While we wait to see what the Toronto Maple Leafs decide to do with what little space they have left, let’s take a look at some thoughts on their moves so far.
David Kampf and the benefits of a decent control line
We know what the Leafs were thinking with the addition of David Kampf. It was exactly the same logic behind acquiring Riley Nash before the trade deadline (timing of the injury at playoff time just didn’t work out with Nash).
The Leafs want a control center that can take defensive end draws and can be scouted for tough assignments. They have two top-six lines that should be maximized in terms of the scoring situations they’re deployed in – and should see their minutes cut down a bit overall in the case of Matthews and Marner. They also have an efficient fourth-line deep center / winger at Spezza who can take the draw from the defensive zone and come out of the ice, but he has always been used heavily in attacking zone situations, and for good Right – he’s committed to that part of the game more in his role in Toronto, but he’s not a defensive specialist and never has been.
Kampf and Nash both hit face-offs, preventing a lot on the ice, and aren’t buried in terms of how the game unfolds under a heavy defensive load (that’s a good read at The Athletic on Kampf becoming so reliable in his role under Jeremy Colliton in Chicago). The Leafs have some good pawns on the roster, but Alex Kerfoot, Pierre Engvall and Ilya Mikheyev can’t draw well and it’s possible none will be better used as a full-time center.
It may seem counterintuitive to add Kampf to $ 1.5million AAV (meaning he’s listed as a regular) when in-depth scoring seemed like an issue for the team at playoff time. , but ideally the Leafs can build an extra baseline. who plays an amount similar to that line of control with Kampf (who could play with Mikheyev and Engvall, possibly) and can score quite a bit.
What shouldn’t be lost in this discussion: The likes of MacKinnon, Rantanen, McDavid, Barzal, Ovechkin, Marchand, Pastrnak etc., generally start a little more of their shifts in the offensive zone than Matthews and Marner do. did last season. If we’re looking for the offensive 60-start zone in the league, it’s littered with elite attacking talent at the top, but Marner and Matthews aren’t at the top of the list. Sheldon Keefe leaned so heavily on these two all over the ice.
Anthony Petrielli has effectively explained why TOI’s mere demands on the pair are unlikely to be a lasting effective approach. A real line of control can be part of the solution in terms of lightening the load a bit while putting them in the right situations to produce massive amounts of offense.
The addition of Petr Mrazek
I rarely have much to say when it comes to analyzing goalkeepers. We can dig into the advanced statistics on Mrazek’s goals, above the expected high-risk save percentage – it shows up historically – and pretend that we know what the real predictors of success are for goalies moving from team to team, but for 1A / 1B types of goalies we all know it’s a mix of health, fitness and whatever the psychology / voodoo that determines whether or not a goalkeeper consistently plays well in a given season.
You can certainly quibble with the AAV or the term and wish it was one year less at $ 3.8 million or half a million less over three years, but when it comes to a position as important as goalie, it’s just a matter of getting the right one more. than these minor considerations. Few goaltenders play more than 60 games, and you need two good ones to finish at or near the top of the division and certainly to go far in the playoffs.
The $ 3.8million Mrazek bet is as good as any based on the numbers, his history of handling tandem situations and the fact that he will play in systems that are sufficiently comparable with a coach of defense (Dean Chynoweth) who is really familiar with building around Mrazek’s strengths. Besides performing the character check of what Mrazek is like teaming up with for the other tandem goalie and performing the goalie scouts eye test, that’s all about it. you can really bet.
We know the Leafs liked Mrazek, Ullmark and Kuemper among those on their shortlist. The Ullmark deal was way too rich, while the acquisition price of Kuemper (presumably with some retention) would have been extremely costly in terms of the acquisition cost (Colorado ditched Conor Timmins, a first-round pick and a third conditional). tower). It was a pretty sane choice, and now we’re waiting to see how health and performance shake between him and Campbell.
One point I’ll make here: Tandem goalie situations are common in the NHL now, but in Toronto there’s always that extra level of supervision that can make life a little more difficult and high stakes in the game. terms of decisions about who starts (especially in the playoffs), whether it should be fair in the territory’s share of keeping both goalies in shape or if they just need to get a warm hand up, and generally how the two goalies are managed throughout the year. There is a call for no controversy when it comes to just who starts most nights.
That’s the hand the Leafs got this offseason with how it went with Campbell and Andersen last season, so it’s a tandem.
Other quick notes
– Take a look at the money thrown at league defenders this week (even mediocre fifth and sixth defensemen!). Let’s go ahead and call the Holl vs. McCann debate settled.
– The big unknown we’re all waiting for is the Leafs’ latest addition (s) up front. We know they were in the Brandon Saad, which would have been a good choice at $ 4.5 million AAV, even if the contract length was uncomfortable at five years.
If we are talking about trading options, Reilly Smith ticks a lot of boxes in terms of fit: versatile (plays on either wing), defensively responsible, a legitimate top six producer who is a good bet for 20 goals and 50 points, plays a big role in both special teams, and has great playoff success in his recent past. If Vegas is still looking to lower its cap, a retention scenario that brings Smith to Toronto would make a lot of sense on paper. He signed for just one more season at $ 5 million.
Signature Tomas Tatar would take Kyle Dubas’ brass balls in terms of his willingness to add a player with such a bad playoff reputation to this Leafs team. But he’s an efficient and consistent regular season producer at 5v5 and a solid possession player. If he was cheap enough, you might see him register on one of the first six lines or even a sheltered scoring line next to Jason Spezza if that didn’t work higher up the roster.
Nick Ritchie brings a whole different element and could also fit in one of these three places.
– I am much more optimistic about the bet on Michael Bunting than I did about the weird done on Jimmy Vesey last offseason. Vesey doesn’t add anything if he doesn’t score (like he’s not preparing and finishing – he can’t create his own offense). Bunting is also an opportunistic goalscorer, but he plays hungrier and also brings an element of going strong at the net / finishing his failures.
I hear Anthony’s point about how important one of these bets like the one on Bunting actually is to the Leafs, and how that extra importance means it’s not just the typical low risk flyer. However, Bunting was only added for money in the FA pool, he can be buried in the AHL if needed, and he does not in any way prevent the Leafs from signing additional assist or the exchange later (because it won’t take up any cap space). For these reasons, it is always a good bet with low risk on the upside.
– My initial instinct was that the Leafs were going to start the year with Travis Dermott, Timothy Liljegren, Alex Biega and Rasmus Sandin as their four main options for the lower duo. Their interest in paying $ 1.5 million a year for Jani Hakanpaa (by Eric Engels) makes me wonder if they are still willing to invest a little more in a more established No.6, or if it was just this. player in particular that they were willing to do this for.