The Leafs have sent out qualifying offers to Michael Carcone, Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, and Mitch Marner, doing their due diligence on some of their most talented players. Other teams have let potential gems fall through the cracks by not qualifying initial offers, and the Leafs could capitalize on these now UFA recruits added to a thin crop of available players.
A name you’ve probably never heard of, yet he had solid point production on an Arizona Coyotes team who put up the fifth-fewest points in the NHL last season. The forward, who primarily plays center but has spent time on both wings, could be a versatile forward option for the Leafs, not unlike Nic Petan.
He doesn’t offer size, as he comes in at 5’11”, 185 lbs, but that isn’t much of a priority for Dubas and his Maple Leafs. What Cousins provides is speed and the willingness to get to the dirty areas to recover the puck, two things the Buds have and continue to add. With 27 points last season, Cousins could be a cheap Connor Brown replacement that could also factor into the third line center position if Kadri is moved for a defenseman.
Arizona just picked up Carl Soderberg from the Avalanche, adding center depth and ultimately making Counsin redundant on the team. The Maple Leafs need cheap, versatile depth and he can provide this to Toronto. Oh, and he’s a former Soo Greyhound so he’s probably on Dubas’ radar!
A bit of a surprise here, but Vancouver is passing on Ben Hutton by not offering him a contract to maintain RFA negotiating rights. The 26-year-old, Canadian defenseman had a solid year with the Canucks last season and outside of his handedness is everything the Leafs need to add.
I say fuck your lefty/righty balance, Babcock! A 6’2″, 206 lb defenseman who bagged 20 points last season is available on the free agent market, get out of your own head and start recruiting! Dubas ultimately makes the decision and if the price is right I would expect him to be in on Hutton.
The big kicker is “IF” the price is right. His size, offensive production, and age are all positives that will attract buyers. Hutton would also be a great competitive player to bring in to challenge Travis Dermott (once healthy) for his position on the team. Should he value winning and term over the upfront dollar value of a contract then Dubas can play ball.
Maybe the most well-known name on this three-player list, Markus Granlund is another Vancouver player kicked to the curb without a qualifying offer. The 26-year-old forward has been around the league with the Canucks and Flames for seven seasons and could be a solid option for the Leafs as an up-and-down-the-lineup type player.
Again, if the Leafs trade Nazem Kadri for a top pairing defenseman Granlund is the perfect option for a third-line center. He averaged 15:02 TOI last season and managed 22 points showing that he can be effective with cut minutes. With Zach Hyman out for the start of the season, too, he could be a left wing option to open the campaign.
Granlund is coming off of a $1.45 million contract. With as limited cap space as the Leafs have they could match this or even provide him with a slight pay raise to get him to sign. None of these signings are massive or team altering but they would all be welcomed additions to what could end up being a radically different team than last season.