Maple Leafs 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After Playoff Loss

Erin WalshContributor IMay 15, 2022

Maple Leafs 2022 Free Agents, Draft Targets, Offseason Guide After Playoff Loss

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    Rebecca Blackwell/Associated Press

    The Toronto Maple Leafs were eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs after a 2-1 loss in Game 7 of their first-round series against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at Scotiabank Arena.

    After a promising season in which Auston Matthews scored 60 goals to be named a finalist for the Hart Trophy and the team finished second in the Atlantic Division with a 54-21-7 record, the Maple Leafs appeared closer than ever to winning a Stanley Cup.

    However, Toronto again missed out in the playoffs, and so it's back to the drawing board for general manager Kyle Dubas and Co.

    Let's take a look at Toronto's free agents, some draft targets and what to expect moving forward.

Free Agents

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    Peter Power/Associated Press

    Ilya Mikheyev (UFA), Pierre Engvall (RFA), Jason Spezza (UFA), Colin Blackwell (UFA), Mark Giordano (UFA), Ilya Lybushkin (UFA), Timothy Liljegren (RFA), Jack Campbell (UFA)


    The most important player the Maple Leafs will need to re-sign this summer is Jack Campbell. While the veteran netminder didn't have the best 2021-22 season, the team might not have many options elsewhere.

    Marc-Andre Fleury is a possibility, though he's 37 years old and signing him might not be the best use of cap space. Other potential targets include Darcy Kuemper, Mikko Koskinen and Braden Holtby, though they weren't necessarily any better than Campbell.

    The 30-year-old finished the 2021-22 season with a 31-9-6 record and a 2.64 goals-against average and .914 save percentage. He might be Toronto's best option moving forward, provided he doesn't require a large salary increase.

    Ilya Mikheyev would also be worth bringing back for the 2022-23 season and beyond. He tallied 21 goals and 11 assists for 32 points in 53 games last term, which was a career year for him.

    That said, the 27-year-old should receive plenty of interest in free agency and won't come cheap.

    However, there's little doubt Toronto will bring Timothy Liljegren back. The 22-year-old was selected 17th overall in the 2017 draft and has the potential to be one of the best defenders the team has seen in a long time.

2022 Draft Targets

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    The Maple Leafs have just three draft picks in 2022, but they have retained their first-round selection.

    Toronto traded its second-round pick in the deal for Mark Giordano, one of its third-round picks for David Rittich, its fourth-round pick for Stefan Noesen, its fifth-round pick for Ben Hutton and its sixth-round pick for Riley Nash.

    Here's a look at the team's current picks this year:

    • One first-round pick (No. 28 overall)
    • One third-round pick
    • One seventh-round pick

    The Leafs' first-round pick is going to come later in the round, so they likely won't get the opportunity to draft one of the premier players available. However, there will still be plenty of talent left on the board when they're on the clock.

    And Filip Mesar, Liam Ohgren and Owen Pickering could be interesting options.

    Center Mesar, 18, spent the 2021-22 season playing for HK Poprad in Slovakia. He recorded eight goals and eight assists for 16 points in 37 games and has been lauded for his ability to generate dangerous offense.

    Ohgren, 18, played for Djurgardens IF J20 in Sweden last year and notched 33 goals and 25 assists for 58 points in 30 games. He is a strong but skillful power forward who could be an effective supporting winger in Toronto.

    Defender Pickering, who is also 18, spent the 2021-22 season with the Swift Current Broncos of the Western Hockey League. He had nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 62 games and is already a capable defender.

Free-Agent Targets

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    The Leafs won't have much money to spend in free agency, but that hasn't stopped them before. And Ben Chiarot, Filip Forsberg and Johnny Gaudreau could be targets for Toronto.

    Toronto is always looking for defenders, and Chiarot is a physical defenseman who would fit nicely on its blue line. He finished the 2021-22 season with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points in 74 games split between the Montreal Canadiens and Florida Panthers.

    The 30-year-old averaged 22:51 minutes of time on ice per game and could take pressure off some of the younger defensive players.

    Forsberg, 27, had 42 goals and 42 assists for 84 points in 69 games with the Nashville Predators during the 2021-22 season. His scoring touch would be welcomed at Toronto, but his price tag is going to be high.

    The same could be said for Gaudreau, who had a career year for the Calgary Flames. He tallied 40 goals and 75 assists for 115 points in 82 games and won't come cheap.

    That said, the 28-year-old would be a better option than Forsberg, but adding him seems like a dream scenario for Toronto rather than a real possibility.