Free agents that could help the Leafs
While some Leaf fans are still holding their breath waiting for Shane Doan to announce he is leaving Glendale for the chilly climate of Toronto; back in reality there a few players left in the free agent pool that could provide the team with some affordable depth moving forward.
This is something so important in an 82-game season, as the Leafs saw last year, anything can happen.
The Leafs holes, in my opinion, sit at goaltending, defensive and offensive depth and a top- six player (unless Kulemin regains his offensive prowess).
The Leafs have already helped themselves with depth up front with the signing of Keith Aucoin and acquiring James Van Riemsdyk from Philadelphia, but could still use some size and grit in their bottom six.
Defensive depth is also another issue, as Burke noted last year, he had 12 defencemen play for him the year he won the Cup in Anaheim, so you can never have to many.
Obviously, goaltending is an issue but free agency could help put a little bit of an insurance policy in the net moving forward.
Here is a look at free agents the Leafs could consider to help them in these areas as the season draws closer (CBA Permitted):
Fair Offer: 2 years @ $2 million
Last Contract: 2010 Tampa Bay, 2 years @ $3 million
How he fits: The veteran netminder lost much of last season due to injury, playing in only 10 games while posting a 1-5-0 record and a 2.72 goals against average for Anaheim. Although having under-performed recently the 32-year old could serve as a backup and mentor to starting goalie James Reimer and take on 30 games in the process. Ellis has become somewhat of a journeyman in the last few years bouncing between Nashville, Tampa Bay and Anaheim, trying to rediscover the form that saw him post a 23-10-3 record and a 2.34 GAA in 07-08.
Fair Offer: 1 year @ $2.5 million
Last Contract: 2011 Edmonton, 1 year @ $3 million
How he fits: Roloson is coming a career worst season that saw his GAA balloon from 2.56 in 2010-11, to 3.66 in 11-12. The 42-year-old has shown little rust in recent years and could have another year or two left in the tank. He could again serve as a tremendous mentor to James Reimer while filling the crease for 30 to 40 games. Expect if a team does sign Roloson, it will be a one-year deal.
Fair Offer: 2 years @ $3 million
Last Contract: St. Louis 2010, 2 years @ $2.5 million
How he fits: No, no time machines here.
The 29-year-old is coming off a down year offensively that saw him put up just 19 points, and has been on a steady decrease for three seasons. Colaiacovo is known as a good puck mover but injuries have also been a problem for him. Given the right circumstance be could be a very reliable second pairing defender, should he want to come back to the team that drafted him 17th overall in 2001.
Fair Offer: 2 years @ $1.8 million
Last Contract: Tampa Bay 2010, 1 year @ $1 – 1.5 million
How he fits: The 35-year-old Saskatchewan native is on his last legs but could easily be a depth defenceman for the Leafs. The 6 foot, 190 pound defender is coming off his worst season of his career, which saw him garner a +/- rating of -26 but still managed to block 199 shots. If he could bounce back from an off-year he could prove to be very valuable to the Leafs down the road should injuries become a problem.
Fair Offer: 2 years @ $750,ooo
Last Contract: 2011 New York Rangers, 1 year @ $800,000
How he fits: Eminger was the 12th-overall pick in the 2002 entry draft and injuries have plagued him. He struggled to find his game at first, but has really found his defensive game in the last six seasons. Would fit nicely with the Leafs system as the 6-foot-2, 210-pound defender can punish opposing players.
Fair Offer: 2 years @ $2.5 – 3 million
Last Contract: 2008 Columbus, 4 years @ $4.75 million
How he fits: Huselius is coming off a hefty deal that paid him $4.75 million over 4 years. At that point, the winger was 29 and had just come off his two best seasons as a pro with the Calgary Flames, putting up 59 goals and 89 assists over that period. He only missed two games over that entire stretch. Huselius stuck with the status quo putting up 56 and 63 points respectively in his first two season in Columbus, but injuries limited him to just 41 games and 23 points over the last two seasons, and he is a risky signing regardless of the pay he will receive.
That being said, in the four full seasons that Huselius has put together, he has averaged 26 goals and 40 assists, breaking the 30 goal mark in 2006-2007.
So obviously if you can keep him healthy and keep his salary in check, he would be a welcome addition to the Leafs third line with Jay McClement and Matt Frattin. If he finds his offensive prowess again he also might eventually fit nicely on the second line with Grabovski and Clarke Macarthur or Nikolai Kulemin. The Leafs could also benefit from the experience Huselius brings as the team is lacking in terms of veteran leadership.