The Leafs announced the resigning of Colton Orr and Drew MacIntyre yesterday.
Orr played 44 of 48 regular season games with the Leafs before dressing for all seven playoffs games. For his efforts, he’s getting a 2-year deal worth 1.85M total. His 925K salary is the most you can make while still being able to be buried if waived and sent to the AHL under the new CBA.
This past season Orr led the league in penalty minutes and was second in fighting majors. According to hockeyfights.com’s ratings, he won nine of those 14 fights.
Of the players who finished top 10 in fighting majors this year, only Orr, Parros and Konopka are over 30 years old (Orr turned 31 this year), so it’s fair to wonder how much longer he’ll be able to serve this role. He did lose his last three fights of the season.
The Leafs also have RFAs Mark Fraser and Frazer McLaren, who both finished in the top 10 in fighting majors as well.
Throughout the season, the Leafs played both Orr and McLaren at the same time on the fourth line, and although they weren’t much of a factor either way – they didn’t get scored on a ton, even though they did get dominated frequently — playing both for an 82 game season this time around could present more problems.
McLaren is an RFA right now so we don’t know what direction they’re going to go with him, but Orr and McLaren both averaged less than seven minutes of ice time per night, and that happening over an 82 game season will take a toll on the top nine having to be overplayed after a while.
So the question becomes, will the Leafs only play one enforcer per game moving forward? The original assumption was that Leo Komarov would also play on the fourth line along with McClement and one of Orr or McLaren, but that’s no longer an option.
Claude Loiselle was on TSN radio yesterday and did speak to being confident that the Leafs could replace Komarov. As a guy who killed penalties, played almost 14 minutes a night, and played both wings plus a little center, he can’t reasonably be replaced by reverting back to dressing two enforcers.
The Leafs do have Jerry D’Amigo and Carter Ashton in the system chomping at the bit to play on the Leafs. Both are 21 years old and have played penalty killing and defensive roles on the Marlies for the last year. You have to figure the odds are that one of those two will round out the fourth line with McClement and Orr at this point.
If you look at Toronto’s division, almost every team has an enforcer: Boston has Thornton, Buffalo has Scott, Ottawa has Kassian, Florida has Parros, Tampa Bay has Crombeen and while neither Montreal or Detroit have pure enforcers, they do have White, Prust and Tootoo between them.
We can debate the use of enforcers until our faces go blue, but we always knew Carlyle was going to have at least one around. Now it’s a matter of if it’s going to be one or two, and how much they’re going to factor into things.
Leafs sign Drew MacIntyre
Not to be forgotten, the Leafs also locked up starting Marlies goalie Drew MacIntyre to a one year, two-way deal. He’s turning 30 this month, but he was a rock for the Marlies last season and was one of the main reasons for their success.
He’s a good goalie, has had some success in Toronto, and is a good veteran to have in the organization to hopefully mentor Garret Sparks.
Stabilizing the goaltending position in the minors allows players to develop in an easier environment in which mistakes don’t always lead to goals against. The Marlies are going to be a young team with players such as McKegg, Ross, Biggs, Carrick, Leivo, Broll, Crescenzi, MacWilliams, Percy and Granberg all vying for spots on the team. Having some stability in net will be helpful.
Kadri, Colborne, Franson, Fraser and Gunnarsson are all still RFAs while MacArthur, Bozak, Kostka and O’Byrne are pending UFAs. With the draft and free agency under a month away, things are only going to get more interesting.