The Caped Cearnsader
It’s already been a busy offseason for Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas, and as a Leafs fan, I feel more optimistic about the team’s chances of success in the 2019-2020 NHL season.
Yes, I know Mitch Marner remains unsigned as an RFA, and that remains to be a stressful subject for fans of this team, but other than that I think the Leafs GM has done a good job filling the holes on the team’s roster for the most part in a skilled manner.
Since July 1st, several new names have been added to the Leafs’ roster. For starters, let me talk about the Jason Spezza signing. I think the veteran centre will serve as a great fourth-line centre for this team. At 36 years of age, Spezza is not the superstar he once was when he was drafted by the Ottawa Senators, but he does the things well that you need from a fourth-line centre. The last few regular seasons he’s played, Spezza has consistently won over 50 per cent of the faceoff draws he’s taken. Last season, Spezza won 58.2 per cent of the faceoffs. To put this in perspective, last season John Tavares won 54.5 per cent of the faceoffs he took and Auston Matthews won 52.1 per cent. Spezza is also good on the power play, as he produced 12 power-play points, which was about 45 per cent of his points. As a veteran player in the locker room, Spezza also fills the void of being the player there to mentor the younger Leafs that was created when Patrick Marleau was traded.
Now, let me talk about a controversial addition to the team in right-handed defenceman Cody Ceci. For those who don’t know, Ceci was acquired by the Leafs in the trade that sent Nikita Zaitsev, and his five-year contract, to Ottawa. The controversy lies in the fact that some fans feel Ceci is actually a worse defenceman than Zaitsev. However, I’m going to give Ceci a chance. For one, as some have pointed out, Ceci has been on an Ottawa team that has finished near the bottom of the NHL standings the last couple seasons. I’d also be interested in seeing how he performs when he’s had a chance to work on his skating with Leaf skating coach Barb Underhill. At 6’2”, Ceci also brings size to the Leafs blueline, and as Leaf fans have learned recently, right-handed defencemen are coveted by all NHL teams.
Now, speaking of right-handed defencemen, the Leafs GM was able to make another big splash at the position. Tyson Barrie was acquired from the Colorado Avalanche in a deal that sent Nazem Kadri to Colorado. Barrie brings another offensive weapon to Toronto’s blueline. Barrie has scored 14 goals in each of his last couple seasons in the NHL. In those seasons, Barrie finished with 57 and 59 points. Barrie has been in the top 10 in NHL defencemen scoring in both seasons. Adding him to a team that already has scorers like Morgan Rielly, John Tavares and Auston Matthews, and hopefully, the previously mentioned Mitch Marner, makes the team a lot more dangerous offensively.
I think Dubas has done a wonderful job retooling the roster, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these players fit into the team’s lineup in the fall.
Photo taken from Maple Leafs Hot Stove.