Who is the Toronto Maple Leafs Six Million Dollar Man? The team has approximately $6 million left in cap space and still no number one goalie or fourth line. So while the holes in the bottom six won’t take up much cash, it seems the Maple Leafs are saving every penny to make a splash in free agency. But is Steve Austin out there? A secret weapon with superhuman strength, vision and speed?
This is not about Stone Cold, WWE Hall of Famer Steve Austin, for those confused. Although Toronto could use of few of those guys too. This is the Six Million Dollar Man from the 1970s TV show played by Lee Majors. It cost the U.S. government $6 million to bring this injured astronaut back to life and give him bionic implants. Although, it turned out to be a good investment as he saved the country a few times.
Now Toronto needs its own Six Million Dollar Man for any chance of going deep in the playoffs. So, who are general manager Kyle Dubas and his lead negotiator Brandon Pridham targeting with their final bit of cash?
Maple Leafs Number One Goalie
The obvious answer would be a goaltender. It looks like Toronto does not want to bring back Jack Campbell as negotiations have been next to nothing and free agency opens in just two weeks. Although Petr Mrazek is still under contract for two more years, all indications are that Toronto is moving on from him. The available netminders have been discussed ad nauseum. If you missed it, Darcy Kuemper, Ville Husso and Marc-Andre Fleury are available.
But does Toronto want to tie up its remaining cash on a number one? Colorado just proved that you can win with a tandem in the net. However, Kuemper was supposed to be the Avalanche’s number one. Husso’s experience is so limited that investing in him would be a gamble. Fleury is 37 years old, and his health would be the big question.
Maple Leafs Blue Line Could Use Steve Austin
With the signing of Timothy Liljegren, the Maple Leafs now have six defensemen with NHL contracts. However, are these the six guys who can win a Stanley Cup remains to be seen. Jake Muzzin has had injury problems. Justin Holl was on the trade block seemingly all of last season. Liljegren was outplayed in the playoffs and benched. In addition, Rasmus Sandin is yet to be signed as a restricted free agent, and Ilya Lyubushkin appears to be headed for free agency.
Some good defencemen are available, including John Klingberg (who the Leafs pass on acquiring last season), Kris Letang, Ben Chiarot and Josh Manson. While adding any of those guys would help, they are not the Victor Hedman or Cale Makar elite defenceman that can lead a team to the championship.
Maple Leafs Cannot Invest in Forwards
It’s doubtful that Toronto will be investing in another high-priced forward. This area cannot get more investment with four forwards already eating 50 percent of the team’s cap. This is unfortunate because some fantastic game-changer forwards are available, but the Maple Leafs have their own superstars.
For all the work Dubas and company have done to improve the team over the years, they’ve come up short in the net. They let Fredrik Andersen walk during the last free agency period and pursued Mrazek. Andersen had a phenomenal year in Carolina while Mrazek was a bust. Campbell surprised everyone with his performance, but he did have injury issues, and he is susceptible to losing focus and being too hard on himself. This is the position that the Maple Leafs will invest in, and they hope they find a true Six Million Dollar Man.
Kevin Armstrong is an award-winning journalist with more than two decades of experience. He’s been rink side for World Juniors, Memorial Cups, Calder Cups and Stanley Cups. Like many Canadian kids, his earliest memories include hockey. Kevin has spent countless hours in arenas throughout the country watching all levels of the game.