NHL Rumors: Former Stanley Cup champion predicts Maple Leafs will target $10,500,000 Panthers D-man in free agency

NHL: Stanley Cup Final-Edmonton Oilers at Florida Panthers
According to an NHL insider, Maple Leafs will try to acquire the Panthers' D-man

The Toronto Maple Leafs are reportedly setting their sights on upgrading their blue line this off-season. The Leafs exited the playoff after losing to the Boston Bruins in the first round. They felt the need for a much stronger defense, and this might be the reason for this strategy.

The Toronto Star's Nick Kypreos mentioned Brandon Montour of the Florida Panthers as one such candidate the Leafs could target. Montour signed a three-year, $10,500,000 contract with the Panthers on July 27, 2021. He is a right-shot defenseman known for his skating, power play capabilities and physical play. If Montour becomes available on July 1, the Leafs will try to acquire him.

“It’s no secret the Leafs will be targeting Florida’s Montour if the pending free agent remains unsigned after this Cup final,” Kypreos wrote (via Leafs Nation).

Montour has delivered on his contract, recording 33 points (eight goals and 25 assists) in 66 regular-season games and 10 points (three goals and seven assists) in 20 playoff games. His robust presence on the ice makes Montour an attractive option for Toronto's defense.

In addition to Montour, Chris Tanev has long been on the radar of Leafs GM Brad Treliving. The pursuit of these defenders aligns with Treliving’s mission to strengthen Toronto’s defense, an area of concern throughout the Auston Matthews era.

Anthony Duclair will be another target for Maple Leafs

Anthony Duclair was recently traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning from the San Jose Sharks. He scored well for the team in a short time. He has 15 points in 17 regular-season games. The Lightning have just over $5 million in cap space and need to re-sign Steven Stamkos. So, they might be unable to retain Duclair.

If Duclair hits the market, he is expected to attract interest due to his strong performance. It includes 24 goals and 42 points in 73 games this season between the Sharks and Lightning.

One team that is interested in Duclair is the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs were keen on him before his trade to Tampa Bay. They could benefit from adding Duclair to their middle six, especially if they lose Tyler Bertuzzi or Max Domi in free agency.

Duclair's scoring ability would complement Toronto's top offensive players like Auston Matthews and William Nylander. The Maple Leafs will likely be active participants if Duclair becomes available on July 1.

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Edited by Piyush Bisht
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