Staff Picks: Who we like for the Leafs in free agency

Photo credit:Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jon Steitzer
1 year ago
Here we are on the eve of free agency, and 25 hours away from the madness truly beginning. It seems like the last chance for us to weigh in on who are targets are before we start justifying who was actually signed. That’s why the question posed to the TLN writers this week is, “Who is your free agent target and why?”

Dylan Strome by Michael Mazzei

I believe the Leafs should focus their efforts on the non-tendered RFAs that are set to hit the open market, and the top choice for me is Dylan Strome. He has been making strides in his game despite Chicago mishandling him and barely giving him consistent playing time. The underlying metrics imply that he is a solid player and is more than deserving a a permanent roster spot, but Chicago apparently doesn’t think the same way and did not give him a qualifying offer. He should come at a reasonable price and would be a solid addition to the middle-six both this coming year and going forward given that he is right in the middle of his prime. He could be a hidden gem in free agency this summer and he is my choice for top target for the Leafs to acquire on July 13.

Eric Comrie by Dylan Murphy

Eric Comrie is probably the most underrated goalie on the market. Winnipeg’s defence was absolutely horrendous last year and he still put up a .920 save percentage across 20 games. And at the age of 26, he still has room to grow as a player. He’s not an option for a starter (yet) but I do think that he’d be a strong 1B in a tandem role with someone like Campbell, Kuemper, or Talbot. He has not earned much in his career and spent most of one season bouncing around on the waiver wire, a 3-year $1.5-$2 million (AAV) contract could be mutually beneficial to a team needing some form of stability in the goaltending position and also stability to a young player who is probably looking for a place to call home for longer than a few months.

Dylan Strome by Nick Barden

I love myself some Dylan Strome. He’s everything the Maple Leafs need right now. Young, still could have some great value, and has plenty of opportunity to earn with Toronto. All of that, plus he gets to play for the team he grew up watching? That sounds pretty good to me.
His numbers in recent years have been decent. Pre-pandemic and last season’s numbers show that he can still be a very good player, on the right team. If Toronto was able to get him and slot him somewhere within the top-six, I believe both parties would be extremely happy.

Andre Burakovsky by Mark Norman

This would have to involve moving out some contracts, but Andre Burakovsky would be a great addition to the Leafs top-six by injecting speed and skill on left wing, where the Leafs are thinnest. At 27, the versatile Burakovsky is one of the youngest UFAs of his class. He put up a career year of 61 points in 82 games last year with his most common linemates being Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon. Over the last three seasons, he has produced at a 64-point pace over 82 games. A 5-6 year deal would probably fall in the $6.5-6.8M range. It makes the Leafs more top-heavy but what do we have to lose with just two years left on Auston Matthews’ current deal?

Vincent Trocheck by Jon Steitzer

I was all set to write about Miles Wood, but the New Jersey Devils pulled the rug out from under me and I’m having to scramble to think who else I feel really strongly about. I like chasing the upside of Eric Comrie in net. I think Dylan Strome is one the best options to address the Leafs center depth, a definite upgrade over Alex Kerfoot, but I’m going with Vincent Trocheck, who has the potential to add some additional physicality to the Leafs top nine, along with some center depth, and it just becomes a challenge of trying to make the money work.
I don’t know if there are too many teams looking to offer Trocheck a seven year deal, but perhaps a front loaded, bonus laden contract for Trocheck gets the Leafs in the mix. He might not have the size, but he has the desire to hit and that’s what the Leafs need more of at this stage. If you want the size and are willing to give up the depth at center, I’d consider Nino Niederreiter as well.
Who is your target? Tell us in the comments below.
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