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Leafs linked to pair of top pending free agent defensemen


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Ryan Smitheram
May 11, 2024  (3:01 PM)
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Brett Pesce
Photo credit: NHL

Elliotte Friedman revealed the names of two defenseman whom the Leafs are expected to pursue aggressively this summer, should they hit the open market on July 1st.

The Leafs have a number of holes to fill on their blueline this off-season as Ilya Lyubushkin, Joel Edmundson, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie are unrestricted free agents, while Timothy Liljegren is a restricted free agent.
The back-end has long been an issue for the Leafs, who have been unable to secure a top-pairing defenseman, specifically on the right side. Leafs GM Brad Treliving made it clear when he joined the Leafs 11 months ago that he was going to address the blueline and build a better blueline.
That may begin as early as this summer and Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman mentioned two defensemen that would be a fit for the Leafs. Friedman suggested this week that if Brandon Montour and Brett Pesce go to market, the Leafs will be involved in the bidding war.
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Montour is in the final year of a 3-year, $10.5M deal that currently carries a $3.5M cap hit. The 30-year-old is the more offensively gifted of the two options, and had 8 goals and 33 points in 66 games for the Panthers this season. While only 6 feet tall, Montour is a thick and durable 200 pounds.
Pesce, on the other hand, is far more defensively adept and doesn't offer much offense. He has been linked to the Leafs in the past and is in the final year of a 6-year, $24.15M deal. He currently carries a $4.025M cap hit. The 29-year-old had 3 goals and 13 points 70 games. Pesce would certainly add the size the Leafs are looking for as he is 6'3 and 206 pounds.
Both defensemen will be looking for significant raises over there current contracts, which could make it hard for the Leafs to fit one or both in under the cap, unless of course they move Mitch Marner and/or John Tavares. While Montour is more offensive than Pesce, either player would provide a stable top-pairing partner for Morgan Rielly on the right side.
Should the Leafs be able to land one or both of them, it would instantly give them a much better blueline than they have had in recent memory. Regardless, the Leafs will have a very different looking back-end next season and hopefully it is for the better.
POLL
MAY 11   |   839 ANSWERS
Leafs linked to pair of top pending free agent defensemen

Who would you prefer the Leafs to sign this summer to help bolster the blueline?

Brett Pesce809.5 %
Brandon Montour30236 %
Neither10913 %
Bring them both in34841.5 %
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