18 assists and while he’s been asked to shut-down some of the league’s best players, unfortunately for him and the Maple Leafs’ coaching staff, he hasn’t been up to the task. Head coach Sheldon Keefe had this to say after he decided Brodie needed to be reset.
The Maple Leafs have roughly $20.5 million to work with in offseason cap space and Treliving’s going to need to spend wisely to maximize the talent for next season and beyond. I’d fully expect to see the Leafs GM, who once tried to trade Brodie from Calgary, emphasize trying to sign defensemen like Brett Pesce or Matt Dumba before turning his attention to bring back Brodie.

Noah Gregor

While Matt Murray and Martin Jones get honorable mentions, Noah Gregor cracks my top three. Gregor started strong this season, turning a tryout into a one-year deal, however the second half of the season has been a struggle and he’s in tough to even crack the playoff roster.
Gregor’s at his best when he’s using his speed and tenacity to create havoc on the forecheck, get some scoring chances off the rush and pushing back defenders with his speed, but unfortunately throughout times this season, he’s been called out by the coaching staff for making soft plays on the puck.
Gregor has 11 points in 59 games this season, however hasn’t scored since December 16th, a span of 31 games. Regardless if you’re on the fourth line in a checking role or not, you have to be contributing more than that. Gregor continues to lay some hits and if he’s somehow able to stay in the lineup, will need to be an effective penalty killer to have any shot at sticking in the lineup not only for the playoffs, but also looking forward to next season. At this point, even with him being a restricted free agent, it’s going to be tough for the 25-year-old to land a one-way deal from Treliving this summer.
Lots can change between now and whenever the playoffs end, but at this point, based on recent production and looking ahead to next season’s roster, it’s going to be tough for any of Robertson, Brodie or Gregor to stick around.

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