NHL Rumors: Toronto Maple Leafs – Matthews, Pending UFAs and RFA and Offseason Needs
Toronto Maple Leafs
On the Toronto Maple Leafs …

Sean Fitz-Gerald: Nick Kypreos on Auston Matthews: “Towards the end, Babcock lost Matthews. I don’t know what happened, but he lost him. And there was no trust anymore. And then, Matthews can’t start a hockey game. He can’t start a period. He can’t start a power-play off a TV timeout.”

Kristen Shilton: “Auston Matthews said the reports that Mike Babcock “lost him” in the playoffs are totally untrue, wasn’t pleased when he heard that in the media. Said his relationship with Babcock is good, but media will speculate as they choose.”

Terry Koshan of the Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs must improve their top-six defensive group – they must make an impactful addition.

The Leafs have six pending unrestricted free agents and it’s possible that none are back next season – James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Dominic Moore and Tomas Plekanec and defenceman Roman Polak.

van Riemsdyk likely wouldn’t be interested in a hometown discount. Bozak ride in Toronto has run out. Komarov has been replaced by youth. Plekanec was a rental. Polak can be replaced from within or through free agency/trade.

Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star: Some offseason topics that Maple Leafs will need to address.

Who will be their GM? Lou Lamoriello, Kyle Dubas or Mark Hunter.

The Maple Leafs want to sign pending RFA William Nylander to a long-term contract this offseason. Nylander may be more interested in going short-term.

Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner has a year left on their entry-level deals and can sign contract extensions this offseason. The agents for Matthews and Marner may be interested in holding off a year so their clients can build their resumes and for the salary cap to go up.

With a bit of room on their salary cap next year – in the $20 million range – how about offering John Tavares a 20 percent max one-year offer – around $16 million for one-year.

The Leafs need to improve their blue line. They have the inside track on 25-year old KHL defenseman Igor Ozhiganov. Morgan Rielly needs a more mobile defensive partner than Ron Hainsey. If they were able to acquire one of the big 2019 UFAs Drew Doughty or Erik Karlsson, it would cost Nylander or Marner in any deal. Capitals UFA defenseman John Carlson could be an option. Red Wings Mike Green would be another option.

If Tavares isn’t an option at center, maybe they could lure Joe Thornton. On the wing, Michael Grabner is a free agent.

There would be a trade market for defenseman Jake Gardiner who has a year left at $4.05 million. There doesn’t appear to be a fit with Connor Carrick and Babcock’s system, so maybe he could be moved in a deal.

@Prospects_Watch: Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos: “No goals from d-men until Dermott scored in tonight’s G7, I like Morgan Rielly, but the need a legit no.1 or no.2 d-man.”

Jason Brough: The Maple Leafs have Nikita Zaitsev, Ron Hainsey and Roman Polak (UFA) on the right side. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Chris Tanev is the exact type of player that the Maple Leafs need – a shutdown defenseman that can also move the puck.