The summer of depth continues, with the Toronto Maple Leafs adding yet another bottom six signing. This time, it’s 29 year old local boy Daniel Winnik, who has signed a one year deal with the team worth $1.3 million.
Winnik is coming off of a career year with the Ducks, where he put up six goals and twenty four assists in 76 games. These are also his best numbers to date when adjusted for ice time, scoring 1.68 points per 60 minutes at even strength. Notably, that’s a higher number than Joffrey Lupul, along with it being higher than any forward the Leafs let walk away this offseason. However, sheltered minutes probably have a lot to do with that, seeing as he was far from Anaheim’s only scoring option and still played just fifteen and a half minutes per night.
While his possession numbers last year were lower than usual (48.0 CF%, -2.8% relative), Winnik typically has been ahead of the curve compared to his teammates, posting positive relative numbers in the three years prior. This is despite being used in shutdown situations; his highest offensive Zone Start percentage in the past four years is 48.3%, which would be high on a team like Toronto, but was -3.7% on last year’s Ducks.
Beyond the “fancy stats”, Winnik is an imposing body at 6’2, 213 pounds. Originally drafted by Phoenix in the 9th round of the 2004 Entry Draft, he clawed his way into the NHL, eventually making his debut with the Coyotes as a 22 year old in 2007/08. In between there and Anaheim, Winnik also spent a year and a half in Colorado before being rented by the San Jose Sharks.
One of the biggest benefits in his style of play is that he’s familiar with multiple positions. Given the current depth, it’s likely that we’ll see him on Left Wing, but he can also fill in at Centre in the event of injury. He’s also a good player to have around for special teams, having previously been heavily relied on by all of his teams to play on the penalty kill. If he plays like he did last year, he wont’ be the one sending you to that kill either – he drew 7 more penalties than he took in 2013/14.
At the price tag, it’s hard not to take a chance on a player like him. The Leafs now effectively have five lines of players who can play hockey and won’t eat up much (if any) salary if sent to the AHL. This should create some interesting competition in training camp, keep the Marlies somewhat competitive, and most importantly, turn the enforcer role in Toronto into a near-extinct species.