It could be a busy off-season for the Maple Leafs. Read on for the latest.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL/TORONTO STAR: At yesterday’s season-ending press conference, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis praised his club’s performance this season but suggested changes could be in the offing this summer. He singled out Phil Kessel for praise, but wouldn’t say if he would open contract talks with the winger, who next summer becomes eligible for UFA status. Nonis only said there’s no urgency to get Kessel re-signed at this point. As for Tyler Bozak, who is eligible for UFA status this summer, Nonis would only say if there’s a deal which make sense for the Leafs, they’ll re-sign him. Nonis also said at this point he expects James Reimer will be the club’s starter next season.
James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail believes Nonis could try to land another top-four defenseman though it won’t be easy given the lack of depth in this summer’s UFA market. Mirtle also believes if they add in goal, it’ll be at the backup position. If Nonis doesn’t re-sign Bozak, possible free agent options include “Derek Roy, Stephen Weiss, Valtteri Filppula, Mike Ribeiro and Matt Cullen.” It’s widely assume Nonis will use one of his two compliance buyouts on Mike Komisarek, but it remains to be seen where he’ll use his second.
TORONTO SUN: Steve Simmons believes the Maple Leafs lost their series to Boston in the faceoff circle, and believes they should consider improvement at center, suggesting Florida’s Stephen Weiss if they don’t re-sign Tyler Bozak. “The odds are, the Leafs will sign Bozak and trade Grabovski and work someone else in as a third-line centre”, writes Simmons.
VANCOUVER PROVINCE: Jason Botchford doubts the Leafs will revisit their previous interest in Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nonis will keep an eye on the trade and free agent markets, especially with the declining salary cap forcing some cap-strapped teams to dump salary. The TSN panel believe the Leafs could target New Jersey Devils winger David Clarkson, but adding him won’t address their needs for depth at center and for another top-four blueliner. Indeed, if they don’t re-sign Bozak, they’ll have to shop around for a replacement. I agree with Mirtle that the Leafs could seek an experienced backup rather than a full-time starter. Reimer’s earned the job. As for Luongo, that ship has sailed. I also don’t put any stock into talk of the Leafs moving Phil Kessel.