Maple Leafs Out of Race for Sharks’ No. 1 Defenseman: Report

The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking for reinforcements to bolster their defense corps. The latest news indicates that the franchise has left the race for the No. 1 defenseman in San Jose.

David Pagnotta of The Fourth Period reported on June 21 that the Toronto Maple Leafs have stopped pursuing San Jose Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro.

Linus Ullmark next to move? My latest on the #NHLBruins goalie, his 14 (not 15) team no-trade list, #GoSensGo top contender & more… PLUS:
– #CBJ & Laine
– #LeafsForever after D
– #LetsGoFlyers trade talk
– #GoKingsGo #SeaKraken #LetsGoBuffalo + more

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 20, 2024

“The Maple Leafs want to get bigger on the blue line and are looking for big, physical defencemen,” Pagnotta wrote. “One player no longer on their radar is Mario Ferraro.

“The Leafs and San Jose Sharks had discussions during the season, but I’m told he does not fit their current plan.”

The Leafs showed interest in Ferraro during the 2023-24 regular season and early in the offseason, but he no longer fits their roster for the upcoming season. That, consequently, might put the Leafs in the chase for other reported targets linked to the team of late.

Most prominently, it looks like the team is focusing on acquiring bigger, more physical defensemen via free agency, aiming at landing at least two top-pair-caliber players.

Previous Links Between Maple Leafs and Sharks’ Mario Ferraro

The Maple Leafs have been linked to Mario Ferraro throughout the 2023-24 season and at the start of June.

David Pagnotta first reported the Leafs’ interest in Ferraro on February 20, 2024, a little over two weeks before the March 8 trade deadline.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs have interest in Ferraro and are more likely to move a first-round pick for an asset with term,” Pagnotta wrote. “Including a first-rounder in a package could be of interest to both clubs.”

My latest (from the airport):
– #SJSharks willing to trade Ferraro; Kunin extension talks
– Marner & #LeafsForever update
– #Canucks, Myers still talking; Lafferty to hit market
– #CauseChaos Necas trade talks
– #Flames & #NJDevils on Markstrom
+ more

— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) June 11, 2024

Pagnotta circled back to those reports, echoing the Leafs’ interest in Ferraro once again on June 11, with free agency right around the corner.

“The Leafs had their eyes on Ferraro (…) during the season and it’s entirely possible Toronto GM Brad Treliving circles back on both this off-season – but he may have to work fast,” Pagnotta wrote.

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman shared similar information on December 2023, naming Ferraro as the player on the Sharks’ defense that teams “would have more interest in.”

Here’s the full clip of @FriedgHNIC’s comments suggesting the #SJSharks are all ears on offers for their blue liners. Doesn’t believe Mario Ferraro is off the table.

— SnipeCity420  (@SnipeCity420) December 3, 2023


Ferraro’s Situation in San Jose

Ferraro is still 25 years old and has two years left on his contract with a $3.25 million cap hit. The blueliner, however,  expressed his desire to stay in San Jose speaking to Sheng Peng of the San Jose Hockey Now on December 8, 2023.

“I feel like I have unfinished business here,” Ferraro told Peng. “This organization has done so much for me, right? I feel like I still owe them and the fans.”

Ferraro played 78 games in the 2023-24 season, scoring 3 goals and providing 18 assists while averaging 22:52 time on ice.

The Sharks might still trade Ferraro despite his comments about being open to signing an extension.

San Jose’s GM Mike Grier has already completed similar transactions in the recent past. Those included stars Brent Burns, Timo Meier, and Erik Karlsson. With that track record, it’s fair to expect a trade if the right offer arrives at his table.

Maple Leafs’ Quest for Big-Body Defenders

According to the latest reports, the Leafs are prioritizing the addition of big, physical defensemen this offseason. Pagnotta even mentioned two specific players on June 19: Vancouver Canucks‘ Nikita Zadorov and St. Louis Blues‘ Colton Parayko.

“The Toronto Maple Leafs are looking to add some size to their blueline this off-season,” Pagnotta wrote. “GM Brad Treliving is believed to be in the market for a big defenceman or two.”

“The Leafs have already been linked to pending unrestricted free agent blueliner Nikita Zadorov,” Pagnotta continued. “On the trade front, the Maple Leafs have been linked to St. Louis Blues rearguard Colton Payrayko. He has a full no-movement clause and would have to approve any trade.”

CapFriendly projects that Toronto will enter the offseason with just over $18.8 million in cap space. The Leafs have only 10 forwards, five defensemen, and one goalie under contract for next season.

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