Report: Maple Leafs, Bruins made pitch to free agent Justin Williams

Ailish Forfar
NHL Editor
It's reported that Williams’ priority remains returning to the Carolina Hurricanes, but other contenders have put their name in the ring. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

Imagine if the Toronto Maple Leafs had Justin Williams — aka Mr. Game 7 — back in 2013, 2018 or 2019... things might have turned out a little differently.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported Tuesday that the Leafs recently pitched the three-time Stanley Cup champion, who currently sits unsigned after deciding to step away from the Carolina Hurricanes before the season.

Williams, 38, did not formally retire in September, but stated he felt “unsure of (his) aspirations with regards to hockey,” and subsequently felt unprepared both mentally and physically to return. Recently there’s been speculation and added pressure surrounding his future as the NHL trade deadline approaches on Feb. 24.

LeBrun added that Williams’ priority remains returning to the Hurricanes and staying in Carolina where his family resides. Williams is a native of Cobourg, ON, which is just outside of Toronto. His roots could play a role in where he may or may not decide to sign.

Boasting the Mr. Game 7 moniker, Williams would be an intriguing add for any postseason-bound team as he’s earned a reputation as one of the biggest playoff performers in NHL history. He holds the league record for Game 7 points with 14 across his career, and regardless of his age, brings leadership, hard work and consistency to a team.

Williams has played a total of over 1,200 NHL games with the Hurricanes, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals.

On Tuesday night, only a few hours after the initial report from LeBrun, the Williams rumours intensified with heavy emphasis on a return to the Hurricanes. It is now reported that he has “tentatively agreed to terms with Carolina.” Neither side has yet to release a statement.

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