Even with the addition of superstar free agent John Tavares, there’s still work to done for Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas this offseason. Despite losing forwards James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov to free agency and then trading enforcer Matt Martin to the New York Islanders, the Leafs’ forward units actually look pretty good on paper. The Leafs boast three formidable scoring lines and feature a fourth line full of speed and energy. On defence however… the situation is less than ideal.
Tavares, Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Patrick Marleau and Nazem Kadri should all give the opposition fits next season, but the Leafs’ defence corps of Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev could use an upgrade. It’s likely that youngsters Travis Dermott, Connor Carrick and Justin Holl will be given shots next season and it’s possible that 2017 first round draft pick Timothy Liljegren could see some action with the Leafs, but how badly do the Leafs need another veteran presence on the back end?
In his latest article for Leafs blog Editor in Leaf, Mike Stephens takes a look at veteran UFA defenseman Tobias Enstrom and wonders whether or not there’s a fit for the former Winnipeg Jets blue liner on the Leafs.
Stephens asserts that if Enstrom could be signed to a deal similar to Carrick’s $1.3 million annual salary, he could be a good, short-term depth option.
Namely, Enstrom could likely be had for a deal in the vein of *Connor Carrick’*s at $1.3 million. In fact, he might not even get that. With a one-year window of available cap space, the Leafs are in a position to easily handle sending that much salary to the press box in case of injury.
Enstrom could also have a little fire in his belly after being unceremoniously dumped by the Jets last season:
A defined role may not exist for Enstrom at the present moment, but there’s something to be said for betting on a player set to prove his doubters wrong. Enstrom was clearly jilted by the way Winnipeg treated him towards the end of the season and into the playoffs.
What do you think? Is Enstrom an upgrade over Dermott, Carrick and Holl? If not, would you rather see the Leafs pursue another free agent defenseman like Kevin Bieksa or Dan Hamhuis?