The Toronto Maple Leafs will be cleaning out their lockers in the coming days after being eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After finally making it into the second round, they couldn’t find the answers for Matthew Tkachuk, Sergei Bobrovsky and the rest of the Florida Panthers, losing in five games. There’s a ton of uncertainty heading into the offseason in Toronto as some major decisions will be made on and off the ice.
Explore everything hockey with THW’s Hockeypedia pages.
As far as the roster goes, the Maple Leafs head into the summer with 11 total pending free agents and frankly, there should be a few of them who are shown the door but also a couple of players under contract who should also be moved. Here’s three Maple Leafs who certainly should not be back next season:
The Maple Leafs should start next season with Ilya Samsonov and Joseph Woll as their tandem. Matt Murray, who has one season left on his contract at $4.6 million on Toronto’s books, should not be back.
Murray’s actually cash salary is $8 million, however the Ottawa Senators have some money retained from the trade agreement with the Leafs. So essentially, if a buyout was to take place this summer, it would cost Toronto only $687,500 in 2023-24 and $2 million in 2024-25, according to Cap Friendly. This should be the route the team takes, unless a trade can be facilitated this summer and ideally at the NHL Entry Draft next month.
As for a trade, there is potential of interest from other teams. While Murray was unreliable in Toronto and couldn’t stay healthy down the stretch, he did have a decent regular season statistically and he does have two Stanley Cup rings. The 28-year-old veteran finished the 2022-23 campaign with 14-8-2 record with a 3.01 goals against average and a .903 save percentage.
Related: Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas Should Be Considered Team’s MVP
Latest News & Highlights
As for interested teams this summer, the likes of the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Winnipeg Jets, Los Angeles Kings, and Anaheim Ducks could all be in for changes in their crease. With only one season left on Murray’s deal the acquisition price would not be astronomical so a trade shouldn’t be ruled out at all at this point. I would put the Red Wings and Penguins near the top of the list of likely destinations. If it’s a buy out or a trade, regardless, Murray should not be back in a Maple Leafs uniform next season.
Maple Leafs defenseman Justin Holl is headed for free agency and that is going to make a lot of Leafs Nation happy. The lanky blueliner can be frustrating to watch at times and there’s zero doubt in my mind Holl should not be re-signed.
The 31-year-old Holl will receive some interest on the open market this summer just based on the fact he’s a decent penalty killer. Unfortunately for him, early on in these playoffs, the Leafs defenseman lost his confidence and couldn’t get off the ice fast enough as the Tampa Bay Lightning were overwhelming. He ended up getting scratched and should not have returned to the lineup against the Panthers. With all the bad outlet passes, bad reads in all three zones, key mistakes at pivotal times and very limited hockey sense, it was kind of crazy at times how much ice time Holl played.
The Maple Leafs have Connor Timmins, Timothy Liljegren, Jake McCabe, and up-and-comer Topi Niemela, who can all play the right side and are under contract for next season. Along with other free agent options once July hits, the Maple Leafs will have enough talent to easily replace Holl’s minutes next season.
Speaking of defensemen, the Maple Leafs would be wise to move on from TJ Brodie this offseason and trade the veteran blueliner. After having a no-trade clause the past three seasons, this protection now changes to a modified no-trade, with only 10 teams who Brodie can avoid. To me, his game fell off these playoffs and with Toronto needing some additional cap space this summer to fill out their forward group, the Maple Leafs should facilitate a trade and move on.
Brodie finished with three assists in 12 playoff games and to me, wasn’t his normal steady self. The biggest gaffe was his ability to defend Sam Reinhart in overtime during Game 3. He never put a body on Reinhart when he entered the zone and basically was just a pedestrian to the Panthers overtime winner.
It wasn’t just the one play that factors in here. It’s Brodie’s declining foot speed that’s going to influence his ability to defend, along with his inability to provide offense and his $5 million salary next season. The Maple Leafs would be wise to gauge the trade market this summer and find a suitor. A swap for a depth forward to help fill out the bottom six next season would be ideal.
Regardless of the outcome these playoffs change was coming to the Maple Leafs for the 2023-24 season. While the waiting game begins on general manager Kyle Dubas and coach Keefe, there’s no denying the fact the on-ice roster in Toronto will look much different next season. There’s zero doubt in my mind, the likes of Murray, Holl and Brodie should be first to go.