Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Dubas Gets A Right Handed Defenseman

The Toronto Maple Leafs have made an upgrade on the right side of their defensive unit. 

Earlier today, the Toronto Maple Leafs announced via twitter that they had brokered a trade with the Colorado Avalanche. The Maple Leafs have traded Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 third round pick to the Avalanche for Tyson Barrie, Alex Kerfoot and a 2020 sixth round pick.

With the addition of Barrie, the Toronto Maple Leafs have successfully upgraded the right side of their blue-line.

But, there is even more news. Per Dan Rosen of NHL.com (see above), the Colorado Avalanche retained 50% of Barrie’s AAV in the deal. With that being said, Barrie will only eat 2.75 million in cap space for the Maple Leafs.

The Hunt For A Right Handed Defenseman

Toronto Maple Leafs fans have been waiting a while for this day. Over the past two seasons, we’ve heard names such as Brett Pesce, Colin Miller, P.K. Subban, Erik Karlsson, Justin Faulk and others be thrown out as potential options on the right hand side. Finally, the rumours are put to bed. The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired Tyson Barrie from the Colorado Avalanche and now Barrie is their top right handed defensive option. He’ll likely replace Ron Hainsey on the top line and play alongside Morgan Rielly. While Barrie is far better than Hainsey, it’s still worth showing a comparison between the two defensemen.

In the below visual from CJ Turtoro, you’ll see an in-depth comparison of the two defensemen.

visual from CJ Turtoro, data from Corey Sznajder

Barrie is a lot better than Hainsey. There is no doubt about it. As you can see from the visual, Barrie is far more efficient at shot contributions, possession entries and possession exits than Hainsey. The only category that Barrie is worse than Hainsey in is entry defense. But, just because Barrie is worse at entry defense then Hainsey doesn’t mean that the trade for Barrie makes no sense. It’s the opposite. Barrie is more consistent across the board and is far better suited to play top line minutes in the NHL than Hainsey. 

Kerfoot

In addition to Barrie, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Alexander Kerfoot in the trade. Kerfoot provides the Maple Leafs with solid centre depth and will compete with Jason Spezza for the the third line centre spot. 

Kerfoot has a tremendous amount of upside and has been rather efficient in his time with the Avalanche. But, the challenge for Kerfoot has been his line-mates. Aside from the top line in Colorado, forward depth has been a concern, especially on the wings. Kerfoot didn’t have consistently strong wingers in Colorado and that will change in Toronto. He could end up playing with Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, Ilya Mikheyev and/or Trevor Moore. 

The only immediate issue with Kerfoot is that he’s a restricted free agent. He’ll need to be paid quite quickly and if he demands too much, the Maple Leafs could be forced to trade his rights as they still need to lock up Mitch Marner.

Losing Kadri & Rosen

Unfortunately, Maple Leafs fans are losing a fan favourite. Nazem Kadri has been with the organization for a long time. If you remember, former general manager Brian Burke and former Ottawa Senators Bryan Murray had a minor confrontation at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft prior to Burke selecting Kadri. Burke went up to Murray, asked him who he planned on taking and then he informed Murray that he was going to be taking Kadri off the board. It was evident from the exchange that Murray had his eyes on Kadri and had to go to plan B.

Sadly, Leafs Twitter has been up in arms about Kadri’s role in Toronto. Since the two altercations against the Boston Bruins this past playoff series and in the year prior, Kadri has been put on the hot seat in Toronto. His character in the playoffs has been alarming and it’s clear that Dubas wasn’t prepared to give him another chance.

In addition to Kadri being dealt, the Maple Leafs also part ways with depth defenseman Calle Rosen. Rosen, since coming to Toronto has spent the bulk of his time with the Toronto Marlies, but was looking prime to play on the third defensive pairing next season. Instead, he’ll fight for a third pairing spot in Colorado.

Recap

All-in-all, the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally improved their right side on the blue-line. Barrie is quite the upgrade over Hainsey. Plus, they add a centre with a ton of offensive upside in Kerfoot. With that being said, it’s extremely hard to hate this trade.

stats from hockey-reference.com and Corey Sznajder

visual from CJ Turtoro

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

Artemi Panarin

The New York Rangers Ink Panarin, They Are A Contender Again

featured image photo credit – Dinur Blum

Per Elliotte Friedman of Rogers Sportsnet, the New York Rangers have signed Artemi Panarin to a seven year deal worth 81.5 million. 

The New York Rangers made a splash on Day 1 of Free Agency and are now no longer in a rebuild mode. Over the course of the last few weeks, the Rangers had drafted Kaapo Kakko, acquired Adam Fox in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes, traded with the Winnipeg Jets for Jacob Trouba, dealt Jimmy Vesey to the Buffalo Sabres to add cap space and have now signed the top unrestricted free agent, Artemi Panarin. The Rangers are determined to chase for the Stanley Cup and their front office has done a great job in assembling a contender.

Panarin is coming off of a great campaign with the Columbus Blue Jackets. The 27 year old Korkino, Russia native mustered up 28 goals and 59 assists in 79 games with the Blue Jackets last season. In addition, he posted a 54.8 corsi-for percentage and a 54.8 fenwick-for percentage. Plus, his expected goals for was considerably higher than his expected goals against. 

The Russian forward was also incredible during the Blue Jackets playoff run. He appeared in 10 games for the Blue Jackets and managed to tally 5 goals and 6 assists. Without Panarin, the Blue Jackets might not have swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in round one. 

With Panarin coming to the Rangers, he’ll more than likely play on the top line with Mika Zibanejad and fellow countryman, Pavel Buchnevich. Panarin will likely force new teammate, Chris Kreider to move to the second forward line to play alongside Ryan Strome and Kaapo Kakko. 

In terms of Panarin’s playing style, let’s take a look at Sean Tierney’s playing style visual. Panarin is play-maker and does whatever he can to create scoring chances. He’s primary assist machine, Panarin is highly effective in high danger situations, he can be trusted to get the puck safely into the offensive zone from the neutral zone on the regular and he’s proven to be one of the best shot contributors on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

visual from Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder

With Panarin’s skill-set, he’ll make Zibanejad and Buchnevich more effective. Zibanejad is coming off of a solid season, in which he posted 74 points, but Buchnevich needs a strong bounce back season. Last season, Buchnevich played in 64 games, while posting 21 goals and 17 assists. His offensive production hasn’t been great since his debut in the 2016-17 regular season, but last season wasn’t as productive as his 2017-18 campaign. With Panarin firing lasers cross-ice to Buchnevich, perhaps he can help Buchnevich post a career high in goals next season. 

In addition, adding Panarin will likely boost the Rangers’ power-play. The Rangers power-play had a success rate of 19.4 percent (17th in the NHL). New York really needed to add a threat to their power-play rotation if they planned on making the jump from rebuilder to contender and they did just that.

All-in-all, Panarin makes the Rangers a lot stronger and will be in New York for the long haul.

stats from hockey-reference.com and Corey Sznajder

Follow Josh Tessler, the author of this post on Twitter (@JoshTessler_)

Matt Duchene

Reaction Roundup: Matt Duchene Looks Like He’s Going To Nashville

featured image photo credit – Dinur Blum

Earlier this evening, Chris Johnston of Rogers Sportsnet tweeted out that the Nashville Predators are looking like the winners of the Matt Duchene sweepstakes. But, nothing will be confirmed till tomorrow.

Duchene is coming off a season, in which he split his time between the Ottawa Senators and the Columbus Blue Jackets. He began the season with the Senators, but was dealt to the Blue Jackets prior to the trade deadline as the Blue Jackets were looking to stockpile talent before the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Duchene ended up finishing the season with 31 goals and 39 assists in 73 games played. In addition, he managed to muster up 5 goals and 5 assists in 10 playoff games with the Blue Jackets.

While Columbus had a lot of success in the playoffs, they have quite a few of unrestricted free agents including Ryan Dzingel, Sergei Bobrovsky, Duchene and Artemi Panarin. With several free agents potentially leaving Columbus, Duchene might have wanted a bit more security in terms of long-term success and so he chose to go to a club (Nashville Predators) who has historically done well. But, the Predators still don’t have a Stanley Cup championship. With Duchene signing long-term in Nashville, the Predators forward group is ready to pounce on the competition and the Predators look like a contender.

Reaction Roundup

Let’s take a look at what analysts and fans had to say about Duchene heading down to Nashville.

Pierre LeBrun of TSN talks about what the contract might look like for Duchene. While it’s not confirmed quite yet, the projected AAV would be 8 million USD. 

My twitter buddy, @AbsCoverage isn’t too thrilled that the Montréal Canadiens couldn’t reel in Duchene. But, he might sleep easier, since he knows that Duchene going to Nashville is nearly a completed deal.

Friend of Puck77, Nathan Graviteh talks about the Matt Duchene rumoured signing in a new video. 

Looks like the folks at On The Forecheck, the Nashville Predators SB Nation blog site seem up beat about Duchene coming to Nashville (if it’s completed).

Cam Robinson of DobberProspects compares the Matt Duchene signing to the Philadelphia Flyers signing Kevin Hayes

Oh, Travis. Travis Yost laying on the jokes. 

Arpon Basu of The Athletic was almost ready to prep his post on Duchene signing with the Canadiens. Unfortunately for Habs fans, that doesn’t look like it’s happening.

In-Depth Analysis

For in-depth analysis of the Duchene signing, stay tuned. The Puck77 team will have an in-depth analysis of the signing, but we are waiting for the deal to be confirmed.

stats from hockey-reference.com

Follow Josh Tessler, the author of this post on Twitter (@JoshTessler_)

Andrew Shaw

Montréal Canadiens: Getting Value For Shaw

featured image photo credit – mark6mauno/Wikimedia Commons – cropped slightly

The Montréal Canadiens struck a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks earlier today. The Canadiens dealt Andrew Shaw and a 2021 7th round draft pick to the Blackhawks for a 2020 2nd round draft pick, a 2020 7th round draft pick and a 2021 3rd round draft pick.

In the tweet below, you’ll see the Montréal Canadiens twitter show the trade in a lovely graphic. Looks better than my opening paragraph, eh?

Jokes aside. This trade is a great one for the Canadiens. Andrew Shaw was eating up 3.9 million in cap space. Plus, he was coming off of a strong season, in which he managed to tally 19 goals and 28 assists (47 points) in 63 games. His point total was a career high. Shaw had never managed to muster 40 points in a seas on prior to last year.

Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin sold at the right time. He didn’t sit back and see if Shaw could have another stellar season in 2019-20. Instead, he pulled the trigger and agreed to a trade with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman.

Personally, if you had asked me who won this trade, I’d give the edge to the Canadiens. If Shaw put up another mediocre campaign, Bergevin would never have received this kind of return. Instead, Bergevin stockpiles draft picks for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and now has 12 draft selections. Twelve. Yep, you read that correctly. He’s got twelve picks for next year’s draft. It’s going to be one of the best draft classes in NHL history and now Bergevin has the chance to snag many assets for the Canadiens. In addition, he could use some of his fourth round draft picks (he’s got four of them for the 2020 Draft) and move up.

Also, the Canadiens add 3.9 million in cap space and now have 13.55 million in space. The Canadiens have a plethora of space and can now target some much needed depth forwards. There are quite a few forwards on the market, who could be great fits for the Canadiens. Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, Derick Brassard, Patrick Marleau, Mats Zuccarello, Wayne Simmonds and Anders Lee are available.

For the Blackhawks, I simply don’t understand why Bowman agreed to this trade. I understand that the Blackhawks have quite a bit of familiarity with Shaw. Shaw had played in Chicago for five seasons before packing up and moving to Montréal. But, if Bowman truly was familiar with Shaw, he’d understand that Shaw isn’t a top six forward. He had a solid campaign in Montréal, but the production isn’t consistent with his production in previous seasons. Also, Bowman is giving up a second round pick, when he could easily get a top six forward for the future in next year’s draft. Honestly, it doesn’t make sense and it’s an awful move for Chicago.

stats from hockey-reference.com

Follow Josh Tessler, the author of this post on Twitter (@JoshTessler_)

Rasmus Ristolainen

Buffalo Sabres: Colin Miller In, Rasmus Ristolainen Out?

featured image photo credit – Lisa Gansky/Wikimedia Commons

Yesterday, the Buffalo Sabres acquired Colin Miller in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights. 

Bob McKenzie of TSN broke the news yesterday afternoon. McKenzie explained that Sabres general manager Jason Botterill struck a deal with Vegas general manager Kelly McCrimmon to send two draft picks to Vegas for Miller. In particular, the Sabres dealt a 2nd round pick (2021 draft) and a 5th round pick (2022 draft). The 2nd round pick was originally the pick of the St. Louis Blues and was acquired by Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly trade.

With the addition of Miller, the Sabres have bolstered their blue-line and now have a plethora of talent on their blue-line. They have Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Brandon Montour, Marco Scandella, Miller and they still have many assets in their farm system. The Sabres have quickly become a strong defensive club.

Per DailyFaceoff.com, Miller is on the third defensive pairing alongside Scandella. But, I don’t believe that Jason Botterill decided to trade for Miller to put him on his third pairing. Instead, I believe that one of Sabres’ defensemen on the right side will become expendable. 

Who Could Be On The Trading Block?

If Botterill does decide to trade a right handed defenseman, it’s likely that Ristolainen is the defenseman that gets moved.

Throughout his time in Buffalo, Ristolainen has received a lot of criticism. While he’s been effective in the offensive zone and has shown to lay down hits, he’s rather inadequate in the defensive and neutral zones. He’s not dependable and he can’t be trusted to do the dirty work to get the puck from zone-to-zone. Instead, he’s more of a typical offensive defenseman. Ristolainen is essentially a one-trick pony, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Each team needs a point and shoot guy, who can deliver consistently on special teams. 

But, I believe that his time in Buffalo is running out. In the visual below from Sean Tierney, you’ll see how inadequate the Finnish defenseman is at break-ups and possession exits. 

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder

Ristolainen Is An Offensive Threat

Ristolainen’s value is also really high as many teams could utilize his shot from the point. There are quite a few clubs across the league, who have had power-play issues last season and would love to have a defenseman like Ristolainen firing shot after shot. Plus, if you look at the chart below from Tierney, you’ll see how effective Ristolainen was in the offensive zone last season. He was one of the biggest primary shot contributors on the Sabres blue-line and had the most shots/60 out of all of them.

visual created by Sean Tierney, data from Corey Sznajder and EvolvingWild

With that being said, there are many clubs across the NHL that could use his services and the Sabres could add some much needed forward depth in return. For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Vancouver Canucks and the New York Islanders desperately need someone like Ristolainen. Perhaps, Botterill will call one of these clubs and work out a deal that benefits both sides.

stats from hockey-reference.com, Corey Sznajder, EvolvingWild

visuals from Sean Tierney

Follow Josh Tessler, the author of this post on Twitter (@JoshTessler_)