With the Toronto Maple Leafs eliminated from the qualifying round by the Columbus Blue Jackets, there are lots of rumours surrounding the team. With the players, management and fans upset with the ending of 2019-20 NHL season there is plenty of speculation about what will happen to the team. Today we’ll take a look at some Toronto Maple Leafs rumours.
Toronto Maple Leafs Rumours
Re-Signing Jason Spezza
Rumour: The Leafs are planning to meet with Jason Spezza to discuss re-signing in Toronto for the upcoming season.
Friedman on Jason Spezza: "In think he wants to play until he drops and I think they really liked him, I've heard they're going to meet with him probably in a week or so, just to see where he is…They loved Jason Spezza this year, they loved him." #LeafsForever
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) August 13, 2020
Analysis: With the 2020-21 season on the horizon for the Leafs, attention turns to some of their free agents. Now that Jake Muzzin is signed, the biggest UFA on the team will be centre Jason Spezza. Spezza had a large impact on the Leafs fourth line as a skilled, experienced player this season. He was scratched for the first part of the season under Mike Babcock, however, after Sheldon Keefe took over the team saw his true value.
The Leafs have had a lot of issues figuring out a fourth line centre over the last few years. They have gone through players like Brian Boyle, Tomas Plekanec and Frederik Gauthier for instance. The stability that Spezza gives the Leafs in that position is well worth trying to hang onto for GM Kyle Dubas. Not only does Spezza provide value on the fourth line, but he also is able to play on the second powerplay unit or up in the lineup at 5v5 if need be. Spezza has been a fantastic player for the Leafs this season. It seems with an upcoming meeting the Leafs will try desperately to keep him.
The only issue for the Leafs is any potential cap hit. The Leafs looked fine salary-wise when at the deadline when the cap was set to go up, but with it being frozen they’ll be in a pinch. Spezza will need to take a similar contract to the one he had this season. Although it isn’t unheard of for players to take less to remain with a team, it isn’t necessarily common. While Spezza took league minimum to come to Toronto in the first place, there are no guarantees moving forward. Similarly, the Leafs shouldn’t offer more than one year for a bottom-line player, despite how effective he is.
The Future of Leafs Goaltending
Rumour: Elliotte Friedman said on the 31 Thoughts Podcast that he doesn’t believe that the Leafs will be extending Frederik Andersen. They will go into the year with him set to go into unrestricted free agency.
Analysis: Andersen has been a key piece of the Leafs core since he was acquired from the Anaheim Ducks prior to the 2016-17 season. He has been fantastic for the Leafs in the majority of his time in Toronto. Having Andersen walk away from the team as a UFA would be huge for both the player and the organization. With no NHL ready starters, the Leafs would have to look at a trade or free agency to fill in. There is still a while before a player like Joseph Woll could step up.
The issue with Andersen being a UFA at this point is he will be turning 32 by the time he plays under his next contract. Based on his prior performances, Andersen will likely look for a raise. That is one thing the Leafs cannot do for an ageing goaltender. It has also never been a good idea to give term to goaltenders in general, and with the flat cap, salary is an incredibly valuable asset.
If the Leafs do part ways with Andersen they will need a new goaltender. While Jack Campbell has been a good acquisition for the Leafs, he is strong in the backup role. Friedman mentions a few names that the Leafs could be interested in. A player that the Leafs could snatch up is UFA Corey Crawford if the term is low. While injury-prone for the last few seasons, Crawford has been excellent when he did play. Markstrom and Holtby are two other players that Friedman mentioned, however, Holtby provides the same issue that Andersen does. If the Leafs decide they cannot keep Andersen after all, they will need to make some decisions quickly. There are lots of options, however, they will need to find the right option for their team.
Leafs Assistant Coach
Rumour: Paul MacFarland has left the Leafs bench to coach the Kingston Frontenacs. The organization also did not renew Andrew Brewer as an assistant coach. As a result, the Leafs could be interested in hiring Bruce Boudreau behind the bench as Keefe’s assistant.
There's talk Bruce Boudreau would consider giving himself a demotion and applying if it meant a chance to work with his beloved hometown Leafs. https://t.co/iuYKZw7DEj
— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) August 14, 2020
Analysis: With Paul MacFarland leaving after just one season with the team, the Leafs will be looking for an assistant coach yet again. The name that has been most frequently thrown around is former head coach of the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild Bruce Boudreau. Boudreau has had plenty of success in the regular seasons with his team. He even took the Ducks to the Western Conference Finals in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in the 2014-15 season.
Boudreau would add a lot of experience and authority if he were to be behind the bench. The rumours are circulating that Boudreau would be willing to take an assistant job rather than head coach due to his fandom of the team and the fact that he is from Toronto. This is a big area the Leafs can capitalize on and look to improve the team here. If the Leafs could acquire such a person for behind their bench with Sheldon Keefe, it should help going into next season.
This concludes the Toronto Maple Leafs rumours today!
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