The Toronto Maple Leafs decided last season they were open to moving out a number of assets for rentals. This time around it’s much different.
In 2020-21 Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas completed deals with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Nick Foligno and Riley Nash which materialized into zero playoff goals and another trade with the Calgary Flames accounted for one win from goaltender David Rittich. This time around there’s a much different vibe surrounding the Maple Leafs and management’s strategy will be more openminded to a number of things including adding players with term on their contract.
Internally the team has some negotiations to handle as starting netminder Jack Campbell is a pending unrestricted free agent who will be coming off making $1.65 million this season. Due for a big raise “Soup’s” contract is going to be a complicated matter. Then there’s newfound goal-scoring machine Ilya Mikheyev, who was recently promoted to the second line is also a pending free agent. Mikheyev has six goals in 10 games so far this season and if he continues his hot streak will be in line for a raise on his $1.64 million salary. Besides those two and perhaps any easy one in Jason Spezza, Dubas doesn’t have too much to deal with on his own roster. It’s what are you subtracting that becomes the issue.
The Maple Leafs are believed to be open to moving any of Justin Holl, Travis Dermott, Nick Ritchie, Pierre Engvall, and Petr Mrazek, however names like Alex Kerfoot and Jake Muzzin have also been mentioned if the team is bringing someone in with term on their contract.
So far ahead of this season’s deadline Toronto has been linked to mostly right-handed defenseman and depth forwards, so Leafs Nation is starting to get anxious to see what Dubas and company have in store this time around. We all saw last season’s strategy got them no where, perhaps the different approach with result in winning a playoff series or two.
Photo credit: David Berding-USA TODAY Sports