The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed 28-year-old left winger Tyler Ennis to a one-year, $650,000 contract, the club announced on Friday.
After joining the Minnesota Wild alongside Marcus Foligno as part of the Marco Scandella trade to Buffalo last offseason, Ennis was bought out during the recent buyout window ahead of the final season in his five-year, $4.6 million contract originally signed by the Sabres in the 2014 offseason.
Once a regular 20-goal threat, Ennis has seen his career sidetracked over the past three years by multiple concussions and a double hernia surgery, among other injuries.
Injury troubles of that magnitude made it especially hard for the highly-skilled, lightning-quick Ennis to play the kind of courageous game that made him effective and productive despite his pint-sized 5’9, 170-pound frame, one that relied on his ability to cut inside on defenders and jump into holes in coverage in trafficked areas around the net and slot.
David Staples at the Edmonton Journal tracked Ennis’ injury history recently and charted his career production pre and post injury trouble, beginning with a groin injury in October 2015. Prior to, over the first 354 games of his career, Ennis recorded 217 points (0.61 points per game) – the scoring rate of a capable top-six winger. Since that date, Ennis has played 138 games and tallied just 41 points (0.3 points per game).
The former Sabres first-round draft pick in 2008 has played just a combined 156 games in the past three years, tallying 46 points. In 2017-18 for Minnesota, Ennis saw just 11:58/game in ice time, including 34 seconds a game in power play time, and finished with 22 points in 74 games — his first relatively full season since 2014-15 in Buffalo.
With this addition, the Leafs have taken a flyer on a talented player who isn’t over the hill age wise, by any means, but needs to rediscover consistent health (he will be something of a project for the Leafs sports science department) and his playing confidence. He adds options at a position (LW) where they had been looking for scoring depth after the departure of James van Riemsdyk.
Up front it looks like the Leafs are going into the season like this:
— Anthony Petrielli (@APetrielli) July 6, 2018
One factor that is working in the favour of any winger who plays for the Leafs this year (and going forward) is their depth down the middle and the calibre of center he is going to skate with. Ennis isn’t guaranteed a top-nine spot next to Nazem Kadri or John Tavares next year — after Patrick Marleau and Zach Hyman, Andreas Johnsson will also be in the mix — but after playing just 11 minutes and change primarily on Matt Cullen’s wing last season, he is going to get some looks next to some very good-to-elite pivots as he looks to rebuild his career.
Tyler Ennis Scouting Report
via the 2017 McKeen’s Yearbook
Dynamo is an undersized playmaker with skilled, lightning quick hands .. skating is a strength – fast and slippery with exceptional lateral agility .. can shift lanes as quickly as shift gears, making him sneaky and elusive 1-on-1 .. knows how to utilize his change of gears .. cuts and reverses with the puck on a dime – executes difficult maneuvers in full gear .. facilitates a strong outlet game, with strong skating routes, using his blistering pace to get into prime spots to receive pucks .. still gets erased by bigger, stronger foes or by those who successfully contain his time and space .. lurks on the edges of battles in support – and can be the high F3 in the offensive zone .. plays a brave game in spite of a diminutive frame.
Tyler Ennis StatisticsDate of Birth: Oct 06, 1989
Place of Birth: Edmonton, AB, CAN
Height: 5'9" / 174 cm
Weight: 174 lbs / 79 kg
Drafted: 2008 round 1 #26 overall by Buffalo Sabres
2008 round 1 #26 overall by Buffalo Sabres
Statistics provided by Eliteprospects.com
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