It’s very evident that Toronto Maple Leafs normal supervisor Kyle Dubas made a serious influence on the NHL commerce deadline. He was in a position to address the team’s depth by bringing in a top-six ahead, a shutdown centre, a dependable goaltender and a gradual defenseman.
It’s nice to have this type of depth, particularly when the final supervisor thinks that is the proper time for the group to go all-in and win a championship. With the additions of Nick Foligno and Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets, roster choices are going to should be made on the ahead place.
When the playoffs begin, head coach Sheldon Keefe goes to should ice the absolute best lineup with the intention to have a profitable playoff run. Which means that some gamers might have to sit down because the newly acquired may see extra ice time than some presently on the roster. Listed here are the Maple Leafs whose roster spot is on the road after commerce deadline.
When the Maple Leafs signed Thornton to a one-year, $700,000 contract, many have been excited on the prospect of bringing somebody of his caliber in to assist be a vocal presence on a younger group. As he bought older on the San Jose Sharks, he nonetheless appeared to play comparatively properly with the Maple Leafs two youngest stars.
He has since been demoted seeing time on the third and fourth strains. Thornton’s manufacturing has taken a success within the course of after a powerful begin. He presently has 12 factors in 32 video games, a 0.38 level per recreation charge. Whereas we all know that his manufacturing wouldn’t be the place it was beforehand, the Maple Leafs most likely anticipated greater than two assists over his final 21 video games performed. Thornton noticed time with Jason Spezza and Alexander Kerfoot, but they proceed to make an influence as they’ve 22 and 18 factors respectively.
Thornton was just lately positioned again within the top-six towards the Calgary Flames and he didn’t look good in that function. Whereas the group’s energy play has gone chilly, he has been ineffective all season regardless of enjoying with two elite degree gamers. His age is beginning to present because the 41-year-old’s incapability to maintain up in a quick paced recreation is obvious as he’s at all times a step behind on the frenzy or within the offensive zone, it doesn’t matter what line he’s on.
As soon as Foligno arrives, he may very properly be in a second or third line function, pushing somebody like Thornton off the roster. It’ll be troublesome for him to maintain his spot over somebody like Ilya Mikheyev who has velocity to burn and is an asset on the penalty kill. Toronto Solar’s Michael Traikos mentions that Maple Leafs have higher choices and that Thornton isn’t “ok to warrant a roster spot on this improved lineup.” (from ‘TRAIK-EOTOMY: Does Joe Thornton nonetheless have a spot within the Maple Leafs’ lineup?’, Toronto Solar – 14/04/21)
Everybody loves Thornton. Who doesn’t? He provides this group a persona and vitality that wasn’t current earlier than. Although, they’re going to wish to get extra out of him. If he can’t discover the extent of play he had early on, he could be sitting out come playoff time.
Another signing that Maple Leafs followers wished and bought. Wayne Simmonds was introduced in to offer grit and toughness wanted for when issues bought tough and we now have seen that each recreation.
Like Thornton, issues have been going properly for Simmonds originally of the season. He recorded 5 objectives, three of which got here on the facility play. He was bodily and even bought within the occasional battle once in a while. It was all going properly till he sustained a broken wrist that sidelined him for six weeks.
Since coming back from damage, he has one objective and two assists in 14 video games. Whereas the manufacturing is low, he has constantly been enjoying in a fourth line function and has good possession numbers for the season. He has a 52.21 Corsi For share and has a excessive hazard objectives for share of 75% when he’s on the ice. However there are some inconsistencies which have stood out in his recreation just lately.
There are occasions the place he makes nice performs and will get in on the forecheck. Then there are ones the place he has the puck and it quantities to nothing. Even when pursuing the puck, he doesn’t have the velocity that was noticeable early on within the season. When the puck is on his stick, it looks like he’s attempting to do a bit an excessive amount of and takes an additional second or two to decide after which the play is lifeless. Plus his presence on the facility play, like Thornton, continues to be an issue.
Simmonds could also be protected for now, because the logjam seems to be taking place on the left aspect, placing Thornton’s job in jeopardy. As well as, when William Nylander comes off the COVID-19 record, it may create some motion on the appropriate aspect. The truth that Mikheyev may be shifted to the appropriate aspect brings in the concept that he can transfer down right into a fourth line on both aspect. The potential for taking Simmonds out of the lineup isn’t fully out of the query.
Engvall earned a contract extension in 2020, signing it in February after having a very good rookie season with 15 factors in 48 video games. We knew that he was going to be seeing minutes as a bottom-six ahead, nevertheless it looks like he’s taken a step again this season as he has eight factors in 35 video games and been inconsistent in his total play. This appeared to be the case from the start of camp as Keefe wasn’t comfortable along with his play during an inter-squad game.
Whereas his velocity is nice, the drive and energy appears to be missing in comparison with final season, the place he used his dimension to his benefit to win puck battles. Whereas we’re seeing him going into the corners, he’s not utilizing his massive body to intimidate the opposition. His positioning in his personal finish and defensive play has additionally been a priority.
He’s an asset on the penalty kill as he’s confirmed to be efficient in that function. Nevertheless with the addition of Nash, as soon as he comes off the injured reserve record, the possibility of Engvall dropping the fourth line centre place simply bought larger. There’s little question that Nash serves as a greater choice over Engvall up the center. Each gamers have comparable offensive manufacturing, however Nash would function a participant who wouldn’t be afraid to make use of his physique to make a success and interact in battles within the offensive zone.
Engvall may most likely be moved to the wing and gained’t be relied on closely up the center as his struggles have proven. Although he’s nonetheless in the identical state of affairs as Thornton and Simmonds, as all three strains appear to be set in stone going ahead. Although, if there was one ahead to nonetheless be within the lineup Engvall would offer extra worth over the opposite two gamers.
With the depth that the Maple Leafs have, troublesome choices are going to should be made when the newly acquired Maple Leafs return to the ice. They give the impression of being to have a strong top-nine, Thornton, Simmonds or Engvall are going to see their ice time lower. They could possibly be rotated periodically, however the Maple Leafs are at a degree the place they could be higher off with out these three gamers.
Hockey has been a giant a part of my life since watching my first Leafs recreation to presently teaching minor hockey. I beforehand interned at The Hockey Information and labored on Toronto Marlies broadcasts for Rogers TV. Other than hockey, I additionally get pleasure from drumming, animation and impressions/ voices.