Maple Leafs and Predators Two Pursuers of one of the top UFA Defenders

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Nashville Predators are expected to be two busy teams this offseason; the Predators, because they have a ton of cap space (about $26 million) and are expected to be a major player on the free agent market. The Leafs will be busy, well... because they have to be. And defense is an area of concern.

Over in Carolina, the Hurricanes have some big decisions of their own to make this summer on a number of unrestricted free agents and those of the restricted kind as well. 

Brett Pesce is one of the bigger UFA decisions, and they would like to have him back, while the feeling, he says, is mutual. But as noted by insider David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, "Conversations will need a serious uptick from last summer and the beginning of this season" if something is going to happen. But with nine UFAs to deal with, interim GM Eric Tulsky certainly has his hands full. 

If the Canes come up short in negotiations with the top-four defender, expect the Leafs and Predators to have great interest in signing Pesce come July 1st. He's coming off a six-year deal with a $4.025 AAV, but that price will be going up, well into the 6s (AAV).

The Leafs are looking to give their defense corps a significant boost this summer for new head coach Craig Berube, and will be looking to the free agent market to do it.

The Predators' interest in Pesce is not new; they actually tried to trade for him last offseason. 

Pesce is a workhorse on the blueline, averaging over 21 minutes per game over the course of his 9-year career, while posting a combined plus/minus of +92 and blocking in the range of 100 shots per season.  

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