Toronto was back to work on the second day of free agency and added some help to their blue line. The team announced they had signed Defensemen Viktor Mette and Jordie Benn both for one season worth a league minimum at $750,000. Let’s start with discussing the Jordie Benn add to the roster. Benn who is 34 played last season as a member of the Minnesota Wild where he would appear in 39 games and collect 8 points, I know many people will look at the point total and think this is terrible but remember the position Benn plays. For me when I look at defencemen point production is secondary of course if you get points from your blueline that’s great but priority number one is how well do they play their position and Jordie Benn is a guy that plays with a physical edge and like to make things difficult on his opponent when they’re in his end of the rink, but he also has a hard shot. Toronto needs right-handed defence and according to Cap Friendly both players can play either the right or left side so in my opinion Benn and Mette will spend this season bouncing in and out of the lineup stepping in and playing the necessary side when its needed.
As mentioned, Victor Mete also joins the Leafs, and the Leafs are familiar with his play because of playing against him numerous times when he was a member of the Montreal Canadiens and last season playing in Ottawa. Last season with the Sens Mete would register 7 assists in 37 games played. Mete being only 5’9”is considered to be undersized but after looking around trying to find scouting reports everyone that I have found said that he has good speed and we know this team likes to use their speed while moving the puck and although him being undersized can see him get knocked off the puck his speed allows him to easily jump back into the play, but Mete’s strength is his transition game and with Victor being 24 his speed will help him keep pace with Toronto’s young talent and he will likely collect a respectable amount of points when on the ice with so many elite players.
Now, the big question for the Toronto Maple Leafs is what happens now? With these two newest contracts signed the Leafs only have approximately $560,000 in cap space. In the offseason teams are allowed to be 10% over the salary cap untill I believe the night before the leagues season opens, I could be mistaken on that because it is the NHL and many of their rules are confusing. Regardless, the Leafs still intend on signing Forward Pierre Engvall and Defender Rasmus Sandin but to do so they need to move a player or two out. Some of the obvious names are Alex Kerfoot who is in the final year of his contract at $3,500,000 and yesterday when free agency opened there was a report from Frank Seravali that Toronto was taking offers on Kerfoot but the team still thought he has a lot to bring with his versatility throughout the lineup so I think it’s likely Kerfoot is a member of the Leafs come opening night in October but as well all know anything can happen. The next option and I think the one that is the most likely to move is Justin Holl. He is also in the final year of his contract with a $2,000,000 price tag and at the time of me writing this there are several insiders are saying that Toronto is aggressively shopping for a buyer for Holl’s services, but Justin does have a modified no trade clause where he has to give a list of ten teams that he would be willing to go too. After the season where Toronto finished first in the Canadian Division as the NHL played through the Covid pandemic Justin Holl’s play had generated a lot of interest from teams around the league. He finished that season with 20 points in 55 games, but teams were reportedly very high on his defensive play. However, that summer as the team headed into the Seattle Expansion Draft the team decided to protect him from a Seattle claim. With teams remaining interested in trading for Justin Holl it is understandable seeing as last year he registered 23 points in 69 games that also saw him register a +14 rating.
Lastly, and for some reason this is the player that Leaf fans want moved the most, but Jake Muzzin. The Woodstock Ontario native managed a total of 14 points battled injuries throughout the year only dressing in 47 regular season games after unfortunately suffering two concussions. I can understand fans wanting Muzzin traded, there’s injury concern but Muzzin has a full no move clause that does not become a modified one untill July 1st of next year. Obviously, Jake can waive this but if Jake Muzzin is healthy, he is a difficult defenceman to play against because he loves to make his presence known with big hits, but he can also produce when it comes to points. To the Leaf fans that I have seen practically begging for Muzzin to be moved if he is in fact traded there is a very strong chance that because of the concussions teams will fee he is “damaged goods” and Kyle Dubas in my opinion Kyle Dubas would have to retain a portion of Muzzin’s salary so unless he is dealt to the Arizona Coyotes who need money just to get to the cap floor there’s no other team that will take on his full $5,625,000 price tag so we don’t know how much cap relief the Leafs would get in a potential Jake Muzzin trade which is why I believe Justin Holl at $2,000,000 is the likely candidate to be dealt because his salary is the more tradeable one.
Well, it is close to midnight now, so I am calling it a night so thanks as always for reading and of course if any news breaks in Leaf land I’ll have an article talking about but also keep an eye on my twitter feed @BFTBBlogger.
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