The Leafs have a very difficult decision looming and no matter what, fans will be disappointed

Ryan Smitheram
March 22, 2024  (11:30)

Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi are UFAs at the end of the season, but the Leafs likely won't be able to keep both
Photo credit: NHL

Fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs were ecstatic when the team signed Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi to 1-year deals this past off-season. Unfortunately, that enthusiasm dwindled quickly after both got off to very slow starts with their new team. Lately, however, both have played extremely well and along with Auston Matthews are coming off of a combined 10-point night against the Washington Capitals.

With both playing well right now, there has now been a debate through the media as to whether or not the Leafs should make an attempt to re-sign one or both pending UFAs. On TSN's 'First Up' this morning, insider Darren Dreger was asked if there was a mutual thought of getting something long-term done between the Leafs, Domi and Bertuzzi.
"How can there not be? I would apply that to both Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi. The obvious issue, though, is with Nylander's extension kicking in and Matthews' extension kicking in, even though the cap is going up, the Leafs don't have a bottomless pit here. If you're going to find a creative way to convince these guys to avoid unrestricted free agency, its going to come out of somewhere else.

Who's playing on your fourth line? How many entry-level contracts can you have playing in the NHL? How many sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth defensemen can you have playing nightly in the NHL cause that's the give and take when you're trying to hoard really good players.

These guys are at an age where the money matters, the term matters. I think it's going to take a lot more for the players to avoid the open market. Tyler Bertuzzi is going to get paid, so is Max Domi. I don't think the Leafs are going to be able to afford them. Maybe one of them if there is a slight concession, but I don't think they can afford both."

As Dreger pointed out, although the cap is going up, the increase is already taken up by the extensions of Nylander and Matthews. On top of that, GM Brad Treliving's top priority, as it has been all season, is to revamp the blueline. The Leafs have $20.5M in cap space for next season but they also have to fill out their goaltending and all but Morgan Rielly and Jake McCabe are going to be free agents (RFA & UFA) at the end of the season.
As far as who they'll choose, that's a tough one. On one hand, you have Bertuzzi, who gives them that gritty, grimy, net-front guy who will make life miserable on the opposition. On the other, you have Max Domi, a 2nd generation Leaf with a unique blend of sandpaper and sensational playmaking ability who can play both wing and center. I don't envy Brad Treliving one bit with the very tough decision he'll have to make this summer.
22 MARS   |   516 ANSWERS
The Leafs have a very difficult decision looming and no matter what, fans will be disappointed

If the Leafs can only re-sign one, who would you prefer to bring back?

Domi21341.3 %
Bertuzzi6913.4 %
Neither305.8 %
Trade someone and bring them both back20439.5 %
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