Toronto Maple Leafs: Predictions for Unrestricted Free Agents
The Toronto Maple Leafs' season is just about over. Mathematically, they are still in the playoff picture, but the grim truth is that this will make it seven years since the Leafs had their last playoff appearance. With their season all but done, the management will begin looking at the upcoming free agents for 2012. There are a total of 19 players becoming free agents, but only six are unrestricted.
The following slides will take a look at predictions for which of the six upcoming unrestricted free agents will be re-signing with Toronto, and which will be looking for a new place to play.
Looking at who will become unrestricted this summer, MLSE has a few decisions to make. Some will be harder than others, and some could have more of an impact on the future of the organization.
HockeyDB helped provide a more comprehensive view of what management will be looking for when deciding which of the players they will either sign or let walk. This insight will include the potential of some of the players, who have little NHL experience, by looking at their minor league stats.
Dupuis is currently playing for the AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies after being bumped down from the Maple Leafs roster earlier this season. He played 30 games with them and did not record a single point. In his 34 games with the Marlies, he has managed 10 goals and 16 assists with a plus-10 rating.
While he is still fairly young at 26, it is doubtful that his stats this year as a Leaf or a Marlie will be enough to have management consider re-signing him. More likely than not, Dupuis will be in a different jersey next season.
The 28-year-old right-winger has played a total of 61 games this season, with 10 goals and 12 assists thus far, keeping him in the middle of the roster for points.
That's not to say he is a bad player—in fact, Crabb is tied with Clarke MacArthur for the second most game-winning goals. They both have four, behind Kessel's six.
Crabb tends to play a more defensive game and has recently been utilized by Carlyle with Steckel and Connolly as a shut-down line against the opponent's top lines, where he seems to be coming into his own.
As he did last season, Crabb began the year with the Marlies, before being recalled to the Toronto Maple Leafs, having scored seven goals and 15 points in nine games with the AHL team.
Crabb has stated that he wants to return to Toronto next season, and it would not be surprising to see this unrestricted free agent get another contract for one or two more years.
Jeff Finger's tale for a new contract was played out earlier this season, when on October 12th the Toronto Maple Leafs placed the upcoming unrestricted free agent on waivers before being sent to the AHL.
His $3.5 million dollar contract, from 2008, would have been another big hit against the Leafs' cap this season had he not cleared waivers. He is now one of the higher-paid minor league players.
Finger has been unable to live up to his contract since he was signed by Cliff Fletcher, and for that reason alone, it is very doubtful he will be returning to the Leafs next season in any form.
Having to be drafted twice, first by Buffalo in 1999 then Carolina in 2001, Zigomanis' career has largely been in the minors. In 2009 he tried out for the Marlies prior to playing in Europe for a year. The following year he signed a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
At 31, this unrestricted free agent's only real impact comes from his face-off ability that helped get his name on the Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh. However, his last two seasons in the AHL have seen him doing quite well—he currently leads the Marlies with 59 points this season.
The experience he does possess would be an asset for the Leafs' organization, and he should be given a tryout at the preseason.
More likely than not, the way he has played for the Marlies over the last two seasons should see the Leafs re-sign Zigomanis during the off-season.
The 26-year-old left-winger is second to Zigomanis in points for the Marlies with 47. This was enough for him to be called up this season to fill in for injuries for two games, where he managed to gain an assist.
He is the current Marlies captain, and played in the AHL All-Star Game. This season, Hamilton has really come into his own, and head coach Dallas Eakins felt he was deserving of the chance to play with the Maple Leafs.
He has had to overcome a number of injuries during his career, and this will be the first season with the Marlies that he has been able to play the majority of the season.
After showing what he can do while healthy with the Marlies, Toronto will probably try to re-sign Hamilton and give him a try out during the preseason.
Not going to happen.
Its unfortunate, but the reality is that Gustavsson won't be with the Maple Leafs next season.
He's had one of his best seasons, and kept the Leafs in contention for the playoffs while Reimer was injured.
Having played in seven more games than Reimer, he still holds a marginally better save percentage with .904, and a 2.87 goals against average.
With Toronto's recent abysmal play, they realize they need a new No. 1 goalie. When it comes down to it, simply put—Reimer has a contract, and Gustavsson does not.