The summer of 2019 may provide one of the most enticing free agent crops in recent memory - highlighted by three of the best defensemen in the National Hockey League.
Erik Karlsson, Drew Doughty, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson are all set to become unrestricted free agents in the summer following the 2018-19 season. If contracts aren't drawn up between this summer and next, anyone of them could be traded in next year's trade deadline, and/or signed as a free agent on July 1st.
The Toronto Maple Leafs will be in hot pursuit of each of these players. While Karlsson is the least likely of the bunch to be acquired in trade, of which the price would be staggeringly high, he could be signed as a free agent if he opts to hit the open market.
The price for Karlsson in trade would be in the neighbourhood of William Nylander, Timothy Liljegren, a couple high picks and another strong prospect.
As for Doughty and Ekman-Larsson, they could be available either by trade or free agent signing. The increase of the salary cap and some big salaries coming off the books this summer and next could afford the Leafs the opportunity to sign one of these superstars to a long term deal.
According to Leafs blogger Howard Berger, "one is likely bound for the Toronto Maple Leafs."
Berger's bold prediction on Twitter: "Rest assured that one of Drew Doughty, Erik Karlsson or Oliver Ekman-Larsson will wear the blue and white in the 2019-20 season."