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Who's in and Who's Out in Toronto

It's a Canadian Game


blog-0142374001404407465.jpgNHL’s free agent frenzy kicked off Tuesday with a big bang.

Though they didn’t make a number of monumental moves when the signing period began, the Toronto Maple Leafs did dabble in the action and also said farewell to other bodies.

So with this the Toronto Maple Leafs are already looking to be a different group of players when they take to the ice next season.

The Leafs transactions first began last Saturday when they sent defenseman Carl Gunnarsson to the St. Louis Blues for fellow tough-guy, defenseman Roman Polak. Gunnarsson had been with the Leafs for the last five seasons and had spent the majority of his time playing on the top pairing alongside Dion Phaneuf.

After leading the team with a +12 this season, the Leafs shipped him out as they looked to bring in someone with more physicality in his game, something a lot of the Leafs’ defense core lacked.

The Leafs then made another move via free agency Tuesday to try and bolster their defense core. The buds signed veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas to a three-year three million dollar deal. The 37 year-old is coming off a season where he broke his leg twice.

Despite these injuries Robidas played great for Anaheim when he was healthy, putting up 10 points in just 38 games. Robidas claims right now to be at 95% and says that come the season’s start he will be 100% ready to go and injuries will not be an issue.

In an interview with TSN’s James Duthie, after signing with the Maple Leafs Tuesday, Robidas mentioned that early talks with management suggest possibly playing alongside either Jake Gardiner or Morgan Reilly, but until the season finally starts we can only speculate.

The other two additions to the Leafs roster that were made saw Dave Nonis bring back fellow Maple Leafs Matt Frattin and Finish pest Leo Komarov. The two acquisitions are interesting because both players played on the Maple Leaf team that made the playoffs two season ago, before losing in dramatic fashion to the Boston Bruins.

Frattin had a fairly unimpressive campaign this last season recording just seven points in 44 games split between the Los Angeles Kings and Columbus Blue Jackets. While Komarov put up a respectable 34 points in 52 games for Dynamo Moscow in the KHL, while also representing Finland in the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Leafs are hoping the two can help bring a bit more grit and speed, something the organization feels they had two years ago.

Now besides the names that the Leafs brought in over the past week, what might be just as interesting or worth noting is the names that they saw go elsewhere.

The biggest of these names is obviously that of the Mimico native, Dave Bolland. Though Bolland claimed to wanting to stay in Toronto, eventually he decided to take his services to Florida, signing a five year contract paying him $5.5 million per season.

Though he played just 23 games for the Leafs last season, Bolland was a force for them especially before he suffered his Achilles injury that kept him out of the lineup for 56 games.

Wednesday the Maple Leafs also saw defensive forwards Jay McClemment sign a one-year deal with the Carolina Hurricanes while Nikolai Kulemin signed an extensive four-year $16.75 million contract with the New York Islanders. This will leave some holes on the Leafs penalty kill, though Komarov will likely see playing time there.

Now some other interesting loses to the organization come at the hands of the Marlies and players that could very well have pushed for a roster spot with the Maple Leafs next season. Those names are AHL defenseman of the year T.J. Brennan and arguably the top goaltender in the AHL playoffs this past year, Drew McIntyre, who may now get chances elsewhere.

Brennan has always proved himself to be a very offensive defenseman in the AHL and 2013-14 was no exception. The 25 year-old amassed 25 goals and 72 points in 76 games this season, most among all defenseman in the league. Brennan has only played 40 NHL games spread over three NHL seasons with the Buffalo Sabres and Florida Panthers. In their search for a more stellar defense core its interesting the Maple Leafs would allow the best defenseman in the AHL to go for nothing. Brennan signed a one year deal with the Islanders on Tuesday.

McIntyre lead the Marlies to the Western Conference finals this year, giving up just 29 goals in 14 games, putting up a 0.944 save percentage and a 2.08 goals against average. The 31 year-old McIntyre could have been a reliable backup to Jonathan Bernier and likely for a good price. Both good things for the Leafs as rumours have swirled that James Reimer has asked for a trade and with the news that the current restricted free agent has filed for salary arbitration. McIntyre was picked up by the Hurricanes on a one-year, two-way deal.

In other news this weekend former Montreal Canadiens’ defenseman, now with the Sabres, Josh Gorges, was going to be shipped to Toronto, but Gorges refused to waive his no-trade clause to come to Toronto. The deal is believed to have been for Cody Franson, this likely means the Maple Leafs are looking to trade the large dman. Franson is currently an RFA and will have to either be signed or moved by the team.

The Maple Leafs are most certainly not done this off season and more moves can be expected to be made, whether it’s to either further improve their back end or to try and look for a top-six centre. Either way, so far it looks like there will be some different faces dawning the blue and white next season and a few old ones.

Follow me on Twitter @Craig_Hagerman


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I think the Leafs didn't do enough during free agency.  Their D got older and slower with the acquisition of Robidas and center is still an issue.  


I have to wonder if players snubbed the Leafs because of Shanahan?

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When it comes to their D, I don't think their a lot slower, I mean Gunnarrson was never very quick, and Gleason definitely was no speed freak, but well see what happens.


I don't think it's Shanahan turning people away, I think it's the lack of success with the team the past few years. 

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 I expect things to tighten up in the East. The Leafs finished ahead of the Canes and the Isles last year, and both teams made moves to improve. The Islanders in particular, will be a better squad, almost guaranteed. Two top 6 forwards added in Grabovski and Kulemin. Two new goalies in Halak and Johnson, this team is ready to climb in the standings.

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