Day one of free agency is now complete and much to the chagrin of many Leaf fans, Alex Pietrangelo is not a Maple Leaf, yet. However, Toronto did make a couple of moves that will greatly benefit the Maple Leafs both in their pockets and on the ice. Kyle Dubas was tasked with what seemed to be an improbable situation in fixing the Maple Leafs defensive core all while adding some size and toughness to their bottom six forward group. With such little cap space, Dubas was able to sign two Ontario natives, T.J Brodie and Wayne Simmonds.
The Maple Leafs signed T.J Brodie to a four year, $20 million dollar contract. In comparison, Chris Tanev who is the same age as Brodie signed a four year, $18 million dollar contract with the Calgary Flames. Brodie brings a lot more offensively than Tanev while being extremely similar defensively. I’d say the extra money is worth having a good puck moving defencemen who can also play the shutdown role which he has done in his career before.
Toronto also managed to acquire Wayne Simmonds for one year at $1.5 million dollars. This seemed to be as team friendly as a price they could get, considering Simmonds left money on the table to join the Maple Leafs.
The acquisition of both of these players do not guarantee Toronto a cup run, or even guarantee them to advance out of the first round but it does show that Dubas has recognized the issues that Toronto’s roster had last season and is slowly attempting to make a change without making drastic roster moves that so many people thought he had to do.
Simmonds is a big, physical winger who is not scared to get his hands dirty if need be. “I can play the game and I can punch your head off … anything that happens to the boys, I’ll be the first to jump in.” This is exactly the type of player Toronto’s bottom six forward group needed as he is someone who can easily play up and down the lineup both adding some skill to go with his aggressiveness. Simmonds has shown he has a scoring touch which allows him to play on the powerplay, hopefully wreaking havoc on goaltenders all season. Considering his price and what Toronto is going to need out of Simmonds this season, this was a good target for Toronto to acquire.
Brodie is a left-handed defenceman who plays on the right side. This fills an immediate hole in the Maple Leafs lineup as a top four defencemen, which they clearly lacked last season. Toronto was linked with Brodie last season before trade talks fell through and Nazeem Kadri was inevitably dealt to Colorado. Brodie is a solid defenceman who is more than capable of making smart decisions and can handle the oppositions first line. This was a key factor in why Toronto was so unsuccessful last season. They lacked true shut down defensive depth, which proved to be the Achilles heel for Toronto all season.
Dubas has done a good job thus far in free agency, in both resigning and signing talent to palatable prices. There is more to come, as it is no secret that Toronto is an uncomplete team and will have to make a few more moves before the season starts. As for now, they are trending in the right direction and Dubas has shown he is not scared to make the necessary moves.