The 13 Players confirmed to Leave the Leafs

The Leafs have had a core group of players for many years that have stuck together year in and year out. The five players who comprise the team’s core have remained the same since the addition of Auston Matthews in 2016 and John Tavares in 2018. And practically from the first day, a great number of individuals have wanted it to change.

There was an avalanche of requests for change as we all entered this offseason. Not quite as loud as it was the previous season, primarily because I think the media really thought the Leafs were going to make a trade. It appeared as though they felt the squad had to. However, due to no-move clauses in contracts, no move can be made just anytime.

We have gone from, “They need to,” “They can’t,” “They will find a way,” “There is no way,” and “Maybe they won’t,” to, “They have to wait until next year.” This is after a month of this. Thus, it’s back to attempting to cram in as many top-tier support players as the cap space will allow. something the Leafs have made a concerted effort to accomplish since the start. Thus, players depart before receiving raises. I don’t know about the rest of you, but aside from Zach Hyman, I don’t really regret any of those cap losses.

The UFAs this year are all mostly leaving.

John Klingberg

As one of the poorest defenders in the NHL, John Klingberg was a blunder of an acquisition whose on-ice performance was completely predictable. When it comes to assessing this player, I’m tough on him. Aside from a few years when he was performing at his best, I don’t think he has ever been a top pair player. He started to fade long before he arrived in Anaheim, but his points made up for his overall negative value. Brad Treliving was fortunate that his cunning plan, like Dubas’s before it, resulted in enough damage to be placed on long-term care.

I’m not sure if he’ll ever play again.

Matt Murray

The trade for Matt Murray was a cunning move on the part of Kyle Dubas. And he was quite good for the one minute that he was healthy. Even though he would never play for the Leafs again, they did the extremely Leafy thing (the real meaning of the name) and used all of their resources to assist him recover from his injuries. It is unknown what his future holds because there is nothing harder to comprehend than a goalie who hasn’t played.

But I don’t think he’s going to come back.

TJ Brodie

Speaking about decline, the Leafs’ season was characterized by it. After serving as Toronto’s defenseman for three years, it was difficult to witness TJ Brodie struggle at defence. By the playoffs, he was unfit to play. He will be used differently at 34, but it won’t be with the Leafs.

Ilya Lyubushkin

I believe that he has missed his chance to play a straightforward NHL game that brings value. Thus, for a few more years, he will be moved around from team to team to produce big hits, but when the hitting stops, he won’t have enough speed to carry himself.

Mark Giordano

Which is worse, Giordano losing his father in-season and fighting to keep a third-pairing position, or Brodie losing his father last summer and not being able to find his game on the ice? In actuality, Giordano is still playable at 40. When compared to the two players above him on this ranking, he had a far better season. It hurts that he wasn’t able to receive more “Gio” chants at the end of this season, even though he claims that his career hasn’t ended in this manner.

Ilya Samsonov

Samsonov’s signing was a good attempt to identify a goaltender whose poor performances in previous seasons were an anomaly. As it happens, the Toronto one that was good turned out to be the exception. It’s incredible to think that Toronto started their poorest keeper in the playoffs after playing him for 40 games. However, if you needed further proof, the Star report that is linked above contains the information that they won’t be re-signing him.

Joel Edmundson

How much I liked him on the Leafs surprised me. He’s never been Giordano level, but as a third-pairing and PK guy, he’s worth a modest cost. The Leafs could do that, but they could also try to obtain it for less money, which is something they ought to be able to accomplish.

Martin Jones

The move that appeared to be a last-ditch effort to acquire a third keeper who could pass waivers ended up being the finest one regarding netminders last season. However, nothing is more troublesome than success. Would he once again clear as the number three? Though I’m sure someone will be persuaded to offer him more money as a backup by his.902 save percentage, the Leafs may take him under consideration for that job.

Kyle Clifford and Dylan Gambrell

Both of these players were regulars in the AHL for the whole season. Neither, in my opinion, have any chance of being remembered by the NHL. They’ll probably find new homes.

Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi

According to what I’ve read in the reports—and perhaps more importantly, what hasn’t been stated—the Leafs want to sign Bertuzzi and will make it happen, but they won’t give Domi what he wants in terms of terms or money.

The main topic of the Bertuzzi discussion, I assume, is the difficult problem of AAV and term as a connected pair. Here’s a merciless Vegas-style perspective on it. Give Bertuzzi plenty of time to establish the AAV and make the assumption that a player with his level of play will ultimately end his career on LTIR. On sometimes, the latter few years of a contract truly aren’t anything to worry about.

That pertains to UFAs, while RFAS are not as clear-cut:

The AHLers

Keith Petruzzelli is entitled to arbitration, and disqualifying him is the proper line of action. His sole purpose upon signing was as an emergency goaltender hologram.

Max Lajoie is a potential NHL player who will probably never make it past emergency recall responsibilities because of his detrimental effect on offence. He is also entitled to arbitration, and I anticipate that he will not be eligible.

Issuing a Qualifying Offer lets the player in these salary categories get a raise by default. For players who legitimately should be earning minimum salary, it’s much more likely they go unqualified and then re-sign or go UFA and sign a minimum salary deal elsewhere.

Alex Steeves and Matt Ellis are both 24, both AHLers and both are on minimum salary deals. The only way they’re returning is with something similar. The Leafs may qualify Steeves as a maybe NHL recall option, but he’s shown zero reason to consider him for the NHL so far.

The Depth

The Wild signed Connor Dewar to a $850,000 AAV agreement, with arbitration rights. It makes sense for the Leafs to re-sign him, though they probably won’t want to pay him that much.

Noah Gregor ought not to be qualified because he has the right to arbitration.

Nick Robertson’s qualifying offer is $813,750, and he does not have the right to arbitration. He is a useful depth scorer, therefore the Leafs should re-sign him for a cheap price. At just 22 years old, he possesses no genuine trade value and is not a guy who should cause anyone concern when it comes to waivers.

Timothy Liljegren

I predict that he will be dealt, probably before the draft but definitely before any potential arbitration hearing. He’s 25, past his prime, and there’s no way he can improve outside finding someone who fits him better. He is a right shooter and an NHL depth defender with the kind of alluring skills that will lead someone to believe Sheldon Keefe simply didn’t comprehend him: agility, puck skills, and a huge shot that looks better than it is.

And that’s it. This year, my only grievances are for Gio and Brodie. Zach Hyman and the Rasmus Sandin deal used that up. Having to watch one of my favourites, Ryan O’Reilly, go last year when things didn’t really work out was heartbreaking. This year, my only concern is that my assumptions about who will be re-signed may be incorrect.

Although we will form some opinions on the team for next year, June is not the right time to do so. It’s too early, even on July 1. To position themselves for this season and beyond, the Leafs must make some very wise decisions in free agency. The simple task of temporarily bridging the gaps was completed last year. Brad Treliving had clearly hinted at that plan when he was brought on board. I believe that by being unable to trade anyone, they have now suffered the consequences of their own prudence and delay, but that is the way things are and the new, more difficult task must be completed.

No more John Klingbergs though, eh?

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