Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas looks increasingly likely to turn to the free agents market as he bids to strengthen the team’s defence. With Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci moving towards the exit, the need to act is becoming greater by the day, but it’s essential Dubas keeps his cool and explores all the options available to him. Trades are another avenue for the thirty-four-year-old to explore too, and they could be more viable financially.
Aaron Ekblad, 24, is in demand right now. He’s a player who can add quality to any defence, and this is a problem for the Maple Leafs, as others will be taking a keen interest. The Ontario born defenceman, who has been with the Florida Panthers for six years, has come on leaps and bounds recently, leading to questions why they would consider letting him go. As always, it comes down to money. The Panthers are cutting back, Ekblad is due a raise, and other teams are circling ready to pounce. His arrival at the Maple Leafs would be well received.
The Maple Leafs, who are one of the most popular outfits when it comes to hockey betting at William Hill, know all about Brett Pesce, as he’s a player they have shown an interest in before. Discussions took place between Dubas and his counterpart with at the Hurricanes, Don Waddell, and they could resume soon. Pesce, who is a high-quality defender who converts penalty kicks with ease, could be subject to trade as the Hurricanes are keen on Frederik Andersen. The fantastic news for the Maple Leafs will be that Pesce’s salary demands are reasonable in comparison to those of other potential targets.
Colton Parayko, 27, could be involved in a trade, because of circumstance over anything else. The St. Louis Blues defenceman, who stands at an impressive 6’6″, would prove to be an excellent addition for the Maple Leafs. And, as the Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong continues to press on with attempting to re-sign Alex Pietrangelo and Vince Dunn, it could see Parayko make way to ensure the numbers work. The Leafs need a player like Parayko on their books, and his salary demands are in the can-do bracket for Kyle Dubas, as well as many other GM’s on the hunt for talent.
The Maple Leafs saw what David Savard was capable of recently when the Columbus Blue Jackets made it past them in the qualification round. So, they know the twenty-nine-year-olds strengths and what qualities he could add to the team. If there was a deal to be done from the Maple Leafs, it’s likely to be for one year only, and Savard’s availability is unclear as the Blue Jackets undoubtedly want to keep him in their ranks. But, as we all know, there is a lot of shuffling and reorganising going on, and the Blue Jackets are looking to add more potency to their attacking department.
Brodin, 27, currently represents the Minnesota Wild, but for how much longer is unknown. General manager Bill Guerin has an array of tasks to get through, but one of his priorities is working out if he can keep Brodin with the franchise beyond next season. Ideally, Minnesota Wild don’t lose one of their top performers. However, with one eye on the future, if Guerin can’t offer him terms, there may be a parting of ways soon. The Swede is another player who will be in demand if he’s to look elsewhere, but the Maple Leafs will be in the discussion, as Brodin fits with the profile they’re looking for.
MacKenzie Weegar and his future isn’t a priority for the Florida Panthers right now, as they continue to try and free themselves of the financial burden which is Michael Matheson’s contract. However, what could be crucial is how much they could pick up by allowing Weegar to head for the exit. He’s due to see his salary rise in less than a month, so offloading him now could be the way to go, especially if they struggle to find a resolution where Matheson is concerned. If the Panthers take this course of action, the twenty-six-year-old is someone the Maple Leafs will cast their eye over.
Niklas Hjalmarsson has made a career by being a player that his team can rely on to deliver consistently. His importance was evidenced after leaving the Chicago Blackhawks, with his former side struggling after his departure. Hjalmarsson now plies his trade with the Arizona Coyotes, but they’re attempting to move in a different direction, and the Swede’s face may no longer fit. The defenceman is a player who wants to win, and he will suit the Toronto Maple Leafs down to the ground. However, a stumbling block could be Hjalmarrson’s age.
Rasmus Ristolainen, 25, is a player who always makes the headlines where potential trades are concerned. As things stand, it’s unclear whether the Buffalo Sabres will be involved in deals, but they likely will be at some point. And, Ristolainen himself has come out and acknowledged that he expects to be one of the first to head for the Sabres exit. The Finn, who stands at 6’4, will solve several problems for the Maple Leafs if he were to arrive. So general manager Kyle Dubas will run the rule when the situation becomes clear.
Troy Stecher, of the Vancouver Canucks, is one of many players who could be departing imminently. Financially, it’s going to be challenging for Canucks general manager Jim Benning to retain the services of Stecher as well as Chris Tanev. And, it could be the twenty-six-year-old who is forced to make way. A decision on his future with the Canucks will be made easier for Benning, as the defenceman will undoubtedly want to see a salary increase come his way. It will open the door for teams such as the Maple Leafs to swoop.