Brandon Montour became a household name on the Florida Panthers' run to the 2023 Stanley Cup Final. He's right back in that position in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final, hoping to avenge last season's loss. However, Montour has free agency looming at the end of this season, whether he wins the Stanley Cup or not. Both parties desire to keep their relationship going for many years, but the salary cap may not allow it.

The Panthers will try to extend Montour's contract after the playoffs, but it's becoming likely he'll test free agency on July 1st. If Montour doesn't return to the Panthers, plenty of teams value his services. Let's look at the best destinations for Brandon Montour if he leaves the Panthers in free agency.

Toronto Maple Leafs are in on every free agent 

The joke in Canada is that the Toronto Maple Leafs are in on every available free agent. Toronto is the center of the hockey universe, so Canadian media will always include them in their free agency and trade discussions. However, Brandon Montour to the Maple Leafs is an idea that makes sense. The Maple Leafs have $18.8 million in projected cap space this upcoming offseason, and defense is a need for the blue and white.

TJ Brodie, Joel Edmundson and Ilya Lyubushkin are unrestricted free agents. Brodie's play fell off this season, and Edmundson and Lyubushkin are players the team acquired during the trade deadline that couldn't help them get past the first round. Three of these right-side defensemen will look elsewhere in free agency, leaving Conor Timmins and Timothy Liljegren as the only ones remaining.

There's no guarantee that Liljegren will be back next season, as he's a restricted free agent. The Maple Leafs are in the driver's seat to re-sign him, but his play in the playoffs could make them walk away. If Liljegren does return, there's no way he and Timmins can be in the top four for a contending team, which could mean the Maple Leafs are in the market for two right-shot defensemen.

Montour would be a perfect fit for the Maple Leafs, but the question is whether the Ontario-born defenseman would welcome the high pressure of playing in Toronto.

A possible Anaheim Ducks reunion 

Florida Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour (62) controls the puck during the first period against the Edmonton Oilers in game one of the 2024 Stanley Cup Final at Amerant Bank Arena.
© Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Montour played three seasons with the Anaheim Ducks at the beginning of his career before getting traded to the Buffalo Sabres. He was always a defenseman with high upside but didn't fully flourish until last season when he had 73 points in 80 games. He's also one of the central figures of two-straight Stanley Cup Final runs for the Florida Panthers.

Could the Ducks be willing to have a reunion now that Montour has found his game? He would be a big help for a team that is 32nd in goals for and 29th in goals against over their six-year playoff drought. The Ducks have low depth on the right side, with four different left-handed shots having to play their off-side in 2023-24.

The Ducks have two aging defensemen, Cam Fowler and Radko Gudas. However, three of their young defensemen also won Defenseman of the Year in their respective junior leagues in 2022-23. The Ducks need a bridge to cover that divide, and the 30-year-old Brandon Montour would be perfect for that role.

Nashville Predators need to fill holes on defense

A relationship with the Nashville Predators is the most unlikely on this list. However, the Predators have four defensemen from last year's team under contract for next season. The 2024 offseason has a lot of free-agent right-handed defensemen, meaning the Predators can add some depth. Would Montour consider the Predators if the other teams in the market choose other options?

The Predators are losing right-handed defensemen Tyson Barrie and Alexandre Carrier to unrestricted free agency. They have Ryan Ufko in the system, who had six points in nine games in the AHL after leaving college. Ufko followed that by recording ten points in 15 games in the playoffs. However, the Predators may feel differently about Ufko's readiness to make the NHL jump.