Morning Mashup: Do we need more Crabb?


Photo: Bridget Samuels, Toronto Life

The Maple Leafs, like last summer, don’t have much in the way of unrestricted free agents to decide on (their big year in that regard comes after next season), with only Jonas Gustavsson, for whom the writing is on the wall (gonzo), and the Alaskan King Crabb himself, Joey Crabb, to consider re-upping.

Late July of last summer, the Maple Leafs re-signed Crabb to a cheap one-year, two-way deal. Whether or not you see Crabb’s season as a one off and a product of enhanced minutes toward the end, he posted career highs of 11 goals, 15 assists at 26 points in 67 games and in that regard it was a useful little one-year re-signing in the end.

It’s not unreasonable to call Joey Crabb’s rise in production expected given the hike in minutes he received following Carlyle’s arrival. A look at some advanced statistical metrics suggest Crabb’s offensive pace could also have been an outlier:

As for Crabb, it becomes a bit of a different beast. His on-ice shooting percentage this year is well above his previous two seasons with Toronto (8.98%) and Atlanta (8.33%). However, his PDO this year managed to be lower than last season’s 1009, thanks in no small part to playing in front of the Vezina version of James Reimer. If we suppose that the goaltending will be league average next year for the Leafs and also that Crabb’s on-ice shooting percentage will lower to expected values, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that we many have witnessed the best year that Crabb is going to have in the NHL this season.

Working in Crabb’s favour, he did post four game winning goals, second on the team next to Kessel’s 6, and two shorthanded goals, tied with Dave Steckel for the team lead. He played a role on a penalty kill that finally, after three seasons of ineptitude under Ron Wilson and a near-historically bad first half of the 2011-12 season, turned it around big time in the second half of the season.

Crabb has also said his preference is to stay with the Leafs and he’s willing to return on a one or two-year deal again, likely with a modest raise from his $750,000 last season up to around a million per.

Brian Burke and co. have a lot of wasted dollars in their bottom six as it currently stands, as it became somewhat of an island of misfit (and overpriced and/or broken) toys last season. Crabb, to his credit, was not one of them, and money alone should not be an issue. Cap wise, Crabb likely won’t be more expensive than an entry level replacement. Jerry D’Amigo, should he make the team for instance, would carry a cap hit of 1.03 million. Nazem Kadri’s cap hit is over 1.7, Joe Colborne would cost the Leafs 1.1 million against the cap, Matt Frattin carries a 1.3 million hit, and Carter Ashton sits at 1.04. You can add Leo Komarov’s name to the list, and he’ll likely come in at a similar figure on a one-year entry-level deal.

However, saving the Standard Player Contract slot and letting the kids duke it out for the position vacated by Crabb is probably the popular opinion. Further, a bottom six that needs to get more physically intimidating isn’t exactly helped along by Crabb’s just-ok hit total of 100 on the season.

Burke needs to open up room in the bottom six for advancement for the kids and make at least one veteran addition in an attempt to turn the bottom six meaner and tougher to play against. Barring the possibility that Carlyle is truly in love with Crabb’s game, he’s neither a developing kid nor a solution to that need. I don’t see enough value-added with Crabb beyond a decent PPG rate for a bottom sixer, one that may or may not be repeatable.

I’d let Crabb crawl walk, would you?



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