Maple Leafs Rumors: Toronto Linked to Former Stanley Cup-winning Forward

The Toronto Maple Leafs are focused on improving their defense this offseason, but the forward mix can't be neglected either. The team needs another strong middle-six option, particularly without knowing if they're able to re-sign impending UFAs Tyler Bertuzzi and Max Domi.

When the latest Trade Boards were dropped on Thursday, Colorado Avalanche third-line center Ross Colton's name appeared for the first time, with the thought that a trade could happen fast, as he has a full no-trade clause kicking in on July 1st. Now, the Leafs are being linked as a potential suitor for the 27-year-old.

Kevin Papetti of The Athletic made the connection, knowing the Leafs could use some help on that third line. Colton potted 17 goals and 40 points for the Avs this past season, while handing out 141 hits. His 6-foot, 200-pound frame delivered 188 hits the season before, with 16 goals with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He was a 22-goal scorer in his first full NHL season with Tampa, in 2021-22. The year before, he played a solid bottom-six role late in the season and through the playoffs as a fresh-faced rookie for the Stanley Cup-winning Lightning. 

From a physical standpoint, Colton would be a solid addition in Toronto, as only three Maple Leafs forwards delivered more hits this season, and two of those three—Ryan Reaves and Noah Gregor—were just bit contributors everywhere else on the ice. 

This would be the second straight year that Colton has been a victim of the salary cap numbers game, as the Avalanche are looking for some cap space to work with, same as the Bolts last year at this time, necessitating his trade to Colorado back then. Colton is set to earn $4M a year for each of the next three seasons. 

Photo: © Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports