The Toronto Maple Leafs have over 40 million in cap tied up between four forwards, Austin Mathews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander. Without moving one of these contracts like a William Nylander, I can’t see them landing a big name on their back-end like Alex Pietrangelo; also, the Leafs were too easy to play against in the playoffs and must get a lot tougher. Here are five names the Leafs should consider acquiring this postseason.
Tanev is a right-handed defenseman, a position that Toronto desperately needs. Tanev’s career Corsi is just below 50%, and he will look to sign a long-term deal this off-season around 5 AAV on a 5-year contract. He is a well-rounded vet that had two goals and 18 assists this season. He is excellent in his defensive zone, which Toronto could use desperately.
Dylan DeMelo is another right-handed defenseman that is incredible in his defensive zone. In 49 games in Ottawa this year, his Corsi was 53.1%, and DeMelo blocked 77 shots. These are incredibly impressive numbers on a terrible Senators club. DeMelo is only 27-years old and is in his prime. He is a no brainer for the defensive struggling Leafs to add.
Radko Gudas is not like the other defenseman on this list, and I suggest they add him even if they acquire either of the two defensemen above. He fixes both problems that Toronto has. Better defense in their own end of the ice and toughness. Gudas is steady in his half of the ice, he is right-handed, and he is tough as hell to play against. Gudas was paid 3.5 AAV on his last deal and is most likely looking for a similar deal but I believe the Leafs can get him for a cheaper AAV. He is a cheap, effective option to add some toughness and defense to the Leafs.
Trevor Lewis is not even your Diet Coke version of Nazem Kadri. He’s more of your RC Cola Kadri. Lewis may be looking for some term on the open market but, it won’t come with a hefty price tag. He is 33-years old and plays a very physical game. In 56 games, Lewis had six goals and six assists. He is, however, the type of player the Leafs are missing, not to get pushed around in a playoff series. For a team bumping up against the cap, he’s an excellent cheap addition.
Wayne Simmonds is on the back half of his career, much like Trevor Lewis; he is 32-years old and had eight goals and 17 assists last season. Simmonds brings physicality and can contribute points for the Leafs bottom-six. He has said he would go to Toronto and is from Toronto. The right-wing may sign a very team-friendly hometown discount for a shot at winning the Stanley Cup. The Leafs shouldn’t look to be adding more offensive scoring and should focus on becoming a more challenging opponent to play night in and night out. Simmonds could play some power-play minutes for the Leafs as well and provide a net-front presence.