Brett Pesce will be a free agent at the end of the season and is a likely target of the Leafs
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Leafs expected to pursue pending free agent defenseman aggressively this summer

Published March 13, 2024 at 12:11

Leafs GM Brad Treliving has said numerous times that teams are not built at the deadline, they're built in the summer. He held true to his words last Friday as the NHL's trade deadline came and went without the Leafs making any substantial trades, instead focusing on smaller moves to help augment the team.

The Leafs had been looking all season to upgrade their blueline, but only managed to add some depth in Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson, partially due to a lack of assets and partially due to Treliving not wanting to trade his most prized assets for rentals.

Leaf fans are expecting Treliving to overhaul their defense in the off-season with only Morgan Rielly and Jake McCabe signed for next season. At the top of the list is a right-shot defenseman to play with Rielly. One option for the Leafs, as Luke Fox from Sportsnet pointed out this morning, is Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce.

Pesce has been linked to the Leafs in the past, but the Hurricanes have been reluctant to move the 6'3, 205 pound righty as their defense has been their backbone in recent years. However, Pesce may be playing his way out of Carolina given that they have to re-sign Jake Guentzel, Martin Necas, Jack Drury, Seth Jarvis and Brady Skjei, to name a few, this off-season.

Pesce is in the final year of a six-year deal that carries a cap hit of $4.025M, and according to Fox, his next cap hit will begin with a 6, and quite possibly more.

With almost their entire blueline hitting free agency (restricted or un-restricted) and almost $22M in cap room, the Leafs would certainly be able to afford the 29-year-old defensive defenseman. With how Treliving has built his teams in the past, it would come as no surprise if Pesce is just one of multiple big-name acquisitions on the blueline by the Leafs in the off-season - especially if the Leafs plan to have a number of players on entry-level deals playing key roles for the team, including Easton Cowan and Fraser Minten.

March 13   |   578 answers
Leafs expected to pursue pending free agent defenseman aggressively this summer

How would you feel about the Leafs signing Pesce?

Pretty good, he's what we need33357.6 %
Not sure, don't know much about him19834.3 %
No thanks478.1 %
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