Wednesday, November 29, 2023
HomeHockeyMaple Leafs Can Strengthen Core with These 2 Free Brokers

Maple Leafs Can Strengthen Core with These 2 Free Brokers

It has been every week for the reason that Toronto Maple Leafs named their new basic supervisor (GM), Brad Treliving. He turns into the 18th GM in staff historical past and might be tasked with lastly serving to the staff’s core hoist Lord Stanley’s Mug. His first order of enterprise is to get a contract extension in place for star Auston Matthews and presumably for William Nylander once they turn out to be eligible as of July 1, 2023. One other precedence is his head coach. Sheldon Keefe is underneath contract for subsequent season and all indicators level to him remaining with the staff and perhaps even receiving a contract extension.

Associated: 4 Key Fixes a Focus of Treliving’s Strategic Mission for Maple Leafs

In any case that’s finished, his consideration will flip to the 2023 NHL Draft and the opening of free company on July 1, 2023. Toronto has lots of gamers on expiring offers, together with Michael Bunting, David Kampf, Noel Acciari and Ryan O’Reilly. Nonetheless, the staff additionally wants to take a look at the open market and see who can enhance their roster, particularly their top-six. Listed below are a couple of choices that Treliving and the Maple Leafs ought to contemplate signing this summer time.

Connor Brown

Doesn’t all of Leafs Nation need to see a reunion with Connor Brown? Properly, it simply would possibly occur. Brown is an unrestricted free agent, which suggests Toronto might lastly convey again a participant who by no means needed to go away. His play is contagious, at all times with coronary heart, physicality, and tenacity. Earlier than he was traded to the Ottawa Senators, he performed up and down the lineup, just like Alex Kerfoot’s position in recent times.

He additionally had excellent chemistry with Matthews when he performed on the highest line. Matthews appeared to have discovered a brand new Zach Hyman-style linemate in Bunting, however this season proved in any other case. If Treliving can convey again Brown, he may very well be the brand new Hyman, who digs for pucks and will get into the soiled areas to arrange performs for Matthews in addition to rating 30-40 factors a season.

Connor Brown, Washington Capitals (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Brown nearly missed all the 2022-23 season on account of damage, which may very well be each good and unhealthy for the Maple Leafs. The great is they can get him on a less expensive deal, someplace round $2 million-$2.5 million for a season. The unhealthy is his ACL damage might have long-lasting results on his recreation, or worse, he might injure his ACL once more and miss one other yr. However the good outweighs the unhealthy right here.

Even when he indicators for round $2 million per season, the decrease common annual worth (AAV) will give the staff extra cap house to spend in different areas. The contract construction that Treliving ought to contemplate for Brown is $5.5 million over two seasons – $2 million for the primary season and $3.5 million for the second. This manner, he will get the second yr assured with extra money, however the Maple Leafs can improve his wage when the cap will increase in 2024-25.

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Let’s additionally not overlook that Brown is a hometown child who grew up an enormous fan of the Maple Leafs. Sadly, he was dealt to assist dump Nikita Zatizev’s contract, however he would possibly benefit from the probability to put on the blue and white in entrance of family and friends once more, which makes his return to Toronto this offseason a really actual risk.

Ivan Barbashev

Ivan Barbashev has been enjoying out of his thoughts with the Vegas Golden Knights throughout this postseason run. He has cemented himself as a top-six participant within the NHL and may very well be the participant that each one contending groups have on their checklist this summer time (if he doesn’t re-sign with the Golden Knights). Like Brown, the Maple Leafs have been missing his sort of recreation of their top-six. Sure, they’d Bunting, however he wasn’t one of the best puck battler – which the staff misplaced when Hyman signed with the Edmonton Oilers. Including a participant of this magnitude to their high six could be instrumental down the stretch and within the postseason. Like Vegas, Toronto carries lots of expert gamers, and this postseason, the Golden Knights have proven the significance of getting gamers like Barbashev alongside their stars.

Ivan Barbashev Vegas Golden Knights
Ivan Barbashev, Vegas Golden Knights (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

It may very well be extraordinarily laborious for the Maple Leafs to signal Barbashev if additionally they have plans to convey again O’Reilly and Bunting, who will command a superb portion of the staff’s cap house. Nonetheless, with Treliving calling the photographs, this offseason may very well be the one when the group strikes on from most of their UFAs to usher in new gamers to assist the staff. Barbashev’s asking value may very well be as excessive as $3.5 million over three-five years, which isn’t a foul deal. The one difficulty is whether or not the group could be snug giving him a five-year deal. If not, would that up the asking value to over $4 million per season? Treliving ought to contemplate a contract with a gradual AAV, someplace round $3.75 million for 4 years.

2023 NHL Entry Draft Guide Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli Banner

Barbashev is a confirmed winner; he already has one ring and is on the verge of successful one other. That is precisely what the Maple Leafs’ group wants – skilled gamers who can present the core how one can handle the playoffs with out giving up on themselves. You’ll be able to argue that former GM Kyle Dubas did that, however there have been solely a handful of winners on the staff. Insulating them with veterans who know what it takes can solely assist the group develop.

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The Maple Leafs have lots of selections to make this offseason with a brand new voice of their GM’s chair. However via all the inner contract negotiations and training selections, there may be additionally the NHL Draft and free company that might change the staff’s tradition loads. This summer time may very well be probably the most thrilling and scary one in latest reminiscence for Leafs Nation.



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