It’s well known that come July first most of the teams in the NHL will be offering long and lucrative contracts to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise – if they in fact make it to UFA status. While these two players would help the Maple Leafs turn their playoff drought into a playoff berth next season, it’s not likely that they will be able to fit either of those players under their cap, without shedding some salary.
Finding serviceable free agents, who will provide your team with solid play – at a reasonable cost (aka not Mike Komisarek or Colby Armstrong) is key to turning around a struggling franchise without a large amount of NHL ready, high ceiling prospects.
Here I will dive into the UFA pool, seeing if there is anything valuable (again, at a reasonable cost) to be had.
Let’s take a look at Matt Carle over the jump.

Matt Carle isn’t exactly a diamond in the rough – he’s a pretty well known commodity. However, a team might be able to persuade him to sign around the four million mark and that would be pretty decent value as long as he sustains this level of play.
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Carle has been a quality possession player so far in his NHL career, seeing a positive Corsi REL in all five years. Laviolette used Carle in defensive situations (<50% Off Zone starts) more often then not, this year (in past years as well). If it weren’t for the poor On-Ice Sv% he saw this year his +/- would have been a little nicer (for those of you who still like that stat).

Carle has had three nice years in a row now. He’s playing against mid-level competition without terribly good goaltending behind him and seeing positive results. At 27 he may be entering his defensive prime and could be ready for a step up in defensive responsibilities. If the Leafs could get him signed to a team friendly contract he could be useful for another five or six years.
Obviously Carle is a nice piece. I think the amount of money he will see in free agency may be a little high for what the Leafs can shell out without shedding salary. What do you think? Should Carle be a target come July first?
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