Leafs Sign Paul Ranger


As per Darren Dreger and Damien Cox, the Toronto Maple Leafs have agreed to terms with Paul Ranger on a 1 year deal worth around 1 million dollars. A bit of an unexpected move considering the cap crunch, but a very shrewd one nonetheless. Read on: 

What’s he been up to?

To start, Ranger isn’t unfamiliar to the Leafs organization. After disappearing from professional hockey early in the 2009/10 season, the 28 year old defenceman decided to make his return by signing a 1-Year, AHL only deal with the Toronto Marlies last August. Many thought he could get a team to risk a two way contract, but assuming an NHL return was his end goal, signing with the Marlies allowed him to be close to home (Whitby, ON) while being able to make his own destiny, essentially meaning the Leafs couldn’t trade him.

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While the main story of training camp was Nazem Kadri being in slightly worse shape than his teammates, Ranger showed up atop almost every chart, knowing that being in supreme physical shape was a necessity after spending so much time away from the game at a high level. With this known, it was a little less surprisng when he instantly became the team’s top all-around defender. While he didn’t keep up with Mike Kostka offensively (who, believe it or not, put up 34 points in 34 games), Ranger produced at a half point per game clip while being the hardest player to get past on the team. This is before the lockout ended too, meaning he was outplaying the likes of Kostka, Jake Gardiner, Korbinian Holzer, and Mark Fraser. While I’m not a fan of the stat, his +16 rating lead the team.

Ranger shows a lot of versatility in his play. His stickwork is solid, he’s not afraid to throw his body around, and he’s frequently in good position. While Randy Carlyle has his philosphies and will likely stick Ranger on the left side due to his shot handedness, he’s capable of playing on both sides. In fact, his time with Kostka involved him being on the right, and was left there on the powerplay due to his hard, accurate point shot.

I have lots of reason to believe that this is the same Paul Ranger that people saw as an emerging young defencemen with Tampa Bay years ago. I fully believe that Ranger will be in the Leafs’ top four very quickly, and be looking for a massive raise next season, with good reason.

It is worth noting, though, that Ranger missed significant time as the result of a concussion suffered on January 13th, missing 15 of his 25 non-played games as a result of it. (The other ten were from minor bumps and bruises, and typical Dallas Eakins roster rotation)

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Why the departure/return?

This is a frequently asked question. The answer? We don’t really know. Speculation ranges all over the place, lots of it involving personal issues and is borderline libellious. With that said, the most sensible explanation and current front runner? He simply lost interest in the professional lifestyle, and wanted to go home. This further supports the contract he signed last year, as it allowed him to play hockey at a higher level while near home while seeing if his heart was still in it.

The reality is though, it doesn’t really matter at this point. If there’s anything particularly concerning, it will probably come up.

Cap Concerns

As much as I am a fan of this signing, it really makes you wonder about what’s coming next. After all, the Leafs now have less than six million dollars to sign Nazem Kadri, Cody Franson, and Mark Fraser. Even if a couple of players in that list end up in the AHL, I can’t see the Leafs being able to go into next season this close to the cap. Another move, bluntly, is inevitable.

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In Summation

There’s very little breathing room for the Leafs as a result of this signing, but it’s a very smart one to make. Teams often make their shrewedest, most efficient moves with their backs against the wall; it’s not even a first in recent Leafs history. Ranger is fully capable of being a player worth triple, if not more, of what he’s going to get paid, and Toronto’s commitment to helping him get back to the NHL will pay off quite nicely.

Photo courtesy of @erinmapleleaf


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  • Nonis has to get his priorities straight.

    First he signs the facepunchers instead of signing up RFAs. Then he trades for a more expensive and worse goalie. He then buys out Grabbo and gives the bulk of that money to AHL level center like Bozak. And now he signs ranger, let’s Kostka walk and adds to the 100s of NHL dmen we signed while leaving Fraser, Franson and especially Kadri unsigned.

    I don’t like this move because Nonis show no sense and sensibility in knowing how to manage a team.
    His first priority should be to extend Kessel and Phaneuf. This is all window dressing but he fails to realize that their is no window at all.

    • nonikhanna

      1) Well, ya. If I’m not mistaken though they were UFA’s, and they are a little more high priority to get locked up if you want to keep them.
      2)A Reimer – Bernier tandem looks sick in the NHL, I don’t see how Bernier is worse than Scrivens, who was a career NHL backup at best.
      3) Grabbo was good, he was not good enough to warrant a 5.5 mil contract. Too much for him. Like it or not, he didn’t fit with the leafs. They pretty much had to get rid of him. Carlyle has a lot more trust in Bozak. 4.2 mil is a decent amount of money for a #2 center as well if they end up acquiring a #1.
      4)Kostka was overplayed, and I don’t think he would make the Leafs next year given the chance anyways. Fraser I’m betting is going to ask for a hefty chunk of money, so maybe Ranger is insurance if we want to get rid of either him or another D on our roster.

  • If I’m not mistaken, you are able to bury contracts in the AHL that are under $900 000.
    Meaning you can save about 1.9 mil from what CapGeek has right now by sending down Holzer, Brennan and Smith to the AHL. Every penny counts from now on.

    I wouldn’t be surprised as well if this was some sort of negotiating tactic to get Fraser to go for a lower number. Or at the very least be able to take a spot on the Leafs if Fraser asks for too much. Definitely interesting. We’ll see what the leafs do.

  • nonikhanna

    @Brandon I think that is what Nonis is gonna do. Either that or trade Liles/Phaneuf. I would not want to see phaneuf traded. Liles… if we can clear the cap room then sure trade him.

    With this move our backs are up against the wall.

    BUT I really think the leafs are STACKED at this point. We probably have one of the strong teams in the east at this point. our top 9 looks good. we have a great shutdown line. our defense is more or less solid. phaneuf, gunnarson, gardiner, franson, ranger, fraser, liles, and we got other young defensemen coming up. Our goalie situation looks set. This team is almost complete other than a top 2 defender and a top line center. We could still challenge for the cup with our current team though.

    Only thing im worried about is injuries. how to manouever around the cap when there are injuries.

    • nonikhanna

      Yep, the D does look fairly good. I would Pencil in Liles and Fraser, possibly Franson too since their fate is still in limbo.

      As far as injuries go, if the injured player is placed on IR their salary does not count towards the cap in the duration he is injured allowing them to bring up an AHL player in their place. We should be alright when it comes to injuries. We could definitely be in a better position cap wise though.

    • BUT I really think the leafs are STACKED at this point. We probably have one of the strong teams in the east at this point. our top 9 looks good. we have a great shutdown line. our defense is more or less solid. phaneuf, gunnarson, gardiner, franson, ranger, fraser, liles, and we got other young defensemen coming up. Our goalie situation looks set. This team is almost complete other than a top 2 defender and a top line center. We could still challenge for the cup with our current team though.

      I can’t stop laughing. One of the funniest things I have ever seen.

  • nonikhanna

    I was at the game where Ranger got concussed in ST John’s. Before it happened he was absolutley dominating. Looked like a man among boys.
    Much more versatile than Fraser.

  • nonikhanna

    Franson was solid in the playoffs and regular season. But Ranger has the potential to be a good top 4 defenseman. I don’t mind this signing as it is cheap and even if we lose franson, our defense should still be fine.

  • nonikhanna


    How many other teams have such a strong lineup? Probably only Chicago, la, Pitts, Boston. And the best part of our lineup is that it fits Carlyle system. All we needed is a good enough top9 with toughness. We really have that now. We caused havoc on the bruins and had them on the ropes. I dunno but Clarkson and boland kind of seem like an upgrade over Grabo and MacArthur. If you factor out the cap hit.

    Btw I don’t watch Leafs TV.

  • Jeremy Ian

    It is an interesting move for management’s longer term bargaining position vis the player agents. But I think it means Liles’ days are numbered as a Leaf.

    All teams have to manage the cap; this is the kind of problem we have been yearning for the Leafs to have — spend on payroll while having solid prospects coming up. Not sure we are cup contenders; not yet convinced that Carlyle’s “system” works with the bench, but the team is in very good shape for a long time.

  • Badger M

    It’s too early to say anything about the quality of the Leafs’ defense. Still way too many question marks. I do have high hopes for Gardiner though. I liked what I saw in the playoffs.

  • jasken

    Good signing by the Leafs, was wondering if Ranger was going to fully commit to getting back to his NHL form or not. He is a top 4 d-man regardless and a player Leafs can use. People who criticize this move by Leafs really are not fans of Leafs just trolls.

    How can anyone not like that D core Phaneuf, Gunnar, Gardiner, Franson, Ranger, Fraser, possibly Reilly, Brennan as they have limited or no NHL experience hard to see how they will fare but rest are solid and giving Brennan and Rielly some NHL experience without risk.

    On paper this is the best team the Leafs would have dressed since 2001-2002. Now that’s on paper on the ice and how they perform under Carlyle maybe a totally different story.

  • jasken

    Looking at Ranger’s stats but Kostka has a good Corsi and is cheaper then Ranger. This team is pissing money away on risky players like Bernier, a broken Bolland and now Ranger. I hope there is money left for the other leafs.

    Scrivens, Grabbo and Kostka is by far a superior team players to these scrubs.

  • jasken

    Franson and Kadri are going to get signed for sure. I’m calling for a either a Kulemin trade or a Liles plus 2nd round pick trade to free up cap space. Probably going to get a winger for the third line out of it. Fraser is out. Easily replaceable and gives opportunity to Rielly to come up the ranks and prove his worth. Leafs are in alright shape. I want to see them play asap.