The Toronto Maple Leafs may be heading in the right direction when it comes to signing their restricted free agents - as Kasperi Kapanen and Andreas Johnsson have agreed to extensions today - but even if they managed to keep Mitch Marner in the fold, it won’t fix their blue line issues.
General manager Kyle Dubas needs to find affordable options on the free-agent market to bolster this back end and TSN host Michael Landsberg suggested that Collin Miller could be an interesting choice for the Leafs.
However, Miller was traded from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Buffalo Sabres in return for two drafts picks later that same day.
As he made the suggestion to NHL insider Darren Dreger, that one came back with another option that might scare off some Leafs fans…
Dreger believes the Maple Leafs may consider bringing back veteran defenseman and former captain Dion Phaneuf. The Los Angeles Kings bought out his contract last month, but Dreger believes he still has some gas in the tank to help out the Maple Leafs:
“What about Dion Phaneuf? Coming back as a third-pairing guy? You know he is going to be short term, low dollars - I mean he was just bought out by the Los Angeles Kings - I think one of two scenarios works for Dion Phaneuf. He either goes to a team like Toronto, an established team that knows him well for low dollars, low term or he goes to a team like Ottawa, a young young team where he can play a mentoring role. I still think he’s got enough game - you can’t lean on him, you can’t give him the big minutes, but as a sixth, seventh guy, I still think he can give you enough.”
After his contract was bought out, Phaneuf made it clear that he wanted to dive into free agency waters and prove he can still be a solid member of a blue line. He is hoping to bounce back from a season where he set career lows across the board – average time on ice (15:00), shots (80), points (6) and it could be with the Leafs.