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Why the Maple Leafs will be major players in free agency

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
17 days ago
Brad Treliving is gearing up for his second offseason as Toronto Maple Leafs general manager and unlike last summer, he’s had ample time to prepare for what’s to come July 1 when free agency begins. Being on the job for over a year and seeing first-hand what the Maple Leafs need to add is going to lead to a very busy offseason in Toronto.
Treliving hired his preferred head coach in Craig Berube and now can continue to add more ‘piss and vinegar’ to the Maple Leafs. Berube likes to play an intense, in-your-face style of hockey and Treliving will take this into account when offering contracts to unrestricted free agents. The best part about it all is the timing. Treliving knows the Leafs need depth on defense and the 2024 free agent class is loaded with options, especially on the right side.
Toronto is projected to hold $18.8 million in cap space via our friends at CapFriendly, which is plenty of money to make a splash. It’s become quite obvious Treliving’s priorities are to bolster his blue line and to find another goaltender to partner with Joseph Woll. While he’s currently negotiating contract extensions with Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, he’s not being shy about what’s first on his priority list.
Bertuzzi’s agent, Todd Reynolds stated that he’s had productive talks with the Maple Leafs, but realizes there are other areas of emphasis. It’s a risky proposition for Treliving as Bertuzzi and Domi appear set to hit the open market on July 1 and can start discussing contracts with every team, but at the same time, with the limited depth on the Leafs’ back end, Treliving knows his team is cooked if they don’t shore up their blue line.

Defense Wins Championships

Offense sells tickets, defense wins championships. If the Leafs can learn anything from the Florida Panthers it’s that you need a strong six-man unit on defense to to win the Stanley Cup. Florida had an excellent mix of speed, skill, size, physicality and an ability to advance the puck. As it stands right now, the Leafs’ defense core aren’t even close to the same conversation as the Panthers blue line.
Treliving can change that this offseason and make the necessary upgrades. It’s been forever since the Leafs had an above-average blue line and while Treliving tried to re-tool on the fly ahead of last season’s trade deadline, he can’t settle for mediocrity this summer.
Signing two defensemen from a group that features Chris Tanev, Brett Pesce, Brady Skjei, Brandon Montour, Matt Roy, Nikita Zadorov, Matt Dumba, Shayne Gostisbehere, and Sean Walker would be a massive jolt. There’s also the likes of Brenden Dillon, Alec Martinez, Alexandre Carrier, Vincent Desharnais and Dylan DeMelo who would be viable depth options. Treliving can’t sit on his wallet next week, he needs to be willing to spend some significant dollars and not be afraid to pony up with some term on his offers to close deals.

Mitch Marner Potential Trade Could Influence Free Agency

The wild Mitch Marner saga continues as the latest comes from Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, who mentioned his belief that the Leafs have no desire to extend Marner. This could potentially mean a trade after July 1, when Marner receives a $7.25 million signing bonus. At this point, from what we know, the Maple Leafs have yet to ask Marner for a list of teams he’d consider, or come to him with a potential option, but if that changes, it could free up even more money for Treliving to address his defense and goaltending depth.
Marner’s on the books for $10.9 million and if he’s moved, and depending on the return, Treliving could create some significant financial flexibility, allowing for him to land a couple of big-ticket free agents. Of course, timing is everything and the offseason begins next week, so needless to say, there’s going to be a lot of major decisions made about the future of the Maple Leafs in the very near future.
Regardless of what transpires when it comes to a possible Marner trade, Treliving is in a very good spot. He has cap space to work with and a free-agent class loaded with exactly what the Maple Leafs’ desire, defensemen. Treliving can’t settle for lower-tier types this summer and must land two defencemen he can immediately plug into Toronto’s top four. It’s the difference between exiting in the first round or becoming the next Florida Panthers.
Get ready for the Daily Faceoff Live Free Agency Special, coming to you on July 1st, 2024 LIVE from 11am to 2pm Eastern Standard Time. Join Tyler Yaremchuk, Frank Seravalli and friends from all over the league 3 hours of non-stop action as they dive deep into the heart of the Free Agency. We will be breaking down every trade, discussing the impact on teams, predicting the future of the Free Agents, and giving you the inside scoop on all the wheeling and dealing happening around the league. Catch all the action live on July 1st from 11 AM to 2 PM EST for the The Daily Faceoff Live Free Agency Special you won’t want to miss!

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