In addition to confirming the Kenny Agostino, Kevin Gravel, and Nick Shore signings that were initially reported on July 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced the additions of forwards Pontus Aberg, Tyler Gaudet, Kalle Kossila, and Garrett Wilson today.
The Toronto Maple #Leafs have signed 7 free agents:
Pontus Aberg (1yr 700k)
Kenny Agostino (2yr $737.5k)
Tyler Gaudet (1yr 2-way $700k)
Kalle Kossila (2yr 2-way $700k)
Nick Shore (1yr $750k)
Garrett Wilson (1yr $725k)
Kevin Gravel (1yr $700k)https://t.co/BPt2vFET34
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) July 24, 2019
In Kale Kossila and Tyler Gaudet, both 26, the Leafs are adding some productive center/forward depth for the Marlies, who lost number-one center Chris Mueller (Syracuse/Tampa Bay) and veteran forward Colin Greening (retirement) this offseason. Kossila has been close to a point-per-game performer for the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim’s affiliate) the past few seasons while spending a few cups of coffee in the NHL with the Ducks (19 games, three points). Gaudet, who last played with Milwaukee, brings some size — 6’3, 205lbs — penalty killing ability, and secondary scoring (25 points in 50 games last season) to the table at the AHL level.
Garret Wilson and Pontus Aberg are both possibilities to make the Leafs out of camp on a left-wing that lost Patrick Marleau this offseason and will be without Zach Hyman due to injury to start the year, leaving Andreas Johnsson, Trevor Moore, Ilya Mikheyev, Nic Petan and Kenny Agostino as the other left-shot wingers on the roster. Neither has played much on the penalty kill — Aberg does not play PK but has played on the power play in the past, while Wilson played about 30 seconds a night shorthanded for Pittsburgh last season. In this respect, it’s a little surprising Kyle Dubas hasn’t looked to add another proven penalty killer or two in his depth adds with Connor Brown moved to Ottawa and Hyman hurt to start the year, although Nick Shore can likely play a role for the team in shorthanded situations.
While Wilson brings a little more size and jam to the table (6’2, 200), the 25-year-old Aberg is the most interesting name here from a big club perspective as he has plenty of skill and can play both wings (he can play the left as a right shot). He put up 19 points, including 11 goals, in 37 games for Anaheim in 2018-19 after being picked up off of waivers out of camp. The 5’11, 196-pound Swede also tallied eight points in 16 games the year prior in his stint in Edmonton. After a trade to Minnesota in January of 2019, he battled some injury troubles and was also a healthy scratch a fair bit under Bruce Boudreau— including in the playoffs — before the Wild decided not to extend him a qualifying offer as an RFA this summer.
Likely looking at the Tyler Ennis example from last season, Aberg is going to get some looks next to some skilled players in camp to see if he can cement a spot in the lineup for opening night. While he’s been a player that has left a number of teams frustrated and wanting more, he’s flashed signs of real offensive upside while playing on skilled lines, including a stint on Ryan Getzlaf’s wing in Anaheim. Despite going unqualified this summer, Aberg will be a restricted free agent at the end of this contract, so if he proves the Leafs right in their low-risk bet on his upside, he’s an asset the team has RFA control over for 2020-21.