Leafs ‘Have Started Contract Discussions’ With Future Free Agent

The Toronto Maple Leafs are working on extending Tyler Bertuzzi's contract.

Getty The Toronto Maple Leafs are working on extending Tyler Bertuzzi's contract.

They say where there is smoke there is fire, and with multiple reports speaking about the same development taking place in the Toronto Maple Leafs headquarters, it’s fair to assume something is brewing between the franchise and Tyler Bertuzzi.

According to David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period, in a post shared on social platform X (formerly known as Twitter) on June 1, the Leafs “have started contract discussions” with the pending unrestricted free-agent winger.

“It’s still very early in the process to project where this will go,” Pagnotta wrote, “but the #LeafsForever have started contract discussions with pending UFA winger Tyler Bertuzzi.”

As a member of Toronto, Bertuzzi scored 21 goals and 43 points over 80 games in the regular season this year, and he added 4 points in 7 playoff games after that.

The Leafs signed Bertuzzi to a one-year “bridge” deal, per CapFriendly, ahead of the 2023-24 season. Bertuzzi’s contract was worth $5.5 million, the most he’s earned in a single season since entering the league in 2014-15 on an entry-level deal worth $2.6 million spread over three years.

Mutual Interest Between Maple Leafs, Bertuzzi & Max Domi

Pagnotta’s report is even more interesting after The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reported similar information on May 24.

With two different insiders hearing the same whispers, it’s at least reasonable to assume there must be some truth to the reports about Toronto and Bertuzzi trying to find common ground for a contract extension.

LeBrun reported “mutual interest” in Bertuzzi returning to the Leafs, but he added, “The team is juggling a few things so it’s not clear if it gets done.”

According to LeBrun, one of the most important things for Bertuzzi ahead of 2024 free agency is term, as he would prefer signing a multi-year contract instead of another one-year deal.

“Coming off a one-year, $5.5 million deal, it goes without saying that getting term this time will be important for the 29-year-old Bertuzzi,” LeBrun wrote.

The Leafs had a cap hit of $97.6 million last season, according to CapFriendly. With 15 contracts expiring this summer, totaling $38.5 million, the team is projected to enter the offseason with $18.5 million in cap space.

Leafs Interested in Detroit Red Wings’ David Perron

Besides trying to reach contract-extension agreements with their pending free agents, the Maple Leafs are exploring potential outside additions including Detroit Red Wings winger David Perron.

According to Pagnotta, in a report published on May 25, Perron is “one veteran forward the Maple Leafs may try to add.”

Perron, for context, will become a free agent on July 1 having completed a two-year, $9.5 million deal with Detroit at the end of the 2024 season.

However, Perron has not shown any indication of actively looking for an exit out of Detroit, nor of signing a contract with another organization as long as the Wings want him back for another run.

“The fans were incredible, the city in general, I think for me and my family, really, enjoyed it here, Perron said during his end-of-season media availability on April 18. “There’s no reason at this point to think about anywhere else or anything else. I hope it works out.”

Perron is coming off scoring 17 goals and 30 assists (47 points) in 76 games with the Red Wings during the 2023-24 regular season.

Depending on the cost and the term, the Leafs might prefer to re-sign Bertuzzi instead of exploring adding Perron, or the other way around. Bertuzzi averaged 2.0 points per 60 minutes of ice time in 2024 compared to Perron’s 2.4 in Detroit.

DailyFaceoff assigned Perron a two-year, $6 million contract with an average annual salary of $3 million in the contract projections the site published on May 24. The site expects Bertuzzi to sign a much bigger deal, projecting him to ink a four-year, $21 million deal with a $5.25 AAV.

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