While this offseason promises intrigue no matter what, the Toronto Maple Leafs are undoubtedly going to bring an added element of excitement for hockey fans over the coming weeks. After a fifth straight first-round playoff loss, general manager Kyle Dubas will be under immense pressure this month to bring in names to help the team perform at a higher level throughout the regular season and playoffs. Many details are starting to emerge about Toronto’s plans for next season and how their roster may look. One thing that’s becoming apparent is that Zach Hyman likely isn’t part of the Maple Leafs’ future, as Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts column notes that an extension for the forward is unlikely to happen. Hyman’s received interest from both the Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings, both teams who can and likely will offer him more money and term than Toronto is willing to offer. The absence of Hyman leaves a hole in the team’s top-six forward group that will need to be filled. It appears as though the Leafs already have some ideas about how to approach this:
- In a Saturday radio hit from Friedman, he mentions that the Leafs are circling back with the Detroit Red Wings about winger Tyler Bertuzzi. Bertuzzi, who missed all but nine games this season with a back injury, carries some financial uncertainty as he’s a pending restricted free agent. With him missing the past season due to injury, however, it’s likely that Bertuzzi only signs a one-year deal whether he’s dealt or not, taking him through his final year of RFA eligibility. It would keep the cost down for the Maple Leafs, who’ll continue to look to add at all positions this offseason.
- There’s little surprise that after such a disappointing end to the season, Toronto would look to shake up their coaching staff. An unbelievably poor power-play unit left a nasty streak on what was otherwise a successful regular season, prompting potential changes among head coach Sheldon Keefe’s associates. Friedman also reports in 31 Thoughts that the team may bring in former Arizona Coyotes bench boss Rick Tocchet as an assistant. While his time in the desert didn’t yield too much success, Tocchet’s garnered a solid track record as an assistant, especially during his time working with the Pittsburgh Penguins – in which he won back-to-back Stanley Cups. Friedman also mentioned Montreal Canadiens assistant Luke Richardson as a possible hire, but it’s unlikely the team would let him go. Richardson was a large part of Montreal’s playoff run, stepping in as the interim head coach while Dominique Ducharme missed the majority of their series against the Vegas Golden Knights due to COVID protocol.