All in all, there weren’t any miracles performed that we can be over the moon about yesterday, but the hope is that there was some incremental improvements made and — perhaps more importantly — some major mistakes avoided with the type of money that was doled out to the likes of Brooks Orpik and Dave Bolland.
We’ll start with the new acquisition I’m most excited about.
Stephane Robidas has been a warrior in Dallas. He wears the evidence on his face. Maple Leafs management felt there was a need for more leadership, character, competitiveness and experience on this team, and the way to fix it is to bring in a few players who can provide those elements along with a meaningful, positive on-ice contribution that addresses an area of need.
In Robidas, they may well have found that sweet spot in the form of a solid, experienced complement for Morgan Rielly or Jake Gardiner on the second pair. Robidas has been a 20-22 minute defenceman who can handle tough assignments in the past; it’s just a matter of whether or not he bounces back to form at his ripe age following his second leg break in the span of a year. That’s not an injury that shouldn’t heal up (not like he broke his leg in the same spot twice), but it’s another battle scar on an aging 5’11, 190-pound body that has played a rugged game for 15 seasons in the NHL.
Robidas isn’t a highly-skilled puck rusher and mover, but he moves efficiently, has a solid first pass, has a strong compact build, owns a hard shot, and battles like hell; if he’s still got enough left in the tank (and that’s the obvious big risk), he’s been one of the missing ingredients on this blueline we’ve yearned for the past couple of trade deadlines. He should be able to help Dion out on and off the ice, and he’ll have Randy Carlyle’s trust.
$3 million is a slight hair trim on his previous $3.3 million salary and definitely agreeable for a July 1 salary, but it’s the extra year on the term that’s concerning. Worth the risk.
Matt Frattin is an interesting reclamation project for the Maple Leafs, who know the player quite well and are likely in tune with what’s held him back from taking the next step. On the surface, the issues with his game appear to be between the ears, because there’s an impressive physical package here; he’s solidly built with a good stride, and has some puck skills to go along with a good shot.
Jerry D’Amigo represents an unfortunate loss of a capable PKer and honest-as-it-gets fourth line option, with a little bit of potential to grow into a little more. What the Leafs are thinking is that it’s a cheap venture (Frattin signed for 2-years, 800k AAV) on a player with, ostensibly, more upside.
It should be noted the Kings were through with this player rather quickly after giving him an opportunity up the lineup early on, and Columbus was looking to move him rather than give him a contract after just a couple of months there, having acquired him in the Marian Gaborik trade. It’s possible the Leafs gave up a three-years-younger homegrown foot soldier who can kill penalties and provide a little secondary scoring in exchange for a player who is just never going to put it together.
And maybe Frattin never would’ve left in the first place if he just buried the 5-1 put-away goal versus Bos– let’s not go there.
We all love Leo Komarov. Tough to play against, finishes every check, draws penalties and can kill penalties, and does it all with a “why you heff to be mad” comportment.
I think we’re all also unanimous on the contract being a little rich. At $2.95 million AAV, we’re looking at the closest cap comparables in the likes of Jamie McGinn, Joel Ward, Michael Grabner, Sean Bergenheim… There’s a certain level of expected secondary offensive output at that figure which hadn’t yet manifested itself in Komarov’s brief 48-game NHL stint. And then there’s the term; while Komarov seems like the type of guy who will go through a wall to prove he deserves the faith and the dollars invested in him, as a general rule I prefer to keep players like Komarov hungry on shorter-term deals.
Unquestionably, there’s something to be said for this Leafs team needing to — excuse the cliche – play the game the right way. The Leafs badly need a consistent cycle and energy element out of the lines in their bottom six if they’re to change the tone of their team following the stories of Leafs receiving the embarrassing label of “easiest team to play against” in the dressing rooms of their opponents last year. Faulty, passive systems that allowed for a record-number of shots were a part of that, but not the full picture. For as bad as David Clarkson was last season, he can’t be left on an island as a cycle player who wants to put in the work down low.
The right mix of players can yield scoring by-committee (as Ken Hitchcock says — play the right way and the points will come), but there obviously has to be a measure of scoring talent in there somewhere. Frattin absolutely has the capability and Komarov might based on his KHL production, but if Kulemin’s gone (not a sure bet) as well as Mason Raymond (who was a little more than a third-liner last season, but the point remains), the Leafs are going to be banking on a track record of production that simply isn’t present with these latter two like it is the former pair.
Granted, the Leafs aren’t done their summer moves, may still be looking into a few wing options and will almost definitely add a center (could Nik Kulemin still factor into this equation as a versatile option at both positions?). I’ll wait to say anything further until we have a more complete picture.
@Loric76 I don't like change.
@Loric76 Maybe lock off the comments on threads once a new thread pops up? Cause at times you have people carrying conversations in like 4 different places.
@CanuckUKinToronto Someone below thought he was signed in the KHL for one more season.
Easy to say sign Brad Richards for 2m. Doubt he wants to come to Toronto. Let alone sign for 2m in Toronto.
@RandomScrub Its a pain in the ass that every time a decent player signs somewhere for X we have to hear "Why didn't the leafs sign this guy for X+1". As if guys don't just decide where they want to play based on other factors like the city, their possible linemates, their prospects of getting a cup run, etc. Everyone should jsut want to come play for a guy who can't work a toaster and a team that's been to the playoffs 1 time in 10 years.
@LeafsGuru He's been through about 6 org's now. He needs to prove himself.
@Cameron19 I woulda paid that for him quite happily.
if you want to feel better about the Leafs, read what the Buffalo Bills fans are going through haha. Fuck my life
@Yan28 Ok everyone...redo all the line ups with Leivo and Broll in them!
JvR - Bozak - Kessel
Lupul - Kadri - Vrbata
Komarov - Berglund - Clarkson
Hartikainen - Holland - Frattin
Gardiner - Phaneuf
Rielly - Robidas
Percy - Polak
I don't think some are fully appreciating the potential of Holland. I'm not saying he's going to be a star, but I think it's very unlikely that a 22/23 year old tears apart the playoffs in the AHL like he did and then can't play in the NHL. He's going to be a good player. If he were a Detroit prospect, I think there would be the opposite approach as far as jumping to conclusions, or making assumptions goes.
I get the sense some have that he is a waste on the 4th line - because we see how the Leafs approach the 4th line.
@Cameron19 Ideally he projects as a second line center though....3rd and 4th line duties probably not best for his development.
@MaxwellHowe Holland playing 4th line minutes with a couple of plugs is not the logical way to develop him..
@Yaknowwhat @Cameron19 If we put together a 3rd line with some speed and bit of skill that could actually contribute to offense then it would be ideal. Many young centres around the league start in the 3 slot.
The leafs have just been pathetic in their attempts to use 3rd and 4th lines in the last number of years.
@Cameron19 agree, watched him a lot in guelph, and have been saying all along he has potential to be a solid number 2 centre. when the storm played kitchener or london, he was often more dominant than Kadri.
Would this work:
JVR Bozak Kessel
Leivo Kadri Lupul
Frattin Komarov Clarkson
Broll McKegg Ashton
(Holland fills in on the 2nd line in case of injury or package him with Reimer and Franson for a top line center)
@Yaknowwhat Why would McKegg make the team ahead of Holland?
Correct me if I'm wrong but didn't Lupul play horribly on the RW last year for that short time he was used there?
@LeafsGuru Pretty sure he prefers playing on the LW.
@Yaknowwhat @Cameron19 Just depends how you deploy your 4th line. All your 4 of your lines should really just have one goal - get the puck in the offensive zone and wear the opponent down. It's just the way that is achieved that differs from line to line.
The Kessel line is going to have to rush it down there, and then any cycle they establish will have to be done with speed, much the way Chicago does it. Watch their top guys cycle - there is no physicality in their method at all.
The Kadri line is going to have to cycle the old-fashioned way, with Kadri being the set-up man.
Your 3rd and fourth lines have to carve out their own identity, but as long as they're adhering to the larger goal, it shouldn't matter what skill-set each player has. If Holland only puts up 18 points, but is consistently effective at contributing that zone time, there won't be any issues.
Just my take.
So basically frattin was the back up plan if clarkson sucks again and if Clarkson does well can be used on the 3rd line or 4th line
@LeafsGuru Not just that. Frattin has more possible upside over D'Amigo. We all love Jerry D but he was a 4th liner. Frattin if he can get his game going can play up to the 2nd line.
I don't think the Leafs were eager to trade Frattin last year, Nonis just wanted Bernier and, in retrospect, who can blame him?