Intriguing UFA Forward Drafted By Maple Leafs Interested In "Reunion"

He was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 5th round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft (#128 overall), but never pulled on the Blue & White, not emerging in the NHL for another six years. Now, Vancouver Canucks' pending UFA Dakota Joshua would be interested in joining the Leafs in free agency, per a report from James Mirtle on The Leaf Report podcast. 

I’ve heard some people say that Joshua wouldn’t want to be in Toronto because he was a draft pick and he played four years in college and walked. I’m told that’s not true.

He would be interested in Toronto. The reason he didn’t sign with Toronto when he was a pick, was he thought it would be hard to break into the forward group at the time, given all the good young forwards they had at the time, and he thought going somewhere else he would get more of an opportunity in the NHL faster. That’s why he made that choice.

Joshua, now 28, is coming off a bargain two-year, $825,000 AAV deal with the Canucks, and had a breakout year this season in a middle-six role in Vancouver, with 18 goals and 32 points in 63 games along with an impressive +19 rating. The 6'3" power forward also handed out a punishing 245 hits. 

With that kind of size and strength, as well as a developing offensive touch, he'd be a perfect fit for the Leafs who are looking to add some punch to their bottom-six. 

He began his NHL career with the St. Louis Blues for parts of two seasons from 2020-2022 playing under new Leafs coach Craig Berube.

The word out of Vancouver is that the Canucks and Joshua "aren't close" on a potential extension. Daily Faceoff's projection has Joshua landing a three-year, $3 million AAV contract in free agency, while Mirtle suggests he could get as much as $4M AAV. 

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