Ottawa Senators

Ottawa Senators: The Maple Leafs Are Coming!

Let’s take a look at what the Ottawa Senators have done so far in free agency. 

Ceci/Zaitsev Swap

The Ottawa Senators and the Toronto Maple Leafs finally completed the Zaitsev trade. I am a little confused at this one. Ottawa paid Toronto to take on a bad contract, shouldn’t it be the other way around? I don’t like Cody Ceci as a player whatsoever and the Sens management finally answered longtime prayers from the fanbase by trading the struggling defenseman.

I believe that if Ceci were used in the right capacity, he could be an effective top 4 defenseman in the NHL. However, he was never used in the right capacity in Ottawa. Ceci is a puck moving defenseman who was used as a shutdown defenseman and he simply does not have the skill set to be a shutdown defenseman. Let’s see what happens with Ceci next, does he re-sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs? Or does he move on?

Ron Hainsey

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Next, the Ottawa Senators signed Ron Hainsey to a one year contract at a 3.5 million cap hit. I like this signing, he can help mold guys like Thomas Chabot and Erik Brannstrom into high caliber defenseman. While Chabot and Brannstrom are remarkable talents, it doesn’t hurt having a guy like Hainsey in the locker room to help them mature.

Hainsey is a decent defenseman, but he brings a lot more to the table than his on ice play. Remember, this guy won the cup his first two times playing in the postseason. He knows what it takes to win, he is a voice in the locker room and he can mentor everyone. As much as I think Ottawa overpaid for him, we need to get to the cap floor, and I think the signing is actually a pretty good one.

Tyler Ennis

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The next move was signing Tyler Ennis. Ennis signed with the Sens at 800k for one year.

I don’t know how to feel about this signing. He has jumped around the league recently and I don’t really get the point in this signing. Tyler Ennis went from Buffalo to Minnesota and then he went to Toronto. Does this show that he isn’t the most coachable player? Or does it mean that new Sens coach, D.J. Smith likes him a lot and just wanted him to come along?

Former Sens coach Guy Boucher had a few players like this, Tom Pyatt and Nate Thompson to name a few. I think Tyler Ennis is the same type of signing that Pyatt and Thompson were a few years back. Let’s see what happens.

Sticking To Rebuilding

Instead of using the massive amount of cap space the team to sign superstars, Pierre Dorion sticked to his rebuilding plan and made a few depth signings. I do not believe that Dorion is done yet tho, he has a few more things up his sleeves. For example, he needs to sign Colin White and he should sign Thomas Chabot as quickly as possible to avoid a situation like in Toronto where it took half the season to sign Nylander.

stats from hockey-reference.com

research from CapFriendly.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

Toronto Maple Leafs

Do The Toronto Maple Leafs Need More Forward Depth?

Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock has called for more forward depth. But, do they really need it?

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Following the Boston Bruins’ Game 7 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Babcock had the following to say about the opposing team’s roster, according to an NHL.com article:

“It’s called depth, right?” Babcock said. “That’s how you beat the other teams. You need good goaltending, real good ‘D’ and you’ve got to be good down the middle. They have that.” (Quote from NHL.com)

It’s not the first time the coach has commented on depth – claiming that other teams in the NHL had done better at handling the adversity and injuries that comes along with a grueling 82 game season. Depth is always a good thing to have, and the more of it the better assuming you can fit everyone under the cap, but is this really a department the leafs need help in? Yes and no.

The chart below illustrates the Points per 60 minutes for all the teams in the Atlantic division. Each dot represents a player, and the large dot represents the team average. The horizontal line represents the league average for Points per 60 minutes.

visual created by Ryan Ghizzoni, stats from EvolvingHockey.com

As you can see, the Toronto Maple Leafs have the second strongest depth in the division in using this metric — only trailing the Tampa Bay Lightning who are notorious for their deep roster. Based on point production – the Toronto Maple Leafs are pretty well rounded, with decent per 60 contribution from 4th line players like Tyler Ennis.

Down the Middle

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Where the Leafs could use more depth is down the middle, which became a focal point in the Bruins series when Nazem Kadri was suspended in Game 2, and the team was forced to move William Nylander off of Auston Matthews’ wing to third line center. Even with Kadri’s absence, finding a replacement for Frederik Gauthier could also help given his point contributions.

So how should they go about this? For more immediate needs, it seems like the Leafs have targeted overseas players as potential options – signing Ilya Mikheyev and Teemu Kivihalme to entry level contracts – but neither play center. Free agency might be a potential option, but Dubas will need to look for a bargain player and not a blockbuster signing to keep the leafs under the cap. An interesting development over the next few years will be how Dubas uses the Entry Draft to keep the Leaf’s prospect cupboard stocked. Taking advantage of the cheap ELCs of young phenoms will be huge given the amount of salary that will be locked up by the core, and given this is Dubas’ first full draft (he had just started before last year’s) – it could be a key one moving forward.

stats from EvolvingHockey.com and hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: What’s Going To Happen This Summer?

As the NHL Playoffs inch closer, it’s not too early for teams to start thinking about what they need to do this summer including the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Right now, the NHL salary cap is listed as $79.5 million (United States Dollar). That leaves Toronto with just over $6 million in cap space (per capfriendly.com). It is expected that the salary cap will be going up. According to Sportsnet.ca, the expected cap limit will be set at $83 million which would give Toronto just over $9.5 million to spend.

Number One Priority

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Now this summer’s number one priority for Toronto is to get Restricted Free Agent (RFA) Mitch Marner signed to a new deal. The problem that Toronto faces is that Marner’s new deal will most likely take up most of the team’s $9.5 million in cap space. In addition, Toronto also has RFA’s Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson, Nic Petan and Igor Ozhiganov to worry about this summer. This means it’s very likely that Toronto will have to trade away some salary in order to make room for as many of their RFA’s as possible.

Dealing Brown and Zaitsev For Cap Space

The leading candidates for being traded will likely be Connor Brown ($2.1 million) and Nikita Zaitsev ($4.5 million). The interesting thing about Nikita Zaitsev’s contract is after July 1st he has a Modified No Trade Clause (NTC), so if Toronto is looking to trade the young defenseman it would be better for them to do so before July 1st. If both of these players do indeed get traded, it is assumed that they’d be traded for lower round draft picks (4th – 7th round) and thus freeing up an additional $6.6 million in cap space.

If we expect that Mitch Marner signs for $9.5 million and both Connor Brown and Nikita Zaitsev being traded for draft picks that leaves Toronto with just the $6.6 million to sign the rest of their RFA’s. It is expected that Kasperi Kapanen will be next on the priority chart.  It is very likely that Toronto will sign Kapanen to a bridge deal of two to three years for roughly $3 million a year.  With only about $3.6 million left, it seems likely that Toronto will be forced to trade Andreas Johnsson and fill the forward positions with cheaper options such as Nic Petan, Jeremy Bracco and Trevor Moore.  Toronto might also try to bring back Tyler Ennis if they can make the money work.

Spending on Defense?

On defense, I don’t see Toronto making any big changes for the 2019/2020 season as there just isn’t enough cap space.  Once the $6.25 million contract for Patrick Marleau expires next summer then I think Toronto will attempt to add another Top 4 defenseman.

Projected Lines

Based on everything that I have mentioned above, I believe that this is what the 2019/2020 Toronto Maple Leafs will look like.

Zach HymanJohn Tavares – Mitch Marner

Kasperi Kapanen – Auston MatthewsWilliam Nylander

Patrick Marleau – Nazem Kadri – Trevor Moore

Nic Petan – Frederik Gauthier – Jeremy Bracco

Tyler Ennis (13th forward)

 

Morgan RiellyJake Muzzin

Travis DermottCalle Rosen

Rasmus Sandin – Justin Holl

Andreas Borgman – Igor Ozhiganov

 

Frederik Andersen

Garret Sparks

 

Thanks for reading!

 

stats from hockey-reference.com and NHL.com

salary cap research – capfriendly.com and Rogers Sportsnet

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler

Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs: Getting Moore Long-Term Value?

The 2018-2019 roster for the Toronto Maple Leafs is is undoubtedly the the best in recent memory. The star power on this team is second to none (maybe one: Tampa Bay Lightning), but this iteration of the Toronto Maple Leafs can’t last forever.

As we’ve seen with recent Stanley Cup Champions, the ideal roster construction is to spend a large chunk of one’s cap on a few star players, and surround them with capable cheap options. You see this with the previous back to back Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, with stars such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel eating a significant portion of the cap, and cheap reliable options such as Jake Guentzel (prior to his extension), Bryan Rust and Brian Dumoulin surrounding them.

Re-Signing Trevor Moore

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Kyle Dubas’ re-signing of Trevor Moore signals to the fan-base that long-term roster construction will head in this direction (likely following the highly anticipated cap crunch set to occur this summer). The actual contract, 2 years, one-way and an AAV of 775,000 USD is the exact type of money we’d expect for a player who made his NHL debut earlier this year.

This is not meant to be a slight against Moore. In fact, despite the limited showcase, Moore captured the hearts of Leafs Nation. He showed off his speed against often lower quality opponents and his ability to generate scoring chances with equally low quality line mates. Over the next two years, expect him to develop into the type of player we’ve seen Andreas Johnsson turn into this season: a dynamic, skilled player who can play up and down the lineup. He is not an exception, and like recent Stanley Cup Champions, will not be the only player of this kind on the roster.

Extending Calle Rosen

This summer, Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey will both be free agents. With Gardiner and Hainsey potentially gone, Dubas will need to make some big changes on his blue-line. Recently, he provided a  one-way extension to Calle Rosen. Rosen’s new deal stands out as another high value, low-cost move. Besides the aforementioned Moore, there is little debate as to who has been far and away the best player for the Toronto Marlies this season. Displaying incredible offensive upside and the ability to manage the puck in his own end, Rosen will almost certainly crack next year’s roster. With a 750,000 USD cap hit over the next two years of his one way deal, Rosen has proven that he deserves a serious shot at cracking the roster next year. With how he’s performed at the AHL level, it seems as though he will get that opportunity.

More Extensions To Come?

With Rosen and Moore receiving extensions from Dubas, you can expect many others to get similar looking contracts and opportunities. The often forgotten NHL player, Justin Holl could see chances on the deconstructed blue-line come training camp. Additionally, Marlies players such as Carl Grundstrom, Andreas Borgman and Jeremy Bracco (among many others) could get long looks at spots that may open up with the departures of one or more of Tyler Ennis, Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen this summer (or at the trade deadline).

Dubas has begun to show the future of this roster and how it will be constructed. The stars of the Leafs’ current roster may soon find themselves surrounded by capable, young, and fast current Marlies in their bid to end Toronto’s Stanley Cup drought.

contract research – CapFriendly.com

featured image photo credit – Josh Tessler