Exploring Offseason Adjustments for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Photo Credits: Michael Dwyer/AP

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ season ended Saturday night following their 2-1 overtime loss to the Boston Bruins. With the first-round elimination, Toronto has lost in the first round in seven out of their last eight series. Via Sportsnet Stats on X/Twitter, in the Mitch Marner/Auston Matthews era, the Leafs’ record is 24-33, 10-19 home record, and 0-5 in game sevens.

Before the Stanley Cup Playoffs started, James Mirtle of The Athletic reported that Maple Leafs ownership could make changes if the team had a disappointing first-round exit. Following that report, it was doubled down when Toronto went down 3-1 in their series to the Boston Bruins; Elliotte Friedman said on his 32 Thoughts podcast with Jeff Marek, “This is the end of this group (core four) if they don’t pull off a big comeback.” 

Now that the Leafs are in the off-season, what changes will happen? The Leafs should start by looking into their coaching staff. Sheldon Keefe is a tremendous coach in the regular season with a record of 212-97-40, but come playoff time, it is a different story. He is 16-21 and is 1-5 in elimination games. A new voice in the room could help with that. Craig Berube is a name that has popped up recently. It was reported by The Fourth Period that the Leafs have expressed interest in hiring Berube as their head coach. Berube was the St. Louis Blues head coach from 2018-2023. He won a Stanley Cup with the team in 2019.

The Leafs will also look into their assistant coaches. Toronto went 1/21 on the power play, which is unacceptable, and that falls on Guy Boucher, who runs the power play. I don’t expect him back, and I could also see a change in that position.

 Another discussion topic is whether Brendan Shanahan will return as the team’s president. Shanahan joined the Leafs organization in April 2014 and has had a vision for the club; since then, there have been no results besides winning one playoff round in 19 years. With one year left on his contract, there is a 50/50 chance he will return. If he were to be let go, I think Brad Treliving would fill that position, and Treliving could remain as general manager, or they could look for someone else.

There are expectations that there will be changes to the Maple Leafs lineup. Mitch Marner’s name is being talked about. In seven playoff games this season, he had three points. Maple Leafs fans expected more from him, but to no avail. Marner has one year left on his contract and a no-movement clause; Toronto will have to ask him to waive it if they want to move on from him. If the Leafs were to trade Marner, it would open much-needed cap space. There has been speculation that if a Marner trade were to happen, a defenceman would return the other way. On 32 Thoughts today, Elliotte Friedman mentioned that Marner waiving his no-trade clause could be a possibility: “I do think it’s possible he will think about it (waiving his MNC)… it doesn’t mean he tells the Leafs “get me out of here,” but I do think at least there will be a Marner collective as in the people around decide if it better to go somewhere else.” 

Toronto’s possible trade partner could be the Chicago Blackhawks. Elliotte Friedman wonders if Toronto would be interested in Seth Jones but doesn’t know how a trade could work. Friedman added that the Leafs would get a defenceman if they traded Mitch Marner.

Joshua Kloke of The Athletic has reported that Toronto is expected to undergo a defensive overhaul. Key defencemen, such as Brett Pesce, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, and Brandon Montour, are set to be free agents, and I expect Toronto to check in on them. If the Leafs were to trade for a defenceman, one player I can see coming back in a deal is Colton Parayko. Toronto will have $19.4M to spend. They must spend the money wisely and decide who stays and who goes.

The Leafs’ final question is their goaltending situation. Ilya Samsonov is an unrestricted free agent. He had an up-and-down season, going 23-7-8 with a save percentage of .890 and a 3.13 GAA. In the playoffs, Samsonov looked shaky, going 1-4 in five games played, with a 3.01 GAA and a save percentage of .904. I expect Samsonov to hit the open market on July 1st.

Joseph Woll showed that he could be a number-one goalie in the NHL. In 25 games played this season, Woll went 12-11-1 with a GAA of 2.93 and a save percentage of .907. Woll saved the Leafs’ season, winning games five and six and forcing a game seven. Unfortunately, Woll was injured at the end of game six and couldn’t start game seven. Woll has a bright future with the Leafs, but he is injury-prone. 

Having a tandem of 1A-1B could benefit Woll in the long run. If the Leafs look to add to the goaltending position, don’t be surprised if they make an offer for St. Louis Blues netminder Jordan Binnington. Bennington (30) had a bounce-back season this year, going 28-21-5 with a .913 save percentage and 2.84 GAA. The Richmond Hill, Ontario native has three years left on his contract at $6M. There would have to be salary retained if a trade were to happen. Getting a goaltender like Binnington can help, especially for Woll, knowing that he would have a Stanley Cup Champion like Binnington to fall back on.

Whatever changes the Toronto Maple Leafs make this offseason, the hockey world will undoubtedly pay attention to every move. 

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