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Who should interest the Maple Leafs on Frank Seravalli’s buyout candidate list?

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Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
29 days ago
Depending on how things go for the Oilers this weekend it could be as soon as Monday that the league is in buyout season. The free agency crop this year isn’t particularly suited to the Leafs’ needs and having a few more names enter the fray via buyouts and restricted free agents not qualified will benefit them.
Our Nation Network insider at Daily Faceoff, Frank Seravalli, has put together his list of buyout candidates. These nine players might not be locks for being bought out and not all of them are fits for the Maple Leafs, but here is a quick reaction to the candidates.

Definitely not interested

  • Jack Campbell unsurprisingly made Frank Seravalli’s list given that the Oilers demoted him and are in desperate need of cap space to run back as much of their Cup calibre roster as possible. It’s a pretty safe bet that the Leafs who let Campbell walk because the writing was on the wall aren’t going to revisit him.
  • Pierre-Luc Dubois being bought out also seems predestined but expensive. The Leafs could use a 2nd-line centre who has a two-way game, but the quality and consistency aren’t there with Dubois, not to mention that if he takes a ‘prove yourself’ deal, it’s likely to be in his hometown of Montreal. The drum I’ve been beating is that a Dubois for Josh Anderson trade would make some sense as both teams can get a look at a player that might work in their system better and avoid buyouts. (For what it’s worth, Josh Anderson didn’t make Frank Seravalli’s buyout list.)
  • Jean-Gabriel Pageau is a player that Frank identifies more as a trade candidate than a buyout candidate and at $5M that’s a hard sell for the Maple Leafs lineup. Even with a buyout the contract on Pageau would likely be on the expensive side for a bottom six player. Maybe a Kampf for Pageau flip where the Leafs take on the higher cap hit and a potential 3C in exchange for a cheaper 4C with longer term is a mutually beneficial arrangement, but playing matchmaker on bottom six talent seems premature when there are more pressing issues heading into a critical roster overhaul window.

The Maybes

  • Torey Krug’s history with Craig Berube and Mike Van Ryn makes him notable. The Leafs need defence and their coaches are familiar with this one although Krug never had the success in St. Louis that he enjoyed in Boston. It’s probably not a relationship looking to be rekindled but maybe at the right price.
  • Cal Petersen’s situation is pretty similar to that of Jack Campbell. The difference is that the Leafs haven’t had a look at Petersen yet. Cal as part of the tandem with Woll is a bit of a stretch but maybe selling him on the idea that a third string goaltender in Toronto will get plenty of NHL starts makes him a fit. He’s perhaps a mystery box with more appeal than Martin Jones or Matt Murray.
  • Cam Atkinson is someone who could be worth a buy low flyer if the Maple Leafs move on from Mitch Marner and prioritize defence and goaltending in the trade or using the cap space. A Marner trade might be unlikely but Atkinson is a playmaking winger who could bring some of what the Leafs would be missing if Marner or Domi aren’t around.

Definitely kick the tires

  • Ryan Suter is not in his prime. Now that the obvious has been stated we can move on and talk about how if he is not ready to retire, he’d be a strong bottom pairing option who can move up into second pairing spot duty throughout the season. He’d give the Leafs another right shot and help with a Leafs blueline that seems like it is destined for a radical change next season. I’d say it’s a long shot that Suter would see the Leafs as a fit and wonder if we see him put in one last season for a team like the Bruins or Rangers before riding off into the sunset with some of the deepest pockets in NHL history.
  • Barclay Goodrow is similar to J.G. Pageau except that it should be cheaper to sign him, and he plays a little greasier which should be to the Leafs’ liking. Goodrow on a contract similar to what the Leafs are offering Calle Jarnkrok could be worthwhile and is the dollar store alternative to Tyler Bertuzzi.
  • Joonas Korpisalo is who I purposely saved for last. Korpisalo and the Leafs come up a lot. There’s the COVID play-in series that didn’t produce fond memories and since then he’s been a constant in the Leafs trade rumour mill. Last season in Ottawa was a disaster for Korpisalo and the Senators wanting to move on doesn’t come as much of a surprise. And while the Leafs don’t have a history of rejuvenating struggling goaltenders, Korpisalo has played some of his best hockey under Ian Clark, the goaltender coach that Leafs’ goaltending coach Curtis Sanford worked under. Joonas might not be a stat fit for the Maple Leafs but he could be a style fit and perhaps a better risk than someone like Laurent Brossoit.

No Maple Leaf buyouts likely

Please stop with the Tavares and Marner buyout talk as their bonus-laden deals accompanying the fact that they are both very good players prevents that from happening. Even David Kampf and Calle Jarnkrok have bonuses in their structure that would prevent them from being bought out and the cap penalty on Ryan Reaves is $200k for burying him in the minors vs. a $450k annual hit for the next four years with a buyout. The only notable player the Leafs have under contract without a bonus structure impacting their buyout is Morgan Rielly. Rielly would actually give the Leafs a cap credit of $187k in year one of a buyout before stinging the Leafs salary cap to the tune of $1.83M-$3.83M every season between 2025-26 to 2035-36. Even if you hold some bizarre grudge against Morgan Rielly and want him gone that’s not happening.
The players suggested by Frank Seravalli all have caveats that he explores in his article and it is worth reading for that context. And while there are names that could be intriguing, none of them jump off the page as perfect fits for Toronto. That’s to be expected. They are buyout candidates after all.

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