The Toronto Maple Leafs have found their right-side defenseman (though he’s still not right-handed). Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports that T.J. Brodie will be heading to Toronto, and follows up with the contract details. Brodie will sign a four-year deal worth a total of $20MM ($5MM AAV). Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic provides the full breakdown:
- 2020-21: $2.5MM
- 2021-22: $5.0MM
- 2022-23: $5.0MM
- 2023-24: $7.5MM
The Maple Leafs have been dying for a right-handed defenseman to pair with Morgan Rielly for years, but will have to settle for the left-shot-right-side Brodie, who has been a strong contributor in Calgary for a decade. Toronto even tried to acquire him last summer in a trade that would have seen Nazem Kadri head to the Flames, but it was nixed by a no-trade clause at the last minute. In his place, the team traded for Tyson Barrie who was a defensive nightmare in Toronto, and regularly stuck Cody Ceci alongside Rielly.
Now, with Mikko Lehtonen also in the fold, the Maple Leafs have presumably improved their defense quite a bit as they prepare for the 2020-21 season. That being said, Brodie’s addition also puts a lot of pressure on the front office to figure out the cap situation.
CapFriendly now projects the Maple Leafs to be over the $81.5MM cap ceiling by a little more than $1MM, with new contracts to come for Travis Dermott and Ilya Mikheyev. While some space can be made by removing names like Calle Rosen and Timothy Liljegren, two players who likely won’t start the year in the NHL, it is quite the tight fit if either of the team’s restricted free agents are looking at a substantial raise.
It also likely means the team is out of the Alex Pietrangelo sweepstakes, though a pursuit of the top free agent always seemed impossible given their financial situation. The Maple Leafs would have had to move out several pieces to make room for the Blues captain, though GM Kyle Dubas did confirm that he spoke with Pietrangelo’s agent today.
Back to Brodie, who is cashing in and receives a slight raise on the $4.65MM cap hit he has carried over the last five years with Calgary. In 634 regular season games he has recorded 266 points, including back-to-back 40-plus seasons in 2014-16. That offense did dry up a bit in 2019-20 when Brodie scored just 19 points in 64 games, but the Maple Leafs need more at the defensive end of the rink anyway. That’s where this signing does hit a bit of a snag, as though Brodie records very strong defensive metrics, he’s not the snarling, shutdown defender that so many Maple Leafs fans seem to be clamoring for. In fact, he has recorded just 264 hits over his ten-year career. Brodie relies much more on his elusive skating ability and quick decision making to recover and move pucks but is still prone to the odd glaring turnover.
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