The Toronto Maple Leafs had one of their busiest trade deadlines to date in 2020-21. While GM Kyle Dubas is known to make his big midseason moves in the month leading up to the deadline, the circumstances were different this season. Between the division realignment that has the Maple Leafs playing only Canadian teams and as the best team in the North Division, there’s no better time to go all-in, and Dubas recognized that.
With the deadline acquisitions of forward Nick Foligno, goaltender David Rittich, and defenseman Ben Hutton among other minor moves, Toronto added a couple of new names to their list of pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs). Some players will be prioritized over others, but it can be difficult to keep track of who management has to worry about re-signing.
Here is a breakdown of the odds that we’ll be seeing each of these pending UFAs in a Maple Leafs jersey next season.
Frederik Andersen – G
Breakdown: Guns are blazing with this one. Frederik Andersen has been one of Toronto’s most polarizing topics this season. After an underwhelming January, a decent February, and abysmal performance in March, the Danish netminder revealed he had been battling an injury of some sort. Jack Campbell has taken over the starter’s role for now, and Andersen hasn’t played a game since March 19.
With Zach Hyman’s contract expiring after this season, the Maple Leafs likely won’t be able to afford Andersen’s asking price. He may have grounds to demand a raise on his current $5 million annual cap hit based on his track record in Toronto. But at the same time, his numbers have steadily worsened each season and the Maple Leafs haven’t been able to advance past the first round of the playoffs with him between the pipes.
The Odds: 20%. I imagine that Andersen will want a fresh start with a team that will make him their go-to starting goalie and get paid like one as well. Unless he really wants to be in Toronto and takes a hefty pay cut to stay there, we won’t be seeing Andersen in the blue and white next season.
Zach Bogosian – D
Breakdown: Zach Bogosian was a pleasant surprise this season. Expected to be a part-timer on the backend, he’s turned into a bonafide bottom-pairing stay-at-home defenseman, which is the type of player Maple Leaf fans had been clamouring for in the last few years.
The thing is, the organization has prospect Timothy Liljegren waiting for a chance to crack the team on the right side. While Bogosian has been a welcome addition this season, I’m not sure that Dubas and co. will bring him back.
The Odds: 40% If Bogosian is willing to re-sign on a cheap contract under the assumption that he may not play every game like he has this season, management should bring him back. Again, it will all depend on what the Maple Leafs end up doing with Liljegren and what their situation on the right side looks like next year.
Nick Foligno – F
Breakdown: The Maple Leafs’ most highly-touted deadline acquisition, Nick Foligno offers the team defensive responsibility and a drive to win the Stanley Cup down the stretch that they’ve needed for a while. Considering that he captained the team that knocked Toronto out of the bubble last season, you can never go wrong adding leadership to your locker room.
That being said, the Columbus Blue Jackets love Foligno, and the feeling is mutual. While he’s fired up to be joining the NHL’s top team, it’s clear the Blue Jackets traded him as a rental since they won’t be making the playoffs this season.
The odds: 10%. Foligno is a welcome addition to the roster, and he’s going to become a fan favourite the minute he steps on the ice and makes a key defensive play or throws a big hit. But, unless things go so well in Toronto that he decides he wants to re-sign for a cheap price, he will go back to Columbus once the season is over.
Alex Galchenyuk – F
Breakdown: This one is a tough call. When the Maple Leafs acquired Alex Galchenyuk for peanuts, it seemed like a weird move. But the team groomed him, let him play some AHL games to regain his confidence, and the move appears to be paying off. He has six points in 13 games with the team.
Toronto has used Galchenyuk as a utility knife this season. He’s seen time on each line, but he’s mainly played in the top-six. With the team likely to lose Joe Thornton and Foligno after the season, the Maple Leafs might be able to afford to re-sign him, provided he doesn’t ask for too much. Of all of the teams he’s played for since he left the Montreal Canadiens, the Maple Leafs have been the only ones to show him that they see his potential and have given him a chance to grow. Who knows, maybe he’d be interested in a return.
The Odds: 40%. This comes down to how Galchenyuk produces for the rest of the season and if the Maple Leafs can afford his asking price. But if his production remains consistent and he wants to come back on a team-friendly deal, I don’t see why Dubas wouldn’t bring him back. If not, there are other options for wingers via trade or free agency.
Ben Hutton – D
Breakdown: The Maple Leafs acquired Ben Hutton as a last-ditch move for defensive depth. With five points in 34 games for the Anaheim Ducks this season, the former fifth-round pick was really only acquired to challenge Travis Dermott for the left spot on the bottom pairing and provide insurance in the playoffs.
The Odds: 10%. Depth defensive options are a dime a dozen in free agency and I imagine the Maple Leafs are committed to giving Rasmus Sandin a shot at challenging for that bottom-pairing spot next season. However, the team has been interested in Hutton for a while, as they considered signing him during the 2019 offseason (from ‘Leafs’ Interest in defenceman Hutton Goes Back a Few Years,’ Toronto Sun, 4/12/21).
Unless Hutton really wows the team down the stretch, don’t expect him to return, and I’m sure there’s a team out there that would pay him for a more regular role.
Zach Hyman – F
Breakdown: Boy…the things I could say about Hyman. He’s turned a new leaf in 2020-21, with 33 points in 41 games. Combine that with his work ethic, his ability to slot anywhere in the lineup, and that he’d be on pace for a 30-goal season over a full 82 games, it’s safe to say that re-signing Hyman is the team’s top priority.
If Dubas doesn’t re-sign Hyman, it will automatically be a failed offseason. Hyman may have had a break-out year offensively, but he’s had the same work ethic since he entered the league, and now he probably has the leeway to ask for up to $6 million or $7 million annually. If I was management, I’d give him what he wants unless he demands upwards of those numbers.
The Odds: 100%. I won’t be saying this about any other UFA. I’m holding out hope that Hyman wants to come back to Toronto as much as the Maple Leafs should want to bring him back. And if I’m right, I think they will bring him back on a contract worth between $5 million – $7 million annually. Hyman would have to ask for a crazy amount of money for the team to let him test the market.
Martin Marincin – D
Breakdown: I still have no idea how Martin Marincin managed four separate contract extensions since the Maple Leafs acquired him from the Edmonton Oilers before the 2015-16 season. We know that the team loves their depth, but there are about a hundred similar players to Marincin out there.
That said, Marincin’s probably at a point where he loves the city enough to be content as their ninth or tenth defenseman. I don’t know why else he would keep coming back.
The Odds: 90%. I wish I could say I was joking about this, but the Maple Leafs have already brought him back on a cheap deal four times, so why wouldn’t they go for a fifth? If he’s okay spending most of his time with the Toronto Marlies as a depth option, expect Dubas to bring him back again.
Riley Nash – F
Breakdown: Nash has yet to play a game for the Maple Leafs. He’s on long-term injured reserve and isn’t expected back until the playoffs. Speculation suggests he was acquired for cap space ahead of the Foligno trade, along with some defensively responsible forward depth for the playoffs.
You know what they say: if you can’t beat them, trade for them. Nash was a member of the Boston Bruins when they knocked Toronto out of the playoffs in 2019, and he was a part of the Blue Jackets team that eliminated them in 2020.
The Odds: 40%. It’s hard to say if management will bring Nash back, considering that he hasn’t played a game yet. If he plays a pivotal role in the postseason and doesn’t demand a hefty contract, I could see them bringing him back. However, given that we don’t yet know what Hyman’s deal will look like, I’m going to assume there’s less chance that will happen.
David Rittich – G
Breakdown: This is another interesting one. David Rittich’s next contract depends on what happens to Andersen following the season. If Andersen chooses to test the market and then signs elsewhere, Dubas will likely at least make an effort to re-sign Rittich.
The Czech netminder has proven he can be an effective backup, and he’s used to the workload that the Maple Leafs would likely present him with as more of a 1B option than a traditional backup. Tandems are becoming more popular, and if the team loses Andersen, Campbell-Rittich could make an interesting duo next season.
The Odds: 60%. As I said, what the Maple Leafs do with Rittich depends on Andersen. I don’t believe Andersen is coming back next season, so the odds are over 50% in the former Flames’ favour, especially if he signs at a team-friendly cost.
Scott Sabourin – F
Breakdown: There really isn’t much to say about Sabourin’s situation. He made his Maple Leafs debut on Tuesday night against Calgary, fought Milan Lucic, and likely won’t see much playing time unless the team wants a set of fists in the playoffs.
The Odds: 20%. Dubas brought him in as a depth option, nothing more. There are tons of other players like him around the league, and assuming Sabourin wants to play regular minutes, I don’t see him re-signing in Toronto. I could be wrong. If he’s content with the same role he had this season and comes back at the league minimum, he could be worth a contract.
Wayne Simmonds – F
Breakdown: After the Maple Leafs lost Kyle Clifford to free agency in October, they promptly signed Wayne Simmonds to replace the sandpaper they wanted in their lineup. His best days are behind him, with only eight points in 25 games this season, but they didn’t sign him for offence.
We’re likely going to see the best version of Simmonds down the stretch, but it’s tough to say what the organization has in mind for him.
The Odds: 30%. I think there’s a chance the Maple Leafs bring Simmonds back. He’s a Toronto boy, he has that gritty element to his game, and I can’t imagine there will be a grocery list of teams looking to sign him. Having said that, the circumstances would have to be pretty specific to warrant his return, especially if his production stays where it is now.
Jason Spezza – F
Breakdown: I can’t say enough good things about Jason Spezza. After dealing with a coach that benched him against his former team in favour of Nick Shore for some reason, Spezza has proven that he’s still got it. With 21 points in 41 games, he’s been a leader in the dressing room and can still contribute offensively.
The Odds: 80%. Dubas placed Spezza on waivers for cap purposes earlier this season, and he essentially told other teams that he would retire if anyone claimed him. He only wants to stay in Toronto for the rest of his career, and as long as he feels he can play at least another season, I don’t see why the team wouldn’t bring him back.
Joe Thornton – F
Breakdown: When Toronto signed Jumbo Joe Thornton, it was for one reason and one reason only: to get him a Stanley Cup before he retires. At 41 years old, he’s well past his prime and was more or less signed for his leadership and experience rather than his offensive capabilities.
Having said that, Thornton’s age is starting to show, and this is likely his last season in the NHL. He only has two points in his last 21 games, and as much as I believe he has a role on the team, he likely doesn’t have another season in the tank.
The Odds: 10%. The Maple Leafs are in it for the long haul this season. This is Jumbo’s last chance at a Stanley Cup, and regardless of the outcome, he’s probably going to retire following the season.
Signing Hyman to a contract extension should be the team’s top priority this offseason. After Hyman, the next priority will be finding Jack Campbell a set-in-stone goalie partner, and after that, the UFA situation seems up in the air. Many contracts will depend on the outcome of the playoffs, so these odds are an early and rough estimate.
Alex Hobson is a third year broadcasting student at Niagara College. He has been writing about sports since 2005 and has been with The Hockey Writers since October of 2020. He covers the Toronto Maple Leafs, World Juniors, and the NHL Entry Draft, and is also part of the Maple Leafs Lounge Podcast, presented by THW. For interview requests or any other inquiries, you can follow Alex’s social media pages listed at the bottom of his articles like this one.