After the signing of Joe Thornton earlier this month, Leafs GM Kyle Dubas indicated that he is likely done adding to his roster, but that he would keep the lines of communication open to other free agents and opposing GM’s.
“I think we’re always open to exploring anything. I don’t think we ever get too close-minded, or at least we try not to get too close-minded with any opportunities that might be there. I think what we are seeing now is that the players that are out there is the players look at our situation and don’t see a huge amount of opportunity at this point, whereas that was different about a week ago.” Dubas said after the signing. “There are those elements that are a little bit prohibitive in terms of us adding players. There are still guys who think they can beat guys on our roster out, but at the same time, we’ve got salary cap constraints and contract slot constraints as well. We would be open-minded to anything. We will continue to stay in touch with those players that are still available, but I would be surprised if we were to add anybody more at this point at any of the three positions that would make a huge impact.”
After the signings of Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev, Toronto is just over $1 million over the $81.5 million salary cap, but Dubas said that it is possible that he will keep less than 23 players on the NHL roster to get under the cap. If there are players that are willing to take a league-minimum deal to sign with the Leafs, it would likely necessitate a trade to move out salary to fit them in. That would rule out the remaining top free agents such as Mike Hoffman or Sami Vatanen but does not rule out other players still unsigned.
Here are five players who could be helpful additions:
Dominik Kahun - Kahun is a forward who can play all three positions and scored 12 goals for Pittsburgh and Buffalo, puzzlingly the 24-year-old did not get a qualifying offer from the Sabres and might be someone willing to take a one-year deal for a chance to play.
Corey Perry - After being bought out by Anaheim, the 35-year-old Cup winner signed a one-year deal with Dallas and made a noticeable difference for the Stars in a depth role in their run to the Cup Final. Perry is no longer the player he once was, but proved in the playoffs he will do almost anything to win.
Zdeno Chara - This is likely a pipedream since it seems impossible that Chara would choose to finish his career anywhere but Boston, but if the Bruins have decided to move on, the Leafs would be foolish not to check-in to see if he was interested in taking one last stab at a Stanley Cup with Toronto.
Michael Grabner - The former Leaf was bought out by Arizona, but still has blazing speed at age 32 and remains an effective penalty killer. With the additions of Wayne Simmonds and Thornton, the Leafs speed up front has decreased but the addition of Grabner would counteract that.
Ron Hainsey - It’s highly doubtful that Hainsey would return to the Leafs to be a depth defenseman unless it was for a significant payday, but the 39-year-old can play either side and still can keep up with the pace of the game.
Listen to the Off the Post podcast with JD Burke of EP Rinkside, who takes a closer look at the Leafs 2020 Draft
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