Could two members of last year's Leafs sign PTOs with the team for training camp?

Ryan Smitheram
September 3, 2023  (10:46)

The Leafs are currently over the salary cap by $2.9M with Jake Muzzin and Matt Murray on LTIR. That means Brandon Pridham and Brad Treliving will have to play cap gymnastics to make the team compliant entering the season. It could be as simple as demoting a few bodies and running with a 20-man roster, but it could also lead to someone like Calle Jarnkrok and his $2.1M cap hit being moved.

With training camp approaching, beyond the salary cap situation needing to be sorted out, the Leafs have yet to sign any professional tryout agreements. We have already seen a former Leaf in Jordie Benn ink a PTO in Dallas. We've also seen the Oilers and Hurricanes sign a number of PTOs in an attempt to increase the competition at training camp. They may, however, have two candidates already in-house in Wayne Simmonds and Zach Aston-Reese.
First, we need to address why it would make sense for the Leafs to sign either Simmonds or Aston-Reese to a PTO. That's pretty simple. The Leafs are already familiar with both players, their work ethic and their habits on and off the ice. Both players also have not yet found deals in free agency, which could open them up to the idea of signing a PTO and competing for a roster spot.
Of the two, Simmonds is more unlikely candidate to sign a PTO in Toronto, given that he played in just 18 games last season. There's also the fact that the Leafs added Ryan Reaves this summer, who plays a very similar role to the one that Simmonds had played for the last few years in Toronto. The 35-year-old Simmonds played in just 18 games for the Leafs last season, registering 2 assists and 49 penalty minutes. All signs point to Simmonds either parting ways with the Leafs organization or hanging up his skates.
Aston-Reese, on the other hand, could be brought in to provide more competition in the Leafs' bottom-six. He is physical, a good penalty killer and one of the better defensive forwards in the game. However, he struggled to find his footing in Toronto last season. ZAR registered 14 points, including 10 goals in 77 games for the Leafs last season and was often viewed as the most likely candidate to come out of the lineup when changes are needed.
With a number of players still looking for contracts, the Leafs have plenty of options available to them if they want to increase competition at camp. As mentioned, Simmonds likely won't be returning but ZAR could be brought in to increase the competition and put some of the younger players through the ringer and really force them to earn their spot.
Could two members of last year's Leafs sign PTOs with the team for training camp?

Should the Leafs offer professional tryouts to Wayne Simmonds and/or Zach Aston-Reese?

Yes to both10220.1 %
ZAR only20139.6 %
Simmonds only305.9 %
No to both17534.4 %
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