Breaking Down the Maple Leafs ‘Moneypuck’ Additions

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MAILMASTER ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 2: Daniel Winnik #34 of the Anaheim Ducks skates during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 2, 2014 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs offseason has had a central theme of analytics and ‘Moneypuck’ due to their off-ice hirings and firings, but they have also followed this mantra with their on-ice additions. One of, if not the, main original concepts of ‘Moneyball’ is finding undervalued players due to perceived flaws and maximizing your spend on quality contributors.

This clip from the movie sums it up nicely:

As discussed earlier in the summer, the Leafs brought in a collection of players with strong underlying numbers on relatively harmless contracts.

Shanahan’s “island of misfit toys,” in this case, refers to the signings of David Booth, Mike Santorelli, Daniel Winnik, and Stephane Robidas. They all have flaws that have been highlighted time and again, but they are solid contributors who the Leafs are, quite frankly, underpaying.

David Booth

Cap Hit and 2013-2014 production: One year, $1.1M. 66GP- 9G-10A-19PTS.
Cap hit comparables: Maxim Lapierre, Dale Weise, Joe Vitale, Ryan Reaves, BJ Crombeen, Brad Richardson, Cody McLeod.
Perceived Flaws: Booth’s biggest issues stem from a horrible concussion via a blindside hit from Mike Richards in 2009. Since then, Booth has not come too close to the 31 goals and 60 points he put up in 2008-09. Mason Raymond had a similar label on him last summer as he struggled to return from a fractured vertebra suffered in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. Beyond Booth’s injury history and drop in production, he has also come to be known as an interesting character, to put it kindly. John Tortorella called him a “weird dude,” and he has done some bizarre things on social media such as his hunting controversy” and a curious wedding picture.
Contributions: One of the knocks and radio-talk show comments you will probably hear all year regarding Dave Booth is that he’s “not the Florida Panthers” Dave Booth anymore. That will probably be true, but the Leafs are not paying Booth to be that guy. When Vancouver was paying him $4.25M a year and subsequently bought him out, they were paying him for that production, but the Leafs here and now? No. Booth had the worst shooting percentage of his pro career year last season, and he may be tenured at 29 (turning 30 this calendar year) but he is not old and broken. Brad Richardson is the only cap hit comparable listed that produced more goals and points than Booth, but otherwise we’re looking at a scrappy group of fourth liners; even Richardson, who had a decent year, has never shown the ability to produce the way Booth has. A simple 10 goal- 10 assist season would be bang for the buck with Booth, but he is capable of so much more. Booth went into the summer healthy for the first time in a long time, is on a prove-it deal coming off his worse full-season shooting percentage, and is one of the Leafs only effective board players with skill.

Mike Santorelli

Cap Hit and 2013-2014 production: 1 year, $1.5M. 48GP- 10G- 18A- 28PTS.
Cap hit comparables: Eric Fehr, Ben Smith, Trevor Lewis, Gregory Campbell, Cody McCormick, Marty Havlat, Nate Thompson.
Perceived Flaws: Santorelli has a few issues that stick out like a sore thumb. He has yet to be able to consistently produce year-to-year and he has been unable to stick with a team for an extended period of time. Besides his scoring outburst in half a season with Vancouver, the only other time he’s contributed at a legitimate rate was his one 20 goal season in Florida in 2010-2011, which was followed by a weak year that saw him get traded. When players struggle to consistently produce and hop around from team-to-team (this is fifth team in five years) it usually sets off alarm bells. Add in that he was originally a 6th round pick and that he’s on the smaller side, and that’s an uphill battle.
Contributions: Other than Eric Fehr, Santorelli out produced all his salary comparables points-wise and he only played 49 games while most of that list played relatively full seasons (save for Havlat and McCormick). If we prorate his numbers over an 82 game season, he would have been in the top 10 forwards scoring wise in free agency. Santorelli is also strong at the dot, winning 51.3% of his draws last season, and 60.8% the year before. However, he is able to play both the wing and center, and he was a penalty killing regular for the Canucks, playing 1:43/game shorthanded. He’s not overly big at 6’0, 190, but he’s fast and goes to the dirty areas. John Tortorella absolutely loved him. Santorelli has played 257 career games and put up 87 career points, which averages out to about 28 points per season. A healthy Santorelli playing to his average is worth $1.5M easily, but more than that, he brings a lot of other positives to the table such as skill and speed at the center position, penalty killing, faceoff prowess, and some scoring upside.

Daniel Winnik

Cap Hit and 2013-2014 production: 1 year, $1.3M, 76GP- 6G- 24A- 30PTS.
Cap hit comparables: Derek MacKenzie, Dan Paille, Mark Letestu, Erik Condra, Drew Miller, Vernon Fiddler, Mike Brown, Marcel Goc.
Perceived Flaws: Winnik has a few notable flaws that many Western Conference hockey fans can tell you about. Despite being 6’2, and nearly 210 pounds, he does not use his size consistently. Furthermore, he also struggles to put the puck in the net with just 49 career goals in 490 games. That means he is strictly a grinder and can’t really be relied upon to move up into the top six when injury hits. Beyond those two main sticking points, some also believe that Winnik has had a tendency of overvaluing himself, which could be why he moves around so frequently. Call it the Dominic Moore syndrome, if you will.
Contributions: It is true that Daniel Winnik does not physically pound on D-men with his imposing frame, but that does not mean he does not use his size consistently to his advantage. Having gone over Winnik’s tape the last few weeks, he excels at using his reach to close off passing lanes quickly in the defensively zone and to cycle in the offensive zone. He has a history of strong possession numbers against quality competition, but that does not include quality scoring numbers. Winnik’s career shooting percentage is 5.89%; being 29 with nearly 500 career games played, it’s safe to say that is what he is offensively at this point. However, that does not mean he doesn’t contribute offensively. Last season he had 30 points, the year before that he played at a 32 point pace, and the year before that he had 23. He’s a legitimate contributor who is also an NHL penalty killer in a 6’2 body and he can skate. Winnik is a legitimate third liner who has played all three forward positions and is good on the penalty kill, but he’s making fourth line money.

Stephane Robidas

Cap Hit and 2013-2014 production: 3 years, $9M total, 38GP- 5G- 5A- 10PTS.
Cap hit comparables: Robyn Regehr, Marc Methot, Barret Jackman, Bryce Salvador, Andrew Ference, Jan Hejda.
Perceived Flaws: Robidas is a good player and most people are aware of that, but his flaws come down to two pretty basic things:  He’s 37 and he just broke his leg twice in one season. It is fair to wonder whether his body will hold up over the 82 game grind to give the Leafs a large chunk of quality games played, and he is signed for three years, taking him to 40. At $3M, he is making too much money to just hope for the best. He needs to stay healthy and play well.
Contributions: Going into free agency, Robidas reminded me of one free agent years ago: Willie Mitchell. After the 2009-10 season, Mitchell hit free agency after a serious concussion caused him to miss the final 46 games of his season with Vancouver. Nobody wanted to give him any sort of term, but the Kings finally stepped up and did with a two year deal, and he went on to win two Cups in four years in LA playing a pivotal role. It is not exactly a secret that the Leafs brought down Robidas’ short term cap hit by adding term to his contract, but — at least for the upcoming season — a healthy Robidas playing over 20 minutes a night is worth more than $3M/year. There is a reason his flaws are generally limited to recent developments; he has done a lot of things very well for a long period of time. He’s not a superstar, but Robidas has consistently played in a shutdown role on the top pairing, been able to contribute enough offensively to help justify his minutes and role, and he’s a mean piece of business.  Robidas has averaged over 20 minutes of ice time per year for the last eight seasons running. Until this past season, he has played at least 72 games since the lockout (he played all 48 in the shortened year). Even at 37, Robidas was not showing signs of dropping out of the top 4, his minutes were still solid, and his play was still strong. You simply don’t find established top 4 D-men for $3M anymore (and most of his peers in his salary range are fringe top 4’s at best), but, like Mitchell, he can either stay healthy and make it worth it or get injured and come up empty.

The Leafs also made a few other moves with upside – Petri Kontiola is a wildcard with almost no risk and all reward. In a similar boat is Matt Frattin. Peter Holland is coming up after ripping up the AHL playoffs and along with the history of strong AHL numbers in general to suggest he’s going to be at least a reasonable NHL contributor.

As rookie and training camps are starting to come into focus, hockey talk is finally beginning to pick back up. Whether in conversation on or offline I have heard a lot of fans tell me the team hasn’t done much and will probably stink again, but I’m not sold on that by any means. I haven’t analyzed the East enough yet to predict them to make the playoffs confidently, but they have added a lot of value for minimal money, and they have retained most of the positives on the roster. They still figure to have top 10 goaltending, they have a top 10 scorer, they have some scoring depth, and now some actual depth, period. The defense will hope Robidas can stay healthy while Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly take a step in their developments. Randy Carlyle’s biggest challenge will be figuring out how everyone fits together and how to get the best out of this group from top to bottom.

  • MaxwellHowe

    Thanks Anthony, some great “Moneyballing”, which I guess is not as fun as it sounds

  • ushaped

    Nice article. I think the team is going to be much better this year due to the players added but more so due to the influence of Spott and Horaschek. I expect much better player usage on the PP and PK and I’m looking forward to seeing PH’s Nashville defensive systems make an impact. No writer has mentioned this but I see the defensive development of Kadri and Lupul to be critical to the team’s success. Lupul especially has been terrible on the backcheck and as a top 6 forward with the associated TOI, that cannot continue. I really hope Kadri has been practicing faceoffs. While his average seems OK, his success rate in critical situations hasn’t been great. I have a feeling Booth with be this year’s Raymond.

  • MaxwellHowe

    If Lupul hasn’t improved his D game by now…..
    I had thought he might improve if he switched to his natural right wing.  Then he played one game on the right side last season, and from what I could see he was actually worse, in terms of board play and backchecking.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    ushaped Thanks.

    This could be the year Kadri takes a big step, which will have a really big trickle down effect throughout the roster. Faceoffs are one thing especially that take young C’s sometime to figure out. He’s older and finally filling out his frame a little bit, so this is the time you usually see young C’s have their numbers swing upwards across the board. Curious to see if they give him a shot at playing with Phil Kessel full-time.

  • Rang

    Good work, a fair assessment of the additions. It’s the pro scouts job to ensure these were good signings, let’s see if they got it right.

  • Burtonboy

    Good article Anthony . I really like the looks of our potential bottom 6 . Fast, really fast and has skill when you include Holland in that group . Who knows how Kontiola will fare yet but he’s known to be a very skilled center as well . Lots of if’s ,and’s and but’s but if Carlyle can get his act together this might be a very interesting team to watch . If all goes well its a playoff team IMO but that’s a big if.

  • Doorman

    Great Post AP!!!   I really liked the Info dump on our New Guys!!!   Cant wait to see how it all works Out!!!

    Also.  Post your e-mail address here for those that want to get in on the MLHS FL!!!  

    Thanks  AP:  You in???

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Burtonboy Would like to see them be really creative with line combinations and try a lot of different things. IE- Breaking up the top line, breaking up Naz and Lupul. There’s a lot of moving parts, let’s see who works with what.

  • AndrewGalea

    island of misfit toys lol

  • rickpearce76

    Anthony Petrielli ushaped I think Kadri hits 65pts this year.

  • Burtonboy

    Anthony Petrielli Burtonboy Be interesting to see if the analytics dept has some impact on that . I wouldn’t expect so right off the bat but over time Carlyle and the other coaches might begin to trust some of the’re idea’s

  • Doorman

    Anthony Petrielli Burtonboy Creativity = unpredictability!!!  and The leafs were sure very predictable last year!!!

  • Burtonboy

    Doorman Anthony Petrielli Burtonboy I really like the speed of this team going forward . If they can get the’re zone exits straightened out they will be a hard team to handle . Speed can break up these neutral zones traps team like LA use so effectively

  • Doorman

    I guess the Big Question is whether Robidas Can stay healthy for the season!!!  Should make a big big difference!!!

  • ushaped

    MaxwellHowe I remember that! I actually think Lupul has been flying under the radar for most of his time here. He never gets called out for bad D. Not that I think using the media is an effective way to coach (it isn’t) but I think better defensive coaching and usage of Lupes can get him to buy in more. If not, maybe some spot benching can help send a message. Roster depth also gives the coach options for discipline as much as anything else.

  • ushaped

    rickpearce76 Anthony Petrielli ushaped If he gets more TOI. They shouldn’t need to shield him anymore. It’s time to see what he can do in all situations.

  • ushaped

    Anthony Petrielli ushaped If Kadri can improve his offensive faceoffs, I see him on the first PP with Kessel. But, they have to get away from the static configuration they’ve been using. Kadri is great when in motion, reading and reacting. Getting defenders to react to movement I think will help the PP and make use of Kadri’s strengths fully.

  • wiski

    Good stuff Anthony, you wrote this one right 😉 The only question for me is how Randy is gonna use this group of misfits.

  • Yaknowwhat

    Solid read AP….my expectations for Booth are very low….same goes for Frattin…I think Santorelli,Komarov and Kontiola can be useful additions though….fingers crossed that Robidas can stay healthy…..we’ll need him to eat some minutes on the back end…..

  • Claymish

    I love the Robidas signing, he’s an excellent mentor and the risk of him getting hurt isn’t a concern of mine. By signing a quality proven D-man who is likely to miss some games, you are ensuring rookies get an opportunity  to impress. If Robidas only plays 60 games then Granberg/ Holzer/ etc get a combined 40 games to show us what they got! 

    On that point, I hope Robidas is paired with Phanuef on his natural left side. That way a rookie won’t be paired up with Gardiner or Rielly. I predict Phanuef/ Robidas  Gardiner/ Polak   Reilly/ Franson.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Claymish Wasn’t a fan of Rielly-Franson last year but I’m willing to give them another look. They didn’t seem comfortable together to my eye.

  • MaxwellHowe

    While your pairings seem likely, if the goal is to reduce the pressure on Phaneuf, maybe its best to pair him with Gardiner and put Robidas with Rielly as the scond pairing. 
    And maybe this desire to reduce Phanuef’s hard minutes led to the speculation that he would play with Polak.  Polak as a first pair dman seems awful iffy, but then you’d have Robidas  / Gardiner and Rielly Franson (or Granberg if Frannie is traded) – that is much more balanced overall, and maybe the playing time would be balanced overall.  and then maybe you put out Phanuef – Robidas late in a game to nurse a lead

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Yaknowwhat We’ve been burned by the older European signings before… Don’t want to box these guys into the same category but just approaching Kontiola with no expectations yet an open mind.

  • HespelerOG

    APetrielli great insight. Leafs have improved the bottom 6 greatly. Look forward to reading more.

  • FantasyHockeyDK

    APetrielli LeafsNews Nice read, thanks for this

  • ShiftyD

    I, for one, like these signings in the context that we kept our good players, brought in players that can help up and down the lineup and improved cap allocations and flexibility. The cumulative effect of these players will be better than the negative thinkers believe I.M.O.
    Another season of experience at the pro level for our younger guys mixed with some solid veteran acquisitions, continued growth amongst our core players, change amongst the coaching staff and management group……… I think we could have a very good season. Not solid contenders yet by any stretch but still moving forward.

  • Airfreshener

    MaxwellHowe Having more balanced pairings would mean a reduced load on Phanuef wouldn’t it?

  • AussieLeafOfTheGTA

    When it comes to the pre-season games I’d be interested to see the following forward line combinations tried out:
    Lupul-Kadri-Kessel
    JVR-Kontiola-Santorelli
    Booth-Bozak-Clarkson
    Komarov-Holland- Winnik

    Need to determine if Kadri can be the 1C and have Bozak situated where he belongs – as a 3C.
    I agree with AP as Kontiola is a wildcard but I believe he was used by the Finnish National Team as a Top 6 Center last year in the Olympics and the World Championship.  Let’s see what he does as the 2C. 
    Have the experiment of Lupul & JVR to try out the 1LW and 2LW positions.  Clarkson, Frattin, Santorelli should be used to try out as the 2RW and 3RW positions.  Komarov and Booth should try out for the 3LW and 4LW spots with Winnik and Aston battling for the 4RW position.

    It’ll definitely be an interesting camp and see how it all shakes out.

  • MaxwellHowe

    well yeah, that was my point, I probably didn’t make it clear

  • dlb Mad

    ShiftyD 
    better suited to cope with injuries and suspensions
    we’ll have a good sense by season’s end of just how good our core group is and if there’s a chance we can build a contender with the majority of them as part of the leadership group.
    by the trade deadline we could be buyers this year.  that’s partially frightening and partially encouraging.

  • JupJupLeafs17

    APetrielli I agree with your take on Robidas. Loved the “Dominic Moore syndrome” comment and also think the Leafs have improved a fair bit.

  • Bring the Cup Home

    great f’n article here.  i really liked how it laid out the skinny on these new additions the leafs made.  well done!  got me excited that one or two of these guys may very well excel far beyond their cap hit, while undoubtedly one or two of them will be pretty much useless.  we have a lot of these small cap role players on our payroll now and as the article summarized, it’s on randy now to make it work.

  • Bring the Cup Home

    okay….so here’s my take on the upcoming season:
    – VERY good top line.  bozak or not, our top line has proven to be one of the best in the league when they’re on and i see no reason for them to not have another great year
    – MUCH better bottom six.  if randy can find the right mix down there our bottom six could be vastly improved over last year
    – Defense is a question mark.  A lot will be needed from Gardiner and Rielly as they are now cornerstones of our D and need to play above their age and have impact for our D-corps to be considered above average.  Franson is another that needs to find the game he had two years ago. 

    – VERY good goaltending.  no concerns there.
    – 2nd line will make or break our season.  If Kadri and Lupul can put up pretty big numbers and they can find a winger who helps and doesn’t hurt that line we could be playoff bound.  if our glaring weakness of 2nd line winger isn’t filled adequately by someone and if kadri doesn’t progress and if lupul is injured a bunch, this could send us into 10th place or worse as we’d be a one-line team at that point.

  • dlb Mad

    Bring the Cup Home 
    i don’t think we’ll see a fire sale at the deadline unless we’re far out of a playoff spot.  and with the players we have, even worst case, i just can’t fathom being BUF bad.

  • dlb Mad

    Lupul-Bozak-Kessel
    JVR-Holland-Clarkson (because Holland and Clarkson have great starts)
    Komarov-Kadri-Kontiola (the Finns show they’re skilled, saavy, physical and can unleash Naz)
    Winnik-Santorelli-Booth … on the FOURTH LINE ARE YOU KIDDING ME? i think that depth will give teams fits.
    nothing wrong with Ashton or Frattin imo. i think they’re both skilled and capable of playing in many different roles.
    i just think that Holland-Clarkson and Komarov-Kontiola are the key players who, if they play like core players, contribute to a winner eventually. Leo and David need to make us forget their CAP hit.
    if Booth and Santorelli have good years, they’re just players that feel like they’re on the way somewhere else (and Ashton, Frattin, Marlies fill that void when they do move).
    if we’re buyers at the deadline, maybe Booth is part of the trade that brings in the “Gaborik”, for instance.

  • NinetyThree

    Bring the Cup Home I was thinking about this on my way to work and agree. But would also like to add I feel a lot depends on Robidas. If he gets hurt then we are counting on Gardiner taking that next step to be a top pairing d; now I like Gardiner but not sold he’s there yet. I love Rielly but don’t want to rush him either. (Not considering a trade to fill need in this scenario).

    My gut tells me Robidas will be fine though, fingers crossed.

  • Czarofleafnation

    one thing about Winnik that I think will work in our favor is that his whole career he has had to face the monster forwards of the western teams.
    Coming to the east I think he will have an easier time fronting up against the other teams top forwards. 
    If that will be his role; that is.

  • dlb Mad

    lots of question marks on the team.  but my reason for optimism stems from thinking all we need from the players is what they’re capable of.  Kontiola is the one big uncertainty for me since it’s a different measuring stick with no real method of conversion.
    Kadri has shown brilliance.  just need more.  Frattin, Holland, Rielly, Gardiner … the list goes on for this category.
    health will be key in some positions.  in net, for one.  can’t have two guys go down, but we have TWO guys to start with.
    lots of questions.
    the new guys have all been solid players before.  we’re not asking them to exceed their abilities.  but wouldn’t that be nice.

  • Mattmark

    Lavishing this kind of analysis on these additions is proof positive that you need to be a connoisseur of the near-nothing to be a Leafs fan.  Even if we had every one of the above-listed cap hit comparables on the roster, we’d still be in trouble.  I suppose MLSE will gain some satisfaction from getting their money’s worth from these guys, if it works out that way, but it would be more enjoyable for the fans if they were getting their money’s worth from players worth paying a bit more.

  • Mattmark

    dlb Mad Bring the Cup Home What could we sell?  Certainly none of our off-season acquisitions.  Letting go of the only players on the squad anyone would be likely to want would simply complete the destruction, so it’s hard to see how we could benefit from any kind of sale.

  • Waiting4LSC

    Mattmark But Mattmark, lavishing this kind of analysis embodies passion for the MLHS fans and the Leafs themselves. You points are well taken, but AP is making good lemonade here. Seeing these guys perform in Blue and White will be very encouraging. Won’t address why we haven’t acquired talent, but for me, I really appreciate underdogs proving themselves, so there is an added bonus for me this year. (Posted with respect)

  • Mattmark

    Waiting4LSC Mattmark Oh, I quite agree with you… I was actually being complimentary to the fan base.  We appreciate some pretty subtle stuff here.  We have to! 😉

  • dlb Mad

    Mattmark
    certainly not any of our off-season acquisitions?  impossible to be so sure.  it’s crtainly possible a guy like Booth becomes a 30 goal scorer again AND we also don’t do so well in the standings for various other reasons.  ie.  Phanuef, Kessel, Reimer and Bernier get hurt.
    and what could we sell if things go South that could benefit us?  well, if you’re a believer in building through the draft then there are plenty of players outside of Rielly who playoff teams would trade for, and plenty of them could easily gather us some “playoff position” first round picks.  if we’re not a playoff team then we’d be adding those mid to low picks to our own high picks.
    it’s easy to be negative about anything.  i don’t understand your point.

  • dlb Mad

    Mattmark
    it’s the reason why Gunnarsson and Kulemin were so revered

  • Waiting4LSC

    As with every year I get excited for the Leafs. No lofty expectations, but definitely hope for strong individual performances. Everything starts with my boy, the one and only Phil. Then I look to JVR for a great supporting effort. Next I look to Mr. MR for wow moments. Then I want Jake to silence his detractors. I want Reims to redeem, and Bernier to Cujo the net. Then I look to Naz to be a presence this year. Leo the Leaf-Heart always make me smile. No matter what, he’s going to be banging, chirping, and hopefully scoring. Next, I look to Luups to stay injury free and produce what he is very capable of doing. Fratts of old will have me cheering. Of the new guys I want to see Santa scoring and bringing cheer to the ACC. Then there is always Nylander to watch.  Not all is lost.

  • dlb Mad

    we fill out the lines and know it’s not a Cup contender. but then you look at one or two of those positions and make upgrades and suddenly these meh players are good enough in their roles for any Cup contending team.
    who’s our 2nd line right-winger? Frattin? Booth? how about if you plug Gaborik in there at a traded deadline?
    sometimes these guys are means to an end. we need another elite forward and another elite defenseman, sure. but i don’t think we’ve played too many seasons lately with quality “bottom 6″ players, do you? maybe they’re no better than Brent and Crabb and Boyce, players who fans appreciated. but they could be.
    as long as there’s potential, what’s the point in poo’ing on it?  to be able to say i told you so?  i find that boring.

  • APetrielli

    FantasyHockeyDK LeafsNews Thanks Darren. Cheers.

  • APetrielli

    JupJupLeafs17 Don’t think a lot of people realize how good Robidas is, even if he is old. I have a lot of time for Dom Moore. Love him.

  • Anthony Petrielli

    Mattmark I think the three forwards they acquired for a combined $3.9M are going to offer $7-10M worth of contributions, which is a pretty big deal in the cap world.

  • JupJupLeafs17

    APetrielli Moore’s a beauty. I know the negotiation you were referencing. Robidas was considered for the Olympic team in 2010. No slouch.