Dylan DeMelo deal complicates things for the Leafs with free agency looming

Mike Armenti
June 25, 2024  (11:25)

Dylan DeMelo gets big payday from the Jets
Photo credit: Sportsnet

The Winnipeg Jets have signed defenseman Dylan DeMelo to an exorbitant new contract on Tuesday, potentially throwing the market for UFA defensemen out of whack for the Maple Leafs.

Per TSN's Chris Johnston, DeMelo and the Jets have put pen to paper on a significant new contract extension, which carries a large $4.9M cap hit over the next 4 seasons.
How does this impact the Maple Leafs? Well, it's simple, really. Not only does the DeMelo deal pull another quality defenseman off the market, boosting the prices of the remaining UFA defensemen, but his $4.9M cap hit likely ensures that all of the blueliners that the Maple Leafs have been linked to will now fall in that $5M-$7.25M range, thanks to the DeMelo and Filip Hronek deals.
Some of the players to whom the Leafs have been linked include Nikita Zadorov, Brett Pesce, Chris Tanev and Brandon Montour. With Montour stating last night that he wants to remain in Florida, Tanev seeking a 4-year term in his mid-30's, and Pesce rumoured to be heading to New Jersey, that really only leaves Zadorov, whose rumored asking price is around $6M per season for the next 6 years.
The Leafs have just under $20M to spend this summer, most of which will be allocated to the blueline. The Buds are also expected to take a run at re-signing both of Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi, though they're far more likely to only bring one of them back due to cap constraints.
This deal may force the Leafs to look to the trade market for a lower priced defensive upgrade, limiting them to just one single UFA defenseman this summer to make the money work. Obviously, things can change and the Leafs can pull off other moves to open up some additional cap space if need be, but in the short term, with free agency opening up on Monday, the cap hit on the DeMelo deal could cause some problems for the Leafs when delving into the UFA market.
Source: PuckPedia
Dylan DeMelo salary information
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Dylan DeMelo deal complicates things for the Leafs with free agency looming

How many of the more significant UFA defensemen will the Leafs sign this summer?

None13417.2 %
One26834.4 %
Two32441.5 %
More than two546.9 %
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