The Maple Leafs front office was busy as the free agency flood gates opened yesterday afternoon.
A day that included five signings (1 RFA, 4 UFA) from Shanahan and co. was largely overshadowed by a trade that sent Phil Kessel (well, 85% of him), Pittsburgh’s 2nd round pick in 2016 (previously acquired for Winnik at the trade deadline), Tim Erixon and Tyler Biggs to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a package that included the likes of 2014 1st round pick Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington, a lottery-protected 1st round pick in 2016, a 3rd round pick in 2016 and Nick Spaling. In this piece, we will divert our attention away from the Kessel fiasco for a moment and examine Toronto’s inconspicuous yet calculated plunge into this year’s free agent pool.
Matt Hunwick – Defenseman – 30 years old – $2,400,000 / 2 years
The Leafs kicked things off by signing veteran blueliner Matt Hunwick to a two year deal. Hunwick finished the 2014-15 campaign ranked 7th among Rangers defensemen in even strength ice time. A quick look at his underlying numbers suggest that his play definitely warranted more faith from New York’s coaching staff last season. Matt Hunwick’s linemates managed an imposing CF% of 53.0% with him and an unassertive 48.8% away from him. Looking at his performance since 2012 tells a similar tale about his effectiveness. Below are Hunwick’s closest cohorts from 2012-13 to 2014-15 based on their impact on their linemates Corsi as well as their individual scoring rates…
Hunwick will likely serve as an overachieving 5/6 for the Leafs assuming he plays out the duration of his deal with the team. There is a chance that he will be flipped for a draft pick if (or when) the Leafs are out of the playoff race by the time the 2016 trade deadline draws near.
Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau – Right Wing – 32 years old – $1,500,000 / 1 year
The Leafs next move was inking PAP to a one year deal worth $1.5 million. This deal is reminiscent of the Winnik/Santorelli signings of yesteryear (expect a similar fate for Parenteau at the 2016 trade deadline if all goes as planned). Parenteau ranked 12th among Habs forwards in 5v5 TOI last season due to a combination of injuries and a lack of trust from head coach Michel Therrien. Parenteau has managed to score 1.43 primary points/60 minutes at even strength since 2012 which ranks ahead of all current Maple Leafs forwards not named Joffrey or Nazem. Here are his closest comparables from 2012-13 to 2014-15 when considering possession and production…
It’s evident that the Leafs are going to be paying Parenteau a fraction of what he’s worth if he manages to stay healthy. With Kessel gone, PAP tops the Leafs depth chart at right wing and will definitely see his fair share of ice time next season.
Richard Panik – Left/Right Wing – 24 years old – $975,000 / 1 year
Amidst the UFA frenzy, Richard Panik was re-upped for another year at $975 K. Panik’s production has been lackluster thus far at the NHL level but he’s been solid defensively (CA60 TmRel of -4.61, last 3 years) and has shown flashes of skill.
Mark Arcobello – Center/Right Wing – 26 years old – $1,100,000 / 1 year
At around 4:45 pm the Maple Leafs front office made another move signing forward Mark Arcobello. The Leafs are now the FIFTH team to own Arcobello’s rights since the start of the 2014-15 NHL season. It’s surprising that Mark has bounced around so much considering his passable performance at the NHL level. His statistical cohorts over the last 3 years are depicted below…
Yet another smart, cost effective signing considering Arcobello’s comparables. The diminutive forward will likely play in a bottom six role with the Leafs in 2015-16, hoping to gain some stability moving forward.
Daniel Winnik – Left Wing – 30 years old – $5,000,000 / 2 years
Toronto capped off their day by bringing hometown forward Daniel Winnik back into the fold. The Leafs are obviously familiar with Winnik’s work ethic and his ability to dish the puck (His 0.83 first assists/60 from 2012-13 to 2014-15 ranks only behind Kadri among current Leaf). Winnik is another strong possession player who should help the team push play up ice. His closest comparable forwards are as follows…
There’s little doubt that Winnik makes any hockey team better. He’ll comfortably slot just about anywhere in the lineup and can handle a heavy workload when down a man (2nd in the NHL in 4v5 ice time last season). A cerebral workhorse who is definitely a welcomed addition at a modest cap hit of $2.25 million per year.
Regardless of what you think about the Kessel deal, there isn’t any doubt that the Toronto Maple Leafs landed a few talented free agents at more than fair price tags yesterday. They currently own 11 draft picks heading into the 2016 NHL draft and now have a surplus of productive, affordable talent that can be parlayed into a few additional picks between now and next June (if all goes as planned). There’s an overt trend developing in the type of players being brought into the organization and there’s no questioning the teams devotion to implementing data into the decision making process.