2015-16 Season Season Summary
Last July 1, the Maple Leafs took a flyer on PA Parenteau, who had one foot out of the League after falling out of favour in Montreal, signing him to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, with the thinking that he could produce if afforded ample opportunity on the right wing of a top six forward group that just lost Phil Kessel in a trade to Pittsburgh.
That played out pretty much as planned. After a slow start in which Parenteau notched just two points in his first 11 games, Parenteau posted a 20-goal, 41-point season over 77 games, good enough for first in goal scoring and second in points scoring among the Leafs’ anaemic forward group (behind only Nazem Kadri’s 45 points). Parenteau enjoyed a stretch of seven points in eight games in November following his cold start, a nine-points-in-10-games stretch in mid to late December, and a stretch of 14 points in 19 games between February 2 and March 21.
Parenteau played the fifth most minutes per game among Leaf forward regulars at 16:15 a game, and led Leaf regulars (minimum 20 games played) in powerplay time per game at 2:47/G. Parenteau served often as the Leafs’ zone entry guy for the top powerplay unit, trailing the play on the breakout before receiving the drop-pass in what’s become a common 5v4 breakout set-play throughout the league, and played the halfwall once the zone was set up. 7 of his 20 goals came by way of the man advantage, which led all Leaf forwards (likely wouldn’t have been the case if JvR stayed healthy).
At 5v5, Parenteau’s most common linemate was Tyler Bozak, with whom he shared 538 minutes of icetime at evens, and the paired managed a 53.7% Corsi For when on the ice together and a 52% goals share. The Leaf lineup was in constant flux between injuries and trades, but Parenteau played a fair bit with James van Riemsdyk and Bozak before JvR’s injury and his most common wing-mate was Shawn Matthias before his deadline trade. Parenteau’s 3.1 CF% RELTM was third on the team among forwards behind Brad Boyes and James van Riemsdyk.
Curiously, Parenteau – seemingly the most likely rental to be traded in the lead up to the deadline – was not moved despite Lou Lamoriello’s best efforts to relocate him to a contender. He missed a few games due to injury right around the deadline, which didn’t help the cause. Parenteau hit the 20-goal mark in the final game of the season, a 5-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils.
A report surfaced today suggesting the Maple Leafs have had “very preliminary” talks with the 33-year-old pending UFA about a new contract. This would appear to be nothing more than Leafs management carrying out its basic due diligence in finding out where Parenteau’s camp stands in advance of free agency.
Let’s be very clear on this point: P.A. Parenteau loved playing in Toronto. He loved playing for Mike Babcock. He believes in the direction of the organization and where it’s going. The only thing he didn’t like was not making the playoffs, and he would love to come back.
– Allan Walsh, PA Parenteau’s agent
The issue with signing Parenteau back to a raise in salary is that he received cushy minutes in Toronto’s top six and on PP#1, minutes that probably will not be available to him next season when the Leafs introduce a potentially significant amount of high-end offensive skill into their lineup – definitely Auston Matthews and William Nylander, probably Mitch Marner, and maybe Steven Stamkos. He scored seven powerplay goals last season and has good shot, but if Parenteau is leading your powerplay in ice time among forwards, it’s almost definitely a terrible unit — and it was, to the tune of a 15.4% success rate (29th in the NHL).
The other issue is, of course, term. For a 33-year-old who isn’t the fleetest of foot, it goes without saying the Leafs have to be very cautious there. Come July, Parenteau will sign with the first team willing give him a raise and a second year on his next contract.
The only way one could picture the Leafs reasonably bringing back Parenteau is if they don’t land Stamkos (which maybe keeps a powerplay spot open), if Parenteau is willing to come back on another one-year deal, and if Mike Babcock feels there’s still space in his lineup for Parenteau to play a veteran role on what’s shaping up to be a very-young Leaf team. Otherwise, he would likely get pushed into the Leafs’ bottom six with limited powerplay opportunity. While he appeared to buy into the Babcock program, he’s still not the type of player who is going to give the team good energy or defensive minutes as a role player down the lineup.