It is hard to say what fans can expect out of the Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason. The team has holes to fill on the roster and the problem is how they will fill them. Will the team turn to free agency or be able to promote from within, that is what many are waiting to find out.
The teams AHL affiliate the Toronto Marlies recently capped off their year with a Calder Cup victory. The general manager of that team, Kyle Dubas who is now in charge of the Toronto Maple Leafs, has a big role to play this offseason. When it comes to filling out holes in their roster with players in the AHL, nobody would know best who is ready to make the full time jump to the NHL than Dubas.
So all eyes are on the rookie NHL GM who has been around long enough to understand what is happening and how it does, so the transition should be smooth.
With re-signing Connor Carrick they helped fill a hole in the defense for at least another year, although signing one more defenseman to help out would be ideal.
Then there is the big what if. What if John Tavares signs with the Leafs when he hits the market on July 1? If they were to land Tavares it would be a hefty contract, one that the Leafs can afford this offseason with just under $25-million in cap space.
John Tavares and his reps no longer plan to bring any additional teams into their free-agent process after meeting with Dallas and Tampa today.
The field is down to six: Leafs, Islanders, Sharks, Bruins, Stars and Lightning. #TavaresWatch
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 27, 2018
But with Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, James van Riemsdyk, Tomas Plekanec and Dominic Moore all hitting the free agent market, the team is preparing to lose some depth pieces. The big one being van Riemsdyk who scored a career-high 36 goals last season.
It will be interesting to see what happens with William Nylander. He is a restricted free agent and at 22-years-old with 135 points in 185 career games, he is going to get paid. The question is when. The Tavares decision really has an impact on Nylander but if the Leafs do land him where would that leave them when it comes to re-signing other young studs next season.
Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews are both restricted free agents next year and they won’t come cheap. Kasperi Kapanen will also be a restricted free agent and Jake Gardiner will be an unrestricted free agent.
So Dubas got himself a promotion, but certainly has his hands full.
There is no doubt that he could sign all three players without landing Tavares but it will be interesting to see what he can do if he lands him. Trades to shed more cap is an option but if it comes to trading one of Matthews, Marner or Nylander, the young Swede will be on the move.
Signing a player like Tavares is a once in a lifetime opportunity which doesn’t happen often, so when someone his caliber hits the market you make it a priority to try and land them.
For a team like Toronto, overpaying is not an option like they have done in the past. Filling roster spots is what is most important.
It is tough to say what will happen this offseason for Toronto but there is no doubt all eyes are on the rookie 31-year-old GM.