Almost as important as the Toronto Maple Leafs getting restricted free agents Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson under contract, and making trades to improve the club in certain areas will be their ability to find inexpensive players in free agency to fill support roles.
Most of the replacements for departing free agents (James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Dominic Moore, Tomas Plekanec and Roman Polak) last season came internally and while promotion within the organization will relied on heavily at training camp next September, the Leafs pro scouting department will also have to pitch in and find low-price solution in certain areas.
While free agents Par Lindholm and Igor Ozhiganov did not adequately fill the roles they were brought in for, the signing of Tyler Ennis In the opening week of free agency paid dividends, as the 29-year-old scored 12 goals in 51 games on a league-minimum $650,000 salary.
Ennis was looked upon as a long shot to make the Leafs and a reclamation project after the veteran was bought out by Minnesota last June. It was a smart depth move for Toronto in case some of their forward prospects were not ready to make the jump or RFA William Nylander did not agree to a new deal, and also turned out great for Ennis, who could get a multi-year deal from another NHL club or re-sign with the Leafs.
GM Kyle Dubas may be more than willing to seek out veterans looking for a one-year deal at low salary to play a support role to extend their career. One avenue they may explore again are players that get bought out in the days between the end of the Stanley Cup Final and free agency on July 1.
It is doubtful that anyone will be interested in taking on the final two years of Corey Perry or Dion Phaneuf’s deals in a trade, but if veterans like them are available for under $1 Million on a one year deal, would teams looking for depth like the Leafs be interested???
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