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7 depth defencemen the Leafs could add in free agency this summer

May 10, 2023May 10, 2023

While big changes could be on the horizon for the Toronto Maple Leafs, it's important to not forget about the little tweaks, too.

Toronto's defence — once a much-maligned positional group — has made waves over the last few seasons, bringing in a series of veteran defenders to complement their core group.

Toronto has six defenders returning next season: Morgan Rielly, Jake McCabe, Mark Giordano, Timothy Liljegren, Connor Timmins, and TJ Brodie, while Jake Muzzin currently sits on injured reserve.

But should the Leafs look to add one more piece into the mix for cheap, here are seven depth defenders Toronto could make a push for in free agency this summer:

Age: 30

Last contract: Five years, $1.45 million AAV

2022-23 stats: 82 GP, 6 G, 18 A, 24 PTS

Having spent his whole NHL career with the New York Islanders, Scott Mayfield is an intriguing option for the Leafs to consider should he hit the open market.

Mayfield was actually second on the Islanders skaters in time on ice this season, but has never signed a cap hit above the $1.45 million he was earning on his past deal. While he could be due for an internal raise, Toronto should consider a look at him if he does hit the open market.

Age: 28

Last contract: Three years, $1 million AAV

2022-23 stats: 78 GP, 5 G, 18 A, 23 PTS

A 2013 Coyotes draft pick who eventually signed with the Boston Bruins in 2018, Connor Clifton is coming off his most productive NHL season to date as part of one of the league's most successful regular seasons of all time.

It might take some convincing to get Clifton to cross over to this side of the Toronto-Boston rivalry, but amid uncertainty for both teams’ futures, perhaps Toronto can make a push for the 28-year-old to join their back end.

Age: 29

Last contract: One year, $1.25 million AAV

2022-23 stats: 81 GP, 3 G, 11 A, 14 PTS

A fan favourite during his four years as a member of the Vancouver Canucks, Troy Stecher has bounced around four different NHL organizations over the past few years.

He's made the playoffs just twice in his seven-year career, so perhaps he’d be willing to join a Toronto side that should be on track to qualify for the postseason once again.

Age: 32

Last contract: One year, $850,000 AAV

2022-23 stats: 53 GP, 2 G, 10 A, 12 PTS

Now on his second stint with the Carolina Hurricanes, Calvin De Haan served as a junior teammate of Toronto captain John Tavares before spending parts of six seasons together with the New York Islanders.

Having dealt with a series of back injuries over the course of his career, De Haan has only once played more than 75 games in a season.

De Haan isn't exactly the youngest option available, but could fit in nicely on a lesser role on Toronto's blue line.

Age: 30

Last contract: One year, $850,000 AAV

2022-23 stats: 52 GP, 0 G, 4 A, 4 PTS

Nathan Beaulieu likely wasn't too sure if he’d stick around in the NHL this past season, only cracking the Anaheim Ducks roster after making the team out of training camp on a PTO.

Having spent four games in the AHL this past season, Beaulieu's likely looking for any opportunity he can get to stick around in the league.

A former member of both the Montreal Canadiens and Buffalo Sabres, Beaulieu could add a third Atlantic Division team to his resume should he sign in Toronto.

Age: 30

Last contract: One year, $750,000 AAV

2022-23 stats: 45 GP, 4 G, 7 A, 11 PTS

Scott Harrington hardly counts as a "former Leaf," playing just 15 games for the club in the 2015-16 season, where the team finished last in the NHL.

But having spent time with three different NHL rosters since his last go-around in Toronto, the veteran defenceman could be a cheap depth option for the Leafs next year, should they choose to bring him back for a much more competitive roster than his first go-around.

Age: 30

Last contract: Two years, $1.35 million AAV

2022-23 stats: 52 GP, 2 G, 9 A, 11 PTS

Other than being known as the guy people confuse for Jordan Eberle, Jordan Oesterle has built up a quiet resume of 349 NHL games over the last nine seasons with four different franchises.

He's had just nine career playoff games — all in the 2020 "bubble" playoffs with Arizona — so like Stecher, perhaps he's interested in joining a roster more likely to return to the postseason next spring.

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