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After the leafs disappointing end to the season, they must quickly make decisions on the 11 players set to become FA’s on July 1.
I think we will see be a big turnover this year with most of the Maple Leafs free agents either walking or being traded. With the core of the team set for the forseeable future, I believe if Leafs management make the right moves this summer they can be looking at a possible division title next year.
Up front the leafs are most likely to let Nikolai Kulemin and Dave Bolland walk, due to the lack of production for Kulemin and the likely high asking price for Bolland. One can assume that Jay McClement will stay because of his vital role in key defensive situations for the Leafs in the past few seasons. Also Mason Raymond will most likely be staying after having a decent year with minimal ice time.
Now where the most changes need to happen…the defensive core. Seems hard to imagine any scenario where Dion Phaneuf is traded therefore you can lock him in one of those positions along side the home grown Carl Gunnarson who both remain under contract. Tim Gleason gave the back end a bit more grit and the shot blocking they could have used last year in game 7, which leaves us with 3 more spots to fill. Morgan Reilly had a fantastic rookie year and is one of the few untouchables on this roster leaving the futures of Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner in question. There have been many rumours surrounding Gardiner this season but i do believe he will resign as he had been improving as the year went on with flashes of offensive brilliance similar to other franchise defensemen around the league. Therefore Franson will be the odd man out after a very disappointing season for Cody in his own end.
That will leave one spot which needs to be filled by a solid top 3 defensemen.
Lastly, we come to the free agent James Reimer. After the way he was treated by the organization you can almost bet on the fact that you will never see him in a Leaf uniform again, opening a spot behind Bernier which needs to be filled by a goalie such as Vokoun or another solid veteran.
Other Notable FA’s: Paul Ranger (unlikely to return), Drew MacIntrye (Unlikely to return), Troy Bodie (Possible return after strong finish to season), Carter Ashton (likely to return with a 1 year deal)
Thanks for reading will be back with more offseason Leafs news, as well as playoff blogs
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