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Maple Leafs Missed Out on Difference-Making Free Agent Blueliner

The Toronto Maple Leafs missed out on a key free agent blueliner when they tried to sign but lost Matt Roy to the Washington Capitals.

It was recently revealed that the Toronto Maple Leafs were pursuing top defenseman Matt Roy, but ultimately, he signed a six-year, $34.5 million contract with the Washington Capitals. The news, shared by insider Chris Johnston, highlighted Roy as a significant target who slipped through Toronto’s grasp. Ultimately, he got more than the Maple Leafs could afford and the Leafs chose to go another direction.

“Had the Leafs been able to get Matt Roy…” Johnston started. “I just don’t think the Leafs could do that financially, and good for him.”

Matt Roy Maple Leafs

On the SDPN podcast on July 8, Johnston added:

“I think Matt Roy was a little bit of the one that got away. They were interested in Brady Skjei, but it was clear early on that wasn’t going to be it. They called on [Brett] Pesce, but I didn’t get a sense that was ever close. Roy was a big target.”

Roy’s signing with the Capitals marks a considerable addition to Washington’s defensive core. It’s obvious why the Maple Leafs were interested. Last season with the Los Angeles Kings, Roy recorded 25 points in 81 games and contributed two points in five playoff games. Throughout his six-year NHL career, spent entirely with the Kings, he has established himself as a reliable right-side defenseman, known for his ability to log significant minutes and limit offensive opportunities for opponents.

The Leafs Could Have Used Roy vs. What They Did

The Maple Leafs signed a handful of players in free agency, but there are mixed reactions to what they did. The big splash was Chris Tanev, who is an ideal fit, but some believe was overpaid. Oliver-Ekman-Larsson adds tremendous experience, but his term of four years is questionable. Jani Hakanpaa isn’t even officially signed as the team looks over his medical situation before making that deal official.

Johnston highlighted the impact Roy could have had on the Maple Leafs’ blue line. “If you look at what he does, if you would have added Tanev and Roy, that is significant for your top four.” He adds, “That is literally two guys that play the right side that really can eat minutes and not a lot happens (offensively for the other team) when they are on the ice. You are talking about a different blue line. The Leafs, defensively, it has been a problem.”

If the Leafs don’t end up securing a deal with Hakanpaa, or he can’t play because of his knee, Toronto’s search for blue-line help continues. Landing a solid right-side defenseman remains a priority as they head into the 2024-25 season. With Roy now off the market and set to strengthen the Capitals, the Leafs will have to face him as an opponent rather than a teammate. They may be regularly reminded of what they weren’t able to do this summer.

Next: 3 Reasons Timmins Needs a Chance to Make the Maple Leafs Roster

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. B Arden

    July 11, 2024 at 4:36 pm

    This is the 10th article I’ve read on how Roy was “the one that got away,” which implies that the Leafs had an opportunity to get him and didn’t. Yet, no one seems to mention the contract he signed. Clearly, Tanev was option # 1 all along. With what phantom money were the Leafs going to pay Roy the 5.75 million annually he received in Washington? he didn’t “get away;” the Leafs simply didn’t have the money to sign him. My bet is that IF they had the cap space, he’d be a Leaf today.

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