In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at the possibility of Rasmus Sandin being offer-sheeted by another team. I’ll also look at a small number of former Maple Leafs’ players who are now free agents and wonder if there might be any taste on the Maple Leafs’ part to invite them back to the Blue and White?
Finally, I’ll wonder why the Florida Panthers dumped interim head coach Andrew Brunette to hire ex-Maple Leafs coach Paul Maurice.
Item One: Rasmus Sandin Makes Frank Seravalli’s List of Offer Sheet Candidates
The Maple Leafs probably did well to re-sign Timothy Liljegren before the July 13 beginning of free agency. Now, do they have anything to worry about with Rasmus Sandin? The question has to do with the fact that Sandin recently made Frank Seravalli’s list of offer-sheet candidates – in fact, quite high up at number 3.
As Seravalli puts it, Sandin is a defenseman who can easily become a top-six pairing; and, a salary offer of somewhere over $4 million but under $4.2 million a season would put the Maple Leafs in so much of a bind that they might be forced to walk away. If that happened, the team would only get a second-round pick as compensation.
Hardly fair, it would seem for a player of Sandin’s obvious talent and potential. On the surface, because we don’t know more, after Liljegren was re-signed for $1.4 million per season the next obvious step would be to re-sign Sandin for about a similar amount. That amount might even be a bit more because I believe the Maple Leafs view Sandin as having as much or more upside as Liljegren.
Related: Rod Gilbert: Mr. Ranger
The bottom line is that, first, an offer sheet to Sandin would complicate life for the Maple Leafs. Second, there Sandin sits on Seravalli’s list. Third, there’s been no announcement of a Sandin re-sign by the team. Very interesting.
Item Two: Does Tyler Bozak Have Anything Left in His Tank?
Every so often in the conversation section of a post, the name Tyler Bozak comes up. He left the Maple Leafs on July 1, 2018, just prior to my start covering the team in November of that year. But he’s a fan favorite for many who follow the team.
Now at 36 years of age, Bozak is finishing a one-year contract at NHL league minimum of $750,000 with the St. Louis Blues. Last season, in 50 games in 2021-22, he scored two goals and added 10 assists (for 12 points). While he might not be the Maple Leafs answer to what Jason Spezza did for the team during his tenure as a player, depending on the vision that Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dugas has for the fourth line, might he be a fit?
In truth, as a fan, I’d love to see an exclusively young fourth line made up of this last season’s Toronto Marlies’ players like 20-year-old Nick Robertson, 22-year-old Alex Steeves, 22-year-old Curtis Douglas, 23-year-old Nick Abruzzese, 23-year-old Pontus Holmberg, and 24-year-old Joey Anderson. To me, that would be fun.
But that might not be in the Maple Leafs’ plans. If the team wants some veteran stability on the fourth line without paying an arm and a leg, might they consider Bozak? He didn’t have a great 2021-22 season, but if he’s remembered well by the Maple Leafs, who knows? He was obviously willing to play at the league minimum prior to last season. Still, he might also be ready to retire.
That said, he won a Stanley Cup in 2019 with the Blues; and, after playing nine seasons in Toronto, he might want to get on board for another run at the prize. I know a lot of fans who’d love to see him in the Blue and White for one last season.
Item Three: BTW, Where’s Alex Galchenyuk These Days?
Except for the egregious turnover against the Montreal Canadiens that cost the team a game in the 2021 postseason, Alex Galchenyuk’s tenure with the Maple Leafs seemed to go quite well. Both the team and fans seemed to like his play. He did play for Team USA in the World Championships in May 2022.
Speculation is that, after having the opportunity to get his career back on track with the team, Galchenyuk or his agent played hardball in contract talks. Those talks broke down, and Galchenyuk eventually took his services to the open market. The best he could do was a league-minimum contract with the Arizona Coyotes. There he played 60 games, scoring six goals and 15 assists (for 21 points). Not rousing numbers.
He’s 28 years of age and obviously willing to play these days for the league minimum. The Maple Leafs, ironically, replaced Galchenyuk’s services by signing Nick Ritchie. We know how that worked out, and Ritchie landed as a teammate to Galchenyuk at the end of last season.
Is there any chance the Maple Leafs and Galchenyuk might find common ground this offseason? It seems more and more likely that Alex Kerfoot will be moved and replaced with someone cheaper. And, Galchenyuk did spend some time on the second line with John Tavares and William Nylander.
Hockey is a business, and might Galchenyuk be welcomed back?
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
Sometimes I find the moves that NHL teams make confusing. Specifically, why would the Florida Panthers dump Andrew Brunette? It was his first season of coaching, but he did a good enough job to help his team win the President’s Trophy. But he’s gone. The team obviously played well for him.
Just the other day, the Panthers hired ex-Maple Leafs’ (and more recently Winnipeg Jets) coach Paul Maurice as their new head coach. Nothing wrong in my eyes with hiring Maurice, except that they dumped Brunnette to do it.
Now, where will Brunette land?
The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf