5 Unrestricted Free Agents the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Pursue

James Onusko@@jonuskoContributor IIIJune 11, 2014

5 Unrestricted Free Agents the Toronto Maple Leafs Should Pursue

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    Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are unlikely to be major players in the free-agent market this summer, but there are a few players who would make sense for various reasons.

    Other than in goal, the Leafs need upgrades at every position. Yes, there are good prospects in the organization, but many of those players are years away from being impact NHL players.

    A lot will hinge on which players president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Dave Nonis decide to retain.

    Let's take a look at five potential unrestricted free agents who would help the Leafs.

Paul Stastny, Centre

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    Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

    The Leafs have acute needs at the centre-ice position. While Paul Stastny is not the biggest or fastest pivot in the game, he would become the No. 1 centre for the Leafs.

    Paired with fellow Americans Phil Kessel and James Van Riemsdyk, the trio would form an effective attacking unit.

    Stastny is a good leader and teammate. He's still at, or near, the peak of his game. He posted 60 points in the regular season and another 10 in seven playoff games.

    He could be one of the hotter commodities on the market this summer if he doesn't re-sign with the Colorado Avalanche.

Mikhail Grabovski, Centre

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Mikhail Grabovski's first turn in Toronto ended in a contract buyout, but signing the talented centre from Belarus would make sense for the Leafs.

    He is a gritty two-way player who has put up very good Corsi numbers, per Extraskater.com, at the NHL level.

    While Grabovski would not fill a first-line role, he could be a solid No. 2 centre or serve as one of the league's best in a third-line role.

    The Leafs should be giving serious consideration to the player who put up 35 points in 58 games with the Capitals this past season.

Jarome Iginla, Right Wing

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Jarome Iginla will have a line of potential suitors. The Leafs should think long and hard about signing one of the game's best power forwards from the last decade.

    While he is no longer playing his best hockey, he would be an instant leader in Toronto.

    He is a true professional in that he plays every shift like it is his last. He would be an inspiration on a team that seems to lack leadership at times.

    He put up 61 points last season, and in a top-six role in Toronto, he could duplicate that, if not even improve upon it, in 2014-15.

Ales Hemsky, Right Wing

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    Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

    Ales Hemsky does not get enough credit as an offensive force or as someone who will get his nose dirty.

    The talented Czech winger was great in Ottawa, despite the Senators not enjoying team success this season.

    The former Edmonton Oilers star was the consummate pro in that he never complained about his role and endured a series of letdowns with grace in the Alberta capital.

    Hemsky has a few good seasons left in him. Quite simply, he would be hungry for success.

    He could be a top-six player in Toronto.

    His 17 points in 20 games with the Senators this year indicate that he has a lot left in the tank.

Andrei Markov, Defenceman

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Andrei Markov is 35 years old now, but with his high level of play in 2013-14, seeing him play at least another two years would be unsurprising.

    Markov had 43 points in the regular season. He also tallied 10 points in 17 playoff games. He is a punishing hitter who would serve as a great bridge player for the Leafs until some of the young, talented defenders are ready for top-pairing minutes.

    He can play regularly against top-six forwards and hold his own.

    If the contract makes sense for the Leafs, the club should be giving Markov a lot of consideration.


    All stats can be found on nhl.com unless otherwise noted.

    All salary information is from capgeek.com unless noted otherwise.