The Maple Leafs: Analyzing Options As July 1st Free Agent Frenzy Begins

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IJuly 1, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - NOVEMBER 7:  Francois Beauchemin #23 of the Anaheim Ducks looks to make a pass play during their NHL game against the Dallas Stars at the Honda Center on November 7, 2008 in Anaheim, California. The Stars defeated the Ducks 5-2. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

As the Calendar shifts from June to July, and Canadians celebrate Canada Day in their various fashions, the NHL gets ready for a little something they call, "free agent frenzy."

While many fans in Leafs Nation would prefer the club didn't sign too many high profile free agents, it looks like Brian Burke will be active.  The Leafs' GM has stated he will spend to the cap, and has a good chunk of change to work with.

Still, there is no doubt that the Maple Leafs must stay the course.  

Something is happening in Toronto.  Like it or not, this team is rebuilding, and they have taken steps in the right direction.  Are they giant steps?  Not really, but it's progress, and that's a positive sign.

Still, in the salary cap era, and with the structure of the current CBA, there is still a time and place for a rebuilding team to sign unrestricted free agents.  The key is spending wisely.

And with that, I present my list of this years players I think would be a good fit on the Toronto Maple Leafs.  

Note that I am not saying these players will all sign with the Maple Leafs.  In fact, I am not saying any of them will, but these are the players I think could find themselves in Blue and White next season, in no particular order.

Mattias Ohlund

He will be 33-years-old, by the time next season starts.  Ohlund is a player who Brian Burke is very familiar with, a factor that is prominent on this list.

Ohlund is a solid two-way defenseman who is steady on the back end, while contributing twenty to thirty points a season.  Ohlund was also an impressive plus fourteen last season with the Canucks.

Ohlund made $3.5 million last season with Vancouver, and with the likely departure of Tomas Kaberle and Pavel Kubina, that is a number the Leafs will be able to live with.

Mike Cammalleri

A Toronto-area native, Cammalleri will be twenty eight by the time next season starts, and is coming off a career year with the Calgary.

Cammalleri scored thirty nine goals and finished the year with 82 points in 81 games with the Flames.  A solid offensive talent, many people believe Cammalleri has arrived as a top six forward, and his speed and scoring touch is something the Leafs could certainly use.  

And don't let the 5'9" frame fool you, Cammalleri has no problem mixing it up, or going into the corners for loose pucks.

Signing players off a career year can be risky though, and some say that Cammalleri isn't worth the $5 million plus he will be seeking.  And while his price tag is up for debate, there is little doubt his addition would make him the most skilled offensive player on the Maple Leafs.

Mike Komisarek

With a cap hit of $1.7 million last season, it's safe to say that is the last time anyone will get the services of Komisarek at that bargain price.

The menacing twenty-seven year old defenseman is a stay at home blueliner, notching around twenty points a year, Komisarek is more known for his heavy hitting, and ability to stand up for his teammates.

His 6'4", 240 pound frame is an intimidating figure, no matter where he is on the ice.

While some people are worried that last year Komisarek fell to earth, there is also a group of people who feel Komisarek may be the cure for the Leafs' defensive ails.

Francois Beauchemin

Another player Burke is familiar with, Beauchemin was brought to Anaheim as an afterthought in the Sergei Fedorov trade.  As it turns out, he would pretty much be the focal point.

Beauchemin is in line for a raise from his $1.65 million he made last year, but there is little doubt a defenseman as solid as Beauchemin's ilk wouldn't be at least worth Jeff Finger type money, if not more.

A guy who is again usually good for twenty to thirty points a year, Beauchemin brings it with physical play, and has the legs to keep up with most the league's top players.  Beauchemin also has a booming shot from the point.

Samuel Pahlsson

Another player with Burke familiarity who won't put up a lot of points, Pahlsson is a great defensive centre, and has proved in the past he can shut down the league's top forwards throughout the league.

Pahlsson made $1.4 million this past season with Anaheim and Chicago, and it's very likely that amount could go up, though no one is quite sure by how much.  

He certainly didn't help his case this past playoffs with the Blackhawks.

Still, Pahlsson would certainly help the Maple Leafs in the faceoff and penalty kill department, though it may be cheaper for the Leafs to consider other options, or give the ball to John Mitchell and see how much further he progresses this year.

Manny Malhotra

At first glance I will get a couple "say what?" responses here.  However, if you look a little further, and you'll find Malhotra is a dependable fourth line centre who can kill penalties, and also provide veteran leadership.

A local boy who will come cheap, Malhotra is the type of player who does little things well, and even chipped in a respectable 11 goals and 35 points for Columbus last year.

Chad LaRose

Another third line grinder type player, LaRose is another one of those guys who does everything you want of a player.  He can score timely goals, hit, and fight.  

LaRose is no doubt an energy guy, and his style of play would look great on the Toronto Maple Leafs.

So that's it, that's my list.  Sorry it's a little late, and sorry it's a little shorter than last year.  

This is a list full of third line energy guys and defense, it's obvious after last season the Leafs must improve their defense and special teams, something I think very possible with healthy, reliable goaltending, and players like these in the lineup for next season.

Be sure to check out the blog all day tomorrow, as we will have live coverage and analysis of the Maple Leafs moves on free agency day.

This article is featured on the blog, live now by clicking here.  Also, keep your eyes peeled to the blog in the next few days, as we have a big announcement planned in the coming days.


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