The Toronto Maple Leafs did what was expected on Friday and signed a free agent defenseman to improve their blue line.
It just wasn’t the big-name defenseman that most expected.
The Maple Leafs agreed to terms with T.J. Brodie on a four-year, $20 million contract. That deal comes with a $5 million per year salary cap number. That contract would seem to take them out of the running for former St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, unless they made a rather significant trade to clear out more salary (which seems very unlikely).
While this may not be the big superstar splash, Brodie does help address a significant need for the Maple Leafs.
The 30-year-old defender is coming off of a four goal, 15 assist season in 64 games for the Calgary Flames. While his offense has taken a little step back in recent seasons he remains an excellent defensive player and should help bring some stability to a blue line that desperately needs that sort of presence.
Brodie had spent the previous 10 years of his career playing for the Flames where he was a regular alongside Mark Giordano on the team’s top defense pairing.
Now he joins a Toronto defense that already has Morgan Rielly and Jake Muzzin at the top, as well as recent first-round picks Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren. It seems like a given he will take the spot next to one of those two.
This is Toronto’s second significant signing of the day after also adding veteran forward Wayne Simmonds on a one-year deal.
Now the free agent focus turns to Pietrangelo and where he ends up going. The Vegas Golden Knights are presumed to be the other favorite, but you can also not rule out a return to St. Louis.