Free agent day is finally here and it does not appear to be a day filled with excitement for the Toronto Maple Leafs, as it was three years ago when John Tavares signed a seven-year, $77 million contract. The ramifications of signing four forwards for more than $40 million and the flat $81.5 million salary cap will be felt the most today, as two longtime veterans and an expensive trade deadline additions appear to be headed out of town.
It is a foregone conclusion that winger Zach Hyman will agree to a seven-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers, in excess of $5 million per season. While many Leaf fans are happy for the 29-year-old Toronto native getting a big payday, they have to wonder how the absence of his ability to dig the puck out of the corners will effect the top line of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner.
That being said, even if the Leafs had significant cap space available, a seven-year deal for Hyman with his history of knee problems and the type of game he plays would have not been smart. Toronto was interested in bringing him back because of the important role he played on the club, but signing another forward to a big salary was just impossible for GM Kyle Dubas to pull off with other areas of need to fill.
Andersen is reportedly heading to market without receiving a serious offer from the Leafs, which has to be reflective of the fact that they only wanted him back at their price and not at what the 31-year-old may get from other clubs.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reports that Carolina and Colorado (if they do not re-sign Philippe Grubauer) makes sense as a destination for Andersen and with the number of teams in need of goaltending, he could draw a multi-year deal close to his $5 million salary.
In spite of indications that the Leafs and winger Nick Foligno were talking, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported late Thursday night that the 33-year-old will be joining brother Marcus in Minnesota on a mutli-year deal. TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports that goalie David Rittich will be signing with Nashville.
David Pagnotta of
> The Fourth Period is reporting that the Leafs are still exploring trade options for forward Alex Kerfoot. This cannot be a surprise, since the Leafs need the cap space in other areas, especially to replace Andersen between the pipes. The attractive piece of Kerfoot is that he has been paid or will be paid today a $2.75 million signing bonus, making his salary owed for 2021-22 $750,000. This fact is something that budget conscious teams will be salivating over.
As for what may be coming in, both Friedman and TSN’s Bob McKenzie are reporting that the Leafs will likely announce the signing of 25-year-old winger Michael Bunting to a deal sometime today.
The 25-year-old Bunting played two seasons for Dubas and Sheldon Keefe with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and after three solid seasons with Tucson in the AHL scored 10 goals in 21 games as a rookie with the Coyotes.
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