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Free agent decisions first on the agenda for Dubas – UFA’s

May 19, 2022, 2:23 PM ET [170 Comments]
Mike Augello
Toronto Maple Leafs Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
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As with every offseason, the Toronto Maple Leafs have a number of decisions that will set up what the club will do in the trade market and free agency before the opening of training camp. Those decisions are above and beyond what they do with core players that have been part of six straight playoff failures, but with those whose contracts are up.

On their roster, the Leafs have 10 free agents (six unrestricted and four restricted) and even with the expiration of the salary retention on Phil Kessel’s deal, Toronto has less than $8 million in cap space to work with. That may change depending on trades that clear cap space, but this is where things stand currently on the six UFA’s.

Forwards (3)

Ilya Mikheyev
Jason Spezza
Colin Blackwell

The Leafs benefited from Mikheyev finding his scoring touch after two seasons where he battled injury and inaccuracy, but his 21 goals in 53 games and excellent two-way play will make it near impossible to re-sign unless they clear salary. It is likely that the big Russian will attract a great deal of interest on the open market and an offer in the $3.5 to 4 million a year range.

Spezza made it clear on Monday that he wants to return for a fourth season and is willing to take a veteran minimum deal, but only if he can contribute on an everyday basis. GM Kyle Dubas indicated that he would like to see players from the Marlies challenge for jobs and vets like Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford under contract next season will battle for fourth-line spots.

Blackwell was a late-season acquisition from Seattle and provided speed and versatility. His return depends on whether he will accept a short-term deal under $1 million.

Mark Giordano
Ilya Lyubushkin

Giordano was also pretty up-front about loving playing for his hometown team and there is recognition that re-signing with the Leafs would be contingent on taking less than he would get on the open market. A short-term extension of one-or-two years would likely be in the $2 million range, similar to what Alex Goligoski got in Minnesota, and that would mean the departure of Justin Holl.

Lyubushkin plugged in well on the right side with Morgan Rielly after being acquired from Arizona but is a better fit in a bottom-pairing role. His price point would likely be similar to Jani Hakanpaa’s free-agent deal with Dallas last summer (three years x $1.5 million AAV).

Jack Campbell

Campbell said he loves playing in Toronto and Dubas has a long history with the 30-year-old coming off his best season, but agent Kurt Overhardt is a tough negotiator and “Soup” chose to bet on himself instead of taking a rumored multi-year offer from the Leafs before last season for less than what they signed Petr Mrazek for.

It is likely that Dubas will find a way to dispose of Mrazek’s deal with a number of teams looking for goaltending, and that may help the Leafs in getting Campbell extended, but it all depends on how much the term and AAV is. If the number is four or more years, and a salary starting with a 5, Campbell may get it, but it is doubtful it will be from Toronto.


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