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Free agents the Toronto Maple Leafs should contemplate

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Photo credit:Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Bennett Jull
9 months ago
Happy free agency day! I wanted to wait and see who was qualified before finalizing my favourite targets for Toronto. We are in bizarre cap times… players have been bought out left and right, and some teams have taken advantage of others looking to create coveted cap space. Now that all is said and done and we are mere hours away, here are the free agents I hope Toronto at least takes a look at, in multiple categories:
Strong Top 6 Forward Options
Tyler Bertuzzi, Alex Killorn
This list isn’t very long and for good reason. There aren’t too many players out there that could adequately slot alongside members of the Core 4. Bertuzzi has a little bit of nasty to him, something the Leafs could use a little more of. He is skilled, a good skater, and has a 30-goal season under his belt only two years ago. Alex Killorn has multiple Stanley Cup rings and multiple 25-goal seasons. He may be aging, but he plays a very heavy game and he could fit in up and down the lineup while providing invaluable experience.  There will be multiple teams interested in these both players, and they will likely command a high price, but the Leafs should absolutely kick tires on both.
Strong Bottom 6 Forward Options
Miles Wood, Garnet Hathaway
Miles Wood is a player I have loved ever since he broke into the league. Having played his entire career in New Jersey, it’s time for a change. He plays a very North-South game and is an elite skater. Wood is very gritty, and can still chip in with some offence. He proved his health this past year, and I could see him skating on the third line. Hathaway is as physical as they come. Hard-nosed and aggressive, his need could be redundant if Toronto signs Ryan Reaves, which has been strongly rumoured. Both Hathaway and Reaves are 4th line staples.
Potential Former All-Stars?
Matt Duchene, Blake Wheeler
It feels weird typing this, but both players were bought out by their respective clubs. Duchene is a good old Ontario boy and scored 43 goals just two seasons ago… At 32, he still has gas in the tank, and I wonder if he could fit in Toronto’s middle 6. Blake Wheeler has eclipsed the 90-point mark twice. While he is a little older at 36, he brings leadership qualities and a 6’5 frame that could be useful anywhere in the lineup. It will be very interesting to see how both are sought after in Free Agency.
Just Stay Healthy…
Connor Brown, Max Pacioretty
Connor Brown is obviously a player Leafs fans know well. He can skate and has the ability to play in any scenario. Unfortunately, he played in just four games due to a torn ACL. Not an easy injury to come back from, he will be itching to get back to full form next season. Perhaps one of the few players that knows what it’s like to miss even more time is Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty has six 30-goal seasons under his belt… he can flat-out find the back of the net. He can also find the treatment table… Pacioretty played in just five games this season having missed most of the season before. Toronto has a world-class medical staff, could either player make sense? My bet is Brown ends up in Edmonton.
Time For a Change of Scenery
Maxime Comtois, Christian Fischer, Matthew Phillips
All three of these players have only ever experienced one organization. Clearly, a change is needed. Phillips is ready for the NHL. He has torn up the American League, and Calgary has put a contract offer in front of him. Treliving knows him well, and I wonder if he gives him a shot to succeed in Toronto. Comtois and Fischer are both former 2nd round picks that have yet to really take off. At 24 and 26 years old, they still have plenty of time to figure it out. Perhaps a new chance in the blue and white could kickstart either of them to reach their full potential.
Right-handed D-Men
Scott Mayfield, Radko Gudas, Matt Dumba
I really like Scott Mayfield. His steady presence and size would be very welcomed on a smaller Toronto blue line. We all know Radko Gudas… the veteran is about as gritty as they come, and his strengths were on full display during Florida’s run to the final. He is a constant thorn and could fit in nicely on the Leaf’s bottom pair. Dumba has spent his whole career with Minnesota. He can be utilized in any scenario, and he plays bigger than his 6’0 body suggests.
Left-handed D-Men
Carson Soucy, Ryan Graves, Niko Mikkola
There are themes with these three. Soucy and Graves are 6’5, Mikkola is 6’4. All of them have playoff experience and all are on the right side of 30. Soucy was picked 137th overall, Graves 110th, and Mikkola went 127th. All of them have overcome obstacles to be steady NHL players capable of playing on a second pairing. Depending on what the demand is from other teams, and there will be loads of it, I would be thrilled if any of them ended up with Toronto.
Younger D-Men
Cal Foote, Will Borgen
Cal Foote is not that far removed from going 14th overall in the 2017 draft. He has bounced around a couple of organizations and has yet to find his way. Foote is 6’5 and has some very strong bloodlines (Adam Foote). He is a player I think Toronto should take a flyer on, and see if they can get the best out of him. Borgen just played his first full season in the NHL. He played well for Seattle, and at 26 years old will be looking for another consistent season. Both players are right-handed, which would be welcomed given Toronto’s current makeup.
Please Don’t Go…
Noel Acciari, Luke Schenn, Ryan O’Reilly
It’s looking increasingly unlikely that any of these three will return to Toronto. Acciari and Schenn provided the Leafs with some serious physicality, and Toronto will need to replace both of them with multiple gritty players. Schenn especially exceeded expectations. He played elevated minutes alongside Morgan Rielly, which enabled Rielly to have a phenomenal playoff. O’Reilly will be missed in the dressing room and on the ice. His thumb injury cut into the amount of time we got to enjoy him, and there will be a long list of suitors for the former Conn Smythe winner.
My Favourites:
Alex Killorn or Tyler Bertuzzi, Miles Wood, Matt Duchene, Max Pacioretty, Scott Mayfield, any of the left-handed d-men, and Cal Foote. I hope everyone enjoys Canada Day, Go Leafs Go!
Tune into the The Daily Faceoff Live Free Agent Special on July 1st from 11am – 1pm EST hosted by Tyler Yaremchuk, featuring NHL insider Frank Seravalli, serving you all the up to the minute details!
Then, check out The Leafs Morning Take at 4pm EST where Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill will break down the frenzy of Free Agency.

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