Toronto Maple Leafs miss high-profile target before signing Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Tom Banks
July 3, 2024  (10:35)

Oliver Ekman-Larsson, formerly of the Florida Panthers.
Photo credit: ESPN

The Toronto Maple Leafs landed some big name defenseman early in free agency, but they were close to doing even better than Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

After some defensive woes cost them in the first-round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Toronto Maple Leafs knew that their blue line would be a key point of focus heading into this off-season. Brad Treliving has now acquired Chris Tanev, Jani Hakanpaa and Oliver Ekman-Larsson in free agency, but according to a report, he almost nabbed a much bigger target.
James Mirtle of The Athletic recently reported that the team were in on Matt Roy of the Los Angeles Kings until the end, but ultimately balked at his asking price, leading him to sign a seven-year deal with the Washington Capitals.
"If it doesn't look bad in Year 1, it'll certainly look bad in Year 2 or Year 3... Ekman-Larsson is not gonna be easy to disappear and I would be concerned that they're going to play him higher in the lineup than the third pair and we know what that looks like because it didn't work in Vancouver. That's the really problematic deal for me and I think it happened because they got close on some other names and backed away over where the price was going and I wondered if they could have spent that money somewhere else."

Ekman-Larsson had a solid year with the Stanley Cup winning Florida Panthers, but before that he was highly scrutinized in Vancouver, and unfortunately for some Maple Leafs fans, they aren't taking it well.
mirtle on the leaf report says the leafs were really, really close to getting matt roy (would've been instead of OEL) and i'm going to turn into the joker
Ultimately, the Maple Leafs have improved on the blue line (although they likely overpaid for one or two additions), and now, with free agency rolling on and potential trades, they'll look to further upgrade the roster ahead of the 2024/25 regular season.