Since the rebuild in Toronto started, the Maple Leafs have made many roster changes. Unfortunately, as much as some things change, some also remain the same. Heading into next season the Maple Leafs lack depth in two familiar areas. If you’re a long time follower of the team, then you’ll know what I’m talking about. Depth at center and on the right side of the defense is still not where it needs to be to contend. Here is a look at the Maple Leafs depth chart for these two positions.
After Auston Matthews and team captain John Tavares, the depth at center starts to get really thin. Next on the depth chart is Alexander Kerfoot. Kerfoot has not been an upgrade over Nazem Kadri and has the Maple Leafs headed in the wrong direction. If veteran Jason Spezza is not brought back next season, the Maple Leafs will have to rely on Frederik Gauthier or Adam Brooks. Both Gauthier and Brooks are Restricted Free Agents (RFA) after this season.
If the salary cap does not go up next season due to a loss in revenue from this season being shut down, the best option for the Maple Leafs would be to bring back Spezza for another season at the league minimum $700,000. This gives the Maple Leafs time to wait for the salary cap to go up. It also allows promising junior prospect Semyon Der-Arguchintsev another season to further his development.
Right Defence Depth
All signs point to both Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci leaving as Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) after this season. That will leave the Maple Leafs with just two right-shot defensemen, Justin Holl and Timothy Liljegren. The team will lack a top pairing right shot defenseman to play alongside Morgan Rielly. RFA Travis Dermott still needs to be re-signed and it is possible that he could be moved to the right side. I just don’t know if he can handle big minutes against other team’s best players.
After the Maple Leafs sign all of their own RFA players, there will not be much salary cap space left to sign a top UFA right-handed defenseman. The only other option left is to trade for one. I don’t think Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas wants to trade away the team’s first-round pick for the third year in a row. So I wouldn’t be surprised if a player such as Dermott is paired with maybe a forward like Andreas Johnsson. The Maple Leafs will need to trade from their strengths if they are to have a chance at upgrading the right side of their defense.
Final Thoughts on Depth
The Maple Leafs have a decent core of young players and some very promising prospects in their system. However, the team is not going to go deep into the playoffs and contend if their depth is not fixed. They need to accumulate enough depth to be able to sustain any injuries. Until the depth is upgraded, the Maple Leafs will not be the contenders we want them to be.
Follow me on Twitter for more great content @Jermz13!
Follow us at @OT_Heroics for more great content!
Also, be sure to check out the Overtime Heroics Forums page to join in on the discussion!
Be sure to check out our partners at Repp Sports! They offer the first-ever crowd-sourced, no carb, no sugar, energy drink called RAZE and much more! Use the link above or add the promo code OTH1 at checkout to get 30% off your order!