5 Maple Leafs who should be offered a contract extension: The Countdown

Photo credit:Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
29 days ago
Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brad Treliving has been busy of late, re-signing forward Bobby McMann to a two-year contract extension. It was a great moment for the 27-year-old winger who hasn’t taken the easiest path to becoming an NHL regular. While Treliving’s already handed out massive extensions to Auston Matthews and William Nylander earlier in the year, there are still plenty of questions left unanswered at the moment.
The Maple Leafs, according to CapFriendly, have a projected $20.5 million in cap space heading into the 2024-25 season. With several pending unrestricted free agents to consider bringing back, here are five Maple Leafs who are worthy of at least an extension offer before July 1, when free agency begins:

Ilya Samsonov

Let’s not forget last season, Ilya Samsonov set career highs in just about every major goaltending category. This season hasn’t been rainbows and butterflies for the Russian netminder, but he’s found a way to work himself through the grind and land back on his feet. Resilience is a great attribute for a netminder and so is a short memory.
Samsonov has posted an 18-5-7 record on the season, which is rather impressive, however his save percentage remains one of the worst in the league for eligible goaltenders at .889. Joseph Woll is signed for next season at under $800,000 so there’s no need to overpay here. There’s also Denis Hildeby who is knocking at the door. Treliving should offer Samsonov a three-year extension, nothing more, and somewhere around $4.5 million per season. The free-agent market is ultra-thin this upcoming summer as Samsonov is currently second in wins for pending UFA’s behind 37-year-old Cam Talbot. Would bringing in a veteran like Talbot on a one-year deal to bridge the gap for a Woll/Hildeby tandem make more sense than locking up Samsonov? There could certainly be a case made for that, but talk to me after the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If Samsonov wins a playoff round this season, to me, he’s done enough to warrant a return.

Tyler Bertuzzi

Bertuzzi knew the transition to Toronto was going to be tough, and early on it certainly had its moments. But the pesky winger has been solid the second half of this season and has come on strong as a consistent secondary scoring option for the Maple Leafs.
He has 31 points in 65 games so far as a Leaf, and it will be fun to watch what he gets himself into come playoff time. He showed with the Bruins last postseason that he can elevate his game when it matters most and the Maple Leafs are going to need every ounce of it.
Bertuzzi’s on the books for $5.5 million this season and that feels like a sound number moving forward that could make sense for both sides. Alex Killorn signed a four-year deal with the Ducks at $6.25 million AAV last summer, has 130 more Stanley Cup Playoff games under his belt and had just scored 27 goals and 64 points at the time of the extension. Bertuzzi is likely to finish this season with 40-45 points, so his annual salary shouldn’t be creeping north of what he’s currently pulling in.
This is going to come down to how much he’s enjoyed his time in the media circus of Toronto and how exactly the playoffs shape up. If Bertuzzi wants to stay, Treliving should work out an extension to keep the Sudbury, ON native in the mix.

Max Domi

Another one of Treliving’s first moves with the Leafs, Max Domi, like Bertuzzi, has had his moments and of late, has been showing off his versatility. Domi’s ability to play all over the lineup is a nice tool in the box for Sheldon Keefe.
Everyone would love him to shoot the puck more, that’s a given, but Domi’s ability to facilitate and as mentioned, play down the middle or on the wing is a nice compliment to the lineup. He loves being a Leaf so this could be an extension where the term comes in longer than expected, however with a lower AAV than what he’d be able to land on the open market. Domi’s recorded 35 points in 66 games so far this season and has shown in the past he’s capable of hitting 70 points.
With 22 points in 43 playoff games, everyone is hopeful he’ll be peaking at the right time this spring and bring his A game for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Domi has the passion, he’s a character guy in the room. He battled some defensive demons early on this season but has shown the ability to listen to the coaching staff, move his feet more, and stop playing on the wrong side of the puck so often. Treliving should offer Domi close to what he’s making now, and if that’s enough to keep the son of Tie a Maple Leaf, perfect. If he’s looking for more money, he may have to look elsewhere.

Ilya Lyubushkin

The Maple Leafs needed Lyubushkin before they acquired him and they need him to stick around moving forward. He’s nothing flashy, he’s not going to cost a ton to re-sign but he’s a very important defenceman for the team because of the sandpaper he brings to the ice every night.
Lyubushkin’s shown in his seven games since returning to Toronto that if he can keep his game simple, hit everything that moves, and be willing to sacrifice his body in front of the net, he can be a wonderful compliment to Morgan Rielly. At 29 years old, he’s at the perfect age to warrant a three-year contract extension offer from Treliving and lock him in for this window the Leafs are currently working under with their core players. Considering his playing style, going longer than a three-year extension could be very risky.
Lyubushkin loves Toronto, he’s very close with Samsonov, and perhaps it will be a nice story to see both Russians re-sign this summer. At this point, Lyubushkin’s done everything he’s been asked and hopefully, that can carry on into the playoffs. Barring a postseason disaster, Treliving should be offering Boosh a new deal.

Joel Edmundson

Speaking of the Leafs’ blueline, Edmundson should be offered a contract extension to stick around with the Maple Leafs, meanwhile, TJ Brodie should not.
The Leafs have Simon Benoit and Timothy Liljegren as restricted free agents this summer and both are likely to be back. Jake McCabe has another year at just $2 million, so he shouldn’t be going anywhere. Rielly is locked in. Edmundson should be considered for next season. He’s 30 years old, has a ton of experience, knows his strengths, has won a Cup and does all the little things to help a team win.
Edmundson’s impact does need to come in the form of shutting down opponents but his penalty kill experience is equally as important. This will be something to watch down the stretch and into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Leafs need this perhaps more than anything else at the moment because if you can’t kill off a penalty in the playoffs, they’re doomed. The Panthers and Bruins both have top-10 PP units, meanwhile, the Lightning are first and both the Hurricanes and Rangers are also in the top-10. All teams the Leafs will need to get through this spring.
Edmundson at $3-3.5 million AAV would be the ideal price, so it will be curious to see if the veteran blueliner enjoys his time enough these next few weeks to warrant a return. Treliving should have interest as he’s looking to secure some more size on the back end moving forward for the Maple Leafs. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of the relationship for these two.
The Leafs have five UFAs who could be sticking around Toronto for the foreseeable future. There’s certainly nothing set in stone at this point, but if this team is able to have some playoff success this spring, look for each one of the five mentioned to be offered an extension before free agency opens.

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