4 veteran free agents the Maple Leafs should consider signing this offseason
Photo credit:Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney2 months ago
Brad Treliving won’t be able to land everyone on his wish list so it will be important for the Toronto Maple Leafs general manager to get creative to round out his roster for next season. The trade winds are swirling pretty hard across the NHL and while the Leafs will likely complete a deal or two this offseason, let’s zone in on the free-agent market.
More specifically, there are a number of free agents that have been around the block who Treliving and the Leafs need to kick tires on. These four veteran forwards should be on Toronto’s radar this offseason:
If ‘captain serious’ Jonathan Toews is indeed committed to playing hockey next season, the Maple Leafs should inquire. Word is he’s likely staying out in western Canada, but if he’s considering a move east, Treliving should be in contact with Toews to see what kind of contract he’s looking for.
The Maple Leafs have limited options down the middle at the moment and adding a future hall-of-famer would not hurt the team’s bottom six at all. Toews could come in, help form a new shut-down line and be an effective piece for both the penalty kill and second power-play units.
While he’s battled some health scares of late, the Chicago Blackhawks legend can still get it done. Toews recorded 31 points in 53 games last season, and would give the Maple Leafs a bit of a security blanket down the middle. He’s one of the best in the faceoff circle and would likely cost somewhere around $3 million next season. Treliving doesn’t have a truckload of cap space so it’s going to be important for the Leafs GM to be resourceful with his funds. Adding Toews on a cheap one or two-year deal could be a great start.
If it was for a top-six role, it’s likely a pass from the Maple Leafs brass, but if it’s strictly for a bottom-six role, this is a player who should be strongly considered. Toews is arguably the most decorated of any free agent in 2023 and his competitive spirit and leadership qualities are unmatched. Adding him to the Maple Leafs’ dressing room wouldn’t hurt, even if Ryan O’Reilly does come back. They say strength down the middle is so important. Can you imagine a centre depth chart consisting of Auston Matthews and John Tavares along with O’Reilly and Toews?
Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravalli recently commented on Max Pacioretty and confirmed there’s been a ton of interest in signing him league wide. Treliving needs to be among the conversations and consider signing the veteran winger to play on the left side of the Leafs’ second line.
Pacioretty has dealt with some devastating injuries by tearing his Achilles twice in the exact same spot. He’s looking to bounce back in a major way in 2023-24. At 34, turning 35 years old at the beginning of next season, it’s now or never for the veteran forward who looks to continue his playing career. You can’t deny the fact he’s one of the best goal scorers when healthy and if the lower-leg troubles are behind him, this is the type of gamble the Maple Leafs’ need to consider.
Adding a healthy Pacioretty to Toronto’s top six could do wonders. It gives them some secondary scoring and another smart veteran to add to the group who knows what it takes to win. He’s been around the block and in 855 career NHL games, the former Montreal Canadiens first-round pick has recorded 645 points.
Like most teams in a hard salary-cap era, money is the issue here for the Maple Leafs. Because of the uncertainty and the fact he hasn’t played a full season in eight years, Treliving can’t give Pacioretty anything north of $2-3 million. It’s likely another team swoops in with more cash, but if it’s opportunity and a chance to win the Stanley Cup that ‘Patches’ is looking for, perhaps contract talks could advance with the Leafs.
The connection is there, the need is there, now we wait to see if the contract offer comes next. Treliving and Milan Lucic have history, and this could work in favour of the Maple Leafs this summer.
Lucic is still one of the most intimidating players in the entire NHL and would be a great addition for Toronto’s fourth line. Last season he appeared in 77 games and chipped in with 19 points. For one million or under, this would be great value for Treliving to consider.
Lucic was a guest recently on Leafs Morning Take with Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill and the vibe was he’d certainly consider the Maple Leafs this summer. With the Calgary Flames walking away, he’ll definitely be wearing new threads next season. Keep an eye on the Vancouver Canucks and Anaheim Ducks who will also be interested in the veteran enforcer.
Treliving is going to have a few Toronto Marlies who will throw their hats in the ring for some of the bottom six spots which will be up for grabs coming training camp. The likes of Pontus Holmberg and Bobby McMann will be in the mix, but regardless, the Leafs GM will need to sprinkle in some veterans and more important some with jam. Lucic can still be effective and most importantly could be cost-effective. Another veteran free agent for the Leafs to consider signing once the calendar hits July.
If Noel Acciari walks in free agency, the Maple Leafs could circle in on veteran centre Luke Glendenning. The 34-year-old centre spent last season with the Dallas Stars and while he doesn’t do much offensively, (six points in 70 games in 22-23) Glendenning’s defensive game could do wonders in Toronto.
A fourth-line option and nothing more, Treliving will need to find cheap help for the bottom six and this is a player to ponder. Glendenning wins close to 60% of his faceoffs, enjoys the shut-down role, and is a very effective penalty killer, spending more than two minutes a game on the Stars’ penalty-killing unit last season.
A contract offer here is likely one-year at league minimum and if there are a couple of other teams interested it go up to close to $1 million. The Maple Leafs should balk at any price over $900,000.
Glendenning is a warrior, he battles each and every game and he could be a great fit in Toronto. In 2022-23 he landed 114 hits and used his body 60 times to block shots. Foot speed isn’t his strongest suit, but he’s smart enough to read plays and get himself in proper positioning on the ice. He’s a vet through and through and would be a great addition to the Maple Leafs’ dressing room.
Treliving isn’t expected to make a major splash on the free-agent market this summer. The Leafs GM will take swings at keeping some of his pending free agents and then once the chips fall, he’ll have a good idea of where the holes will lie on next season’s roster. There’s no doubt the Maple Leafs will need to add some cheap veteran talent up front this summer, these four forwards need to be on Treliving’s radar.
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