It was a disappointing 2013-14 season for head coach Randy Carlyle and the Toronto Maple Leafs. They ended up 38-36-8 (84 points) losing their last four game of the season and going 2-8-0 over their last 10.
With yet another late season collapse, the Maple Leafs’ front office decided it was time for change. The team hired former chief player disciplinarian and hockey Hall of Famer, Brendan Shanahan as its new team president and alternate governor to help get the Leafs back to the postseason.
With only 12 players on payroll, Shanahan has some decisions to make this offseason on who to sign.
Dave Bolland (UFA)
Bolland played in only 23 games due to injury, but registered 12 points (8 goals, 4 assists) in those games. The fact that he has won two Stanley Cups in Chicago and was a mainstay as a third-line center in the Blackhawks lineup his whole career cannot be ignored. (He also scored the cup-clinching goal in 2013). He is asking for $5 million annually, something Shanahan and the Leafs can afford.
Mason Raymond (UFA)
Raymond was an aberration this past season. He was signed last minute to a 1 year/$1M contract and he produced numbers (19 goals, 26 assists) that outshined bigger money players like David Clarkson and Joffrey Lupul. The left-winger will still be an inexpensive sign, but Shanahan should give him a multi-year deal.
Peter Holland (RFA)
Acquired last year in a trade with Anaheim for two picks in the upcoming draft, Holland spent most of the 2013-14 season with the big club, posting 5 goals and 5 assists in 39 games. He projects to be an effective fourth-line centerman in the NHL and the Leafs gave up two picks to get him to Toronto. Depth at the center spot is shallow in Toronto, so a multi-year deal seems imminent.
Jake Gardiner (RFA)
There have been rumors Carlyle “dislikes” the 23-year-old blueliner, but Carlyle has refuted those comments. It seems odd, considering he produced 31 points (10 goals, 21 assists) and was only a -3. Those numbers should only go up with Gardiner getting more ice-time on the power play. Gardiner is a coveted young defenseman so Shanahan needs to make a qualifying offer before July 1 when he will have to decide whether to match whatever offer other teams make, or let him walk.
He is not a free agent, but his name has been cycling around the trade rumor mill for a year. There was no deal in place at last year’s trade deadline, but it seems the Maple Leafs’ brass is still shopping him. The $7 million/ year that the Leafs’ captain is owed over the next 7 years gives a lot of teams pause, but there are still some interest (Colorado, Dallas, and Edmonton among them) in the 29-year-old D-man.
Phaneuf’s leadership has been in question and stripping his “C” has been discussed. That does not seem like a solution, and neither does trading him. He is a veteran guy on a very young blueline. Getting rid of him would mean acquiring one in a trade for him (none of the above have much to give) or trying to find one via free agency.