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Maple Leafs Missed On a Big-Ticket Defenseman This Season

Before signing William Nylander to a long-term contract, it is being reported that the Toronto Maple Leafs missed on a big-ticket defenseman.

The original deadline strategy for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season seemingly revolved around trying to go big and add to the blue line. Based on comments from Elliotte Friedman on the latest 32 Thoughts podcast, it sounds like that plan didn’t turn out as hoped. As a result, the team went ahead and signed William Nylander to a lucrative long-term deal and at this season’s deadline, Toronto might settle for hitting “singles and doubles.”

Friedman noted:

“I think before they committed to signing [William] Nylander, they were going over and they went everywhere in the league and said, ‘Is there a defenseman making Nylander’s money or close to it that we can replace it, and those players, they’re not available.”

As the NHL insider points out, Toronto didn’t find the player they felt they needed to make a real impact. Whether it was Noah Hanifin or Chris Tanev out of Calgary, or taking swing on a player like Jakob Chychrun out of Ottawa, ultimately, the player wasn’t available. Since the team couldn’t add what they deemed to be a top-notch defenseman, they moved forward on the Nylander deal and now it sounds like Toronto will be reshaping the roster around Nylander, Auston Matthews and a couple of other key assets.

William Nylander Brad Treliving
William Nylander Brad Treliving

To some fans, this news is long-overdue. To others, it’s concerning. In one way, it sounds like the team might be throwing in the towel on the season and big changes will be tough to do considering the huge contracts the team is tied to over the next couple of seasons.

Maple Leafs Realize This Roster Needs to Change

The reset, if Friedman is correct with his prediction, will start this offseason and really take shape in the next two years. Toronto can easily say goodbye to players like Tyler Bertuzzi and Ilya Samsonov this summer, but it will be two offseasons from now that both of the contracts for John Tavares and Mitch Marner will be up. Those are two huge potential changes that would greatly impact how this roster is constructed.

The salary cap will continue to climb and with big-money deals off of the books, the organization can re-shift who they’re thinking about heavily investing in. Friedman said during the show:

“I think Toronto’s thinking bigger picture. I don’t think this is about this year anymore I think they’re thinking about where they’re going. I really wonder if deep down that is an organization is saying we are not good enough to win this year we are resetting and we are reshaping our roster and we’re going to do that.”

Next: ESPN’s P.K. Subban Blasted For Brutal Take On Oilers’ Recent Success



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