Insider Links Maple Leafs to 2 Stud Defensemen

The Toronto Maple Leafs are in for a wild summer by all accounts. The days of having four forwards making close to, or above $11 million apiece might very well be over. Some serious funds have to be allotted to the blueline, and with that, some big names will start to surface.

While speculating on his 32 Thoughts Podcast Monday morning, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman was "spitballing" a few names on defense that the Leafs could be looking at this offseason, and he notably wondered about a couple of players in particular, starting with a very expensive blueliner on the Chicago Blackhawks.

Seth Jones

"Jones has indicated that losing is not very easy on him... If Chicago is going to keep losing, I wonder how Jones feels," opined Friedman. While admitting that his analytics numbers "haven't been great" he wonders how the Blackhawks feel about him, and his $9.5 million cap hit on a rebuilding team, and how, in turn, Jones feels about sticking around. He still has six more years left on his massive contract.

He does hold the hammer, however, with a no-move clause, so any talks of a trade rest ultimately in his hands. 

The 29-year-old finished with 31 points in 67 games for the Blackhawks this season, while playing 25 1/2 minutes per night. He had a minus-15 rating.

Brett Pesce 

The veteran d-man and the Canes will be in a sticky situation once their season comes to an end. Pesce's six-year deal expires and he'll be an unrestricted free agent. But he's just one of nine UFAs plus several RFAs that the Hurricanes will have to deal with this summer, and they certainly won't be able to afford them all. Will Pesce be one that they have to sacrifice? If so, the Leafs would have to look long and hard at the 9-year veteran who had another solid year on the Carolina blueline. 

In 627 career games, he has a +92 rating, while playing over 21 minutes a night. He would certainly slot right into the top-four on the Leafs back end. 

Friedman also mentioned Brandon Montour as a defenseman that the Leafs would be in the mix for, should the Florida Panthers allow him to enter the UFA market. His three-year, $3.5 million cap hit deal is coming to a close, and he'll be in for a nice raise on the open market if Florida doesn't sign him first. 

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