Penguins Should Focus on Maple Leafs Roster for Upgrades

Pittsburgh Penguins management has made it their mandate this summer to find the team some more size and toughness, and to add a veteran netminder who can push Tristan Jarry. While there are many different avenues general manager Ron Hextall and president of hockey operations Brian Burke can take to upgrade their roster, one team the Penguins should have their eye on is the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Maple Leafs have some big decisions to make this offseason as they were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs once again. The team is under a reasonable cap crunch and may have to let some players go they would otherwise keep if they had the money.

3 Maple Leafs the Penguins Should Considering Adding

Frederik Andersen

There’s been a ton of speculation over the Penguins interest in Andersen and, from all accounts, it sounds like they do have some limited interested depending on the contract demands of the free agent to be. The 31-year-old Andersen is coming off of a down season where he battled a lingering leg injury and ended up losing his starting job to Jack Campbell.

Frederik Andersen Toronto Maple Leafs
Frederik Andersen is a veteran option the Penguins need to consider (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Andersen finished with a 13-8-3 record, to go along with his 2.96 goals against average and a .895 save percentage. Certainly not his best season statistically, but that does mean his contract demands won’t be as high. Last season he made $5 million on the cap, and could come in next season slightly under this value. The Penguins won’t have a ton of money to spend this offseason and may be looking to make a trade to free up some cap space. If they end up creating some flexibility financially, the team needs to strongly consider adding Andersen to pair with Jarry.

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Andersen would be a great addition for the Penguins and give them a solid 1-2 punch with Jarry, who struggled these Stanley Cup Playoffs and was almost left out to dry. Andersen has experience playing the majority of the games as a true No. 1 netminder, but he’s also a team-first guy who is able to adapt to his playing time. While Casey DeSmith put up some decent numbers this season and is a capable backup, the team showed they needed more out of their crease to go deep in the postseason, and they have a decent option coming out of Toronto.

Zach Bogosian

The rugged defenseman is everything the Penguins are looking for when it comes to playing tough. Bogosian has a ton of Stanley Cup Playoff experience and never takes a shift off from playing extremely hard. The soon-to-be 31-year-old signed with the Maple Leafs before last season for one season at $1 million and is in line for a slight raise. With the Penguins having Cody Ceci potentially leaving for greener pastures, Bogosian could be a solid back-up plan that brings a lot of different elements to the table.

Zach Bogosian Tampa Bay Lightning
Zach Bogosian would bring a championship resume to Pittsburgh which never hurts (Photo by Scott Audette /NHLI via Getty Images)

The 6-foot-3, 226-pound defenseman could be an underrated addition for the Penguins. He has championship experience and knows what it takes to win the Cup. While he’s not going to run around and try to fight everyone on the ice, Bogosian is going to finish every one of his checks and be hard to play against. There were too many times the Penguins got tossed around last season and adding someone like the former third-overall pick would go a long way for their roster.

Wayne Simmonds

As I mentioned earlier this week as we evaluated some free-agent options from across the NHL, Simmonds‘ name came up, as it should. The Toronto-native went home to the Maple Leafs, and while his season started off rather hot, he ended up breaking his wrist after being struck with the puck, which set him back tremendously.

Wayne Simmonds Toronto Maple Leafs
Wayne Simmonds would be a nice complement to the Penguins’ bottom six (Photo by Steven Kingsman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Simmonds finished the season with seven goals and nine points in 31 games, and wasn’t shy to drop the gloves on a few occasions for teammates. The 32-year-old would be a great option for the Penguins to add to their bottom-six forward group and would bring some attributes the team could desperately use. While he’s not fleet of foot anymore, Simmonds loves to battle in the tough areas, finishes his check, and will never back down from a fight. His history with Hextall and their time with the Los Angeles Kings together will certainly influence some decision making.

The Penguins management duo won’t be leaving any stone unturned as they are trying to make some creative upgrades in their first offseason running the team. They will have some teams they are in constant contact with when it comes to trades and they should also be keeping an eye on the Maple Leafs pending free agents. If Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas let’s any of these three players walk, the Penguins need to be ready, willing, and able to get them to sign on the dotted line.

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