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Maple Leafs Could Benefit From Martin Necas Addition – Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs are back on the drawing board after another first round exit. They have already relieved Sheldon Keefe of his job as head coach and replaced him with Craig Berube, and many moves are expected to continue before the team hits its peak in the 2024-25 season.

Meanwhile, the Carolina Hurricanes will also look to improve their roster after being eliminated in the second round, and one player they may not be able to bring back should be on the Maple Leafs’ radar. Forward Martin Necas has found himself at the forefront of rumors as a pending free agent.

As Eliotte Friedman said on a recent episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast, he doesn’t believe Necas will stay in Carolina. While the Hurricanes may try to bring him back, he could hit the open market this offseason or be used as a trade piece if they decide to extend him a qualifying offer.

The Maple Leafs should look at Necas’ status and prepare to make him or the Hurricanes an offer. He is a talented forward who will bolster their depth in the middle six, and could be the difference in the postseason. In 77 games last season, he had 24 goals and 29 assists, which was a slight step back from his 71-point game last season, but he maintained a solid defensive game.

Martin Necas, Carolina Hurricanes (Jess Starr/Hockey Writers)

On top of his strong defensive play, Necas provided solid offensive production in the playoffs. While he played only 11 games, he scored four goals and five assists. Over the past few seasons, the Maple Leafs have been a strong regular season team that just couldn’t make it to the playoffs. Adding a playoff player like Necas could be the recipe for success they need when they get back to the postseason.

Necas Impact on Hurricanes

Necas is a 25-year-old, right-handed forward, drafted by the Hurricanes in the first round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft 12th overall. In his draft year, he played in the top Czech league with HC Kometa Brno, scoring seven goals and 15 points in 41 games. He played his first full season of professional hockey in North America in the 2018–19 season in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Charlotte Checkers, scoring 16 goals and 52 points in 64 games. He earned a spot with the Hurricanes for the 2019-20 season and hasn’t slowed down since.

Related: Maple Leafs Should Pursue Brett Pesce This Offseason

In parts of seven seasons, Necas scored 97 goals and 243 points in 362 games, which comes out to 0.67 points per game. He has consistently proven himself to be useful wherever he plays in the lineup and has the potential to turn into an elite top-six forward within a few seasons. He already has the ability to make a difference on any line, but the Maple Leafs could use him in the top six.

This season, Necas was tied with Teuvo Teräväinen for third place in points for the Hurricanes. With the club looking to bring a strong roster to the playoffs next season, you’d think he’d be a big part of their future, but nothing is guaranteed. As a young star, he has continued to grow and still has room for improvement.

Where can Necas fit the Maple Leafs?

It’s hard to say where Necas could fit into the Maple Leafs lineup next season, but I think he’ll get a shot on the second line to start. His ability to play center and wing is an asset, and the Maple Leafs will look to capitalize on that. With Auston Matthews being the best player on the team, Necas can slot into the second line and push John Tavares to the third line. Or, if the Maple Leafs trade Mitch Marner this offseason, Necas could get a shot at the starting lineup next to Matthews.

What happens to Necas will depend on the progress of the team. But he will bring much-needed flexibility to the Maple Leafs’ roster next season. Ideally, they make the changes they need and could add Necas to what could be a tournament roster. Hopefully they’ll jump on him if he and the Hurricanes can’t come to an agreement by the time free agency opens, and he’ll be available.

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