The Toronto Maple Leafs made a no-risk move yesterday (Sept. 7), signing Noah Gregor to a professional tryout (PTO) contract. The gritty winger will now aim to impress at training camp and earn himself a spot in the Maple Leafs’ bottom six in the process. However, it also would not hurt for the Maple Leafs to bring in at least one more player on a PTO before the start of the preseason. Let’s go over three more players whom the Maple Leafs should consider signing to a PTO now.
Tyler Motte would be a solid player for the Maple Leafs to sign to a PTO. The Michigan native spent this past season split between the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers, posting eight goals and 19 points in 62 games. Overall, this was decent production in a bottom-six role, but Motte made more of a difference when it came to his defensive play and penalty-killing. With that, he made an impact with his physicality, recording 118 hits.
Overall, Motte is consistently an impactful energy player in a bottom-six role. He also offers excellent versatility, being able to play all three forward positions. With the Maple Leafs needing more forward depth and physicality, perhaps taking a look at Motte on a PTO would be worthwhile. If signed, he would be a perfect fit on their fourth line and be a notable addition to their penalty kill.
If the Maple Leafs want a depth forward who produces offensively in a bottom-six role, Derick Brassard stands out as a solid PTO choice. The 35-year-old center may not be the top-six center he was during his prime, but he was still effective with the Senators last season. In 62 games played, he posted 13 goals and 23 points. He also played a more physical game in 2022-23, recording 90 hits.
Latest News & Highlights
Heading into the 2023-24 season, the Maple Leafs’ fourth-line center spot is up for grabs. At this juncture, it appears that Dylan Gambrell is the frontrunner for the role, but it would not hurt to give him some competition with Brassard. At worst, Brassard would be a serviceable depth forward who could slot in the second power-play unit if signed. Due to this, he is a veteran whom the Maple Leafs should truly consider taking a shot on.
The possibility of Zach Aston-Reese returning to the Maple Leafs on a PTO should not be ruled out, either. Aston-Reese proved to be an effective fourth-line forward for the Maple Leafs last season, posting 10 goals and 14 points in 77 games. Although his offensive production was not high, his strong defensive play made him a strong option for the Maple Leafs’ penalty kill. He also left a big impact with his physicality, as he recorded a notable 163 hits. These elements of his game could be enough for the Maple Leafs to take another look at him at training camp.
When looking at the Maple Leafs’ current roster, it is fair to argue that Aston-Reese is plenty good enough to compete for a fourth-line spot. He would at least be a nice option for the 13th forward role if signed and with how often injuries occur in the NHL, this should be considered.
Alas, it will be interesting to see if the Maple Leafs decide to bring in another player on a PTO before training camp begins. Although Gregor certainly has a chance to earn a contract with the team, there would be no harm in the Maple Leafs also trying out Motte, Brassard, and Aston-Reese, too. We will need to wait and see if they do just that.