The Toronto Maple Leafs have potentially bolstered their stunning depth of good-but-not-great players today, signing winger Curtis Glencross to a professional tryout deal.
Who is he?
Glencross is a 32-year-old from Kindersley, Saskatchewan, who has played a shade over 500 NHL games. An undrafted late bloomer, Glencross made his NHL debut with the Anaheim Ducks in 06/07, but didn’t see regular time until the year after, which he split between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Edmonton Oilers.
From there, he signed a three-year, $3.6 million contract with the Calgary Flames, with whom he’s played the bulk of his NHL career. Glencross was traded to the Washington Capitals at this year’s trade deadline for a 2nd and 3rd round pick.
Why would the Leafs want him?
Glencross was a relatively consistent performer for the Flames over his tenure. Of the 42 players to play at least 1000 minutes for the Flames between 2008/09 and the end of this past season, Glencross had the eighth highest rate of production, picking up 1.79 points per 60 minutes. His goal rate (0.83) ranks him in the top five, behind only Sean Monahan, Jarome Iginla, Mike Cammalleri, and Rene Bourque.
Last year wasn’t a particularly mindblowing one for him, but he did prove that he still has a bit of value. Despite being largely used in defensive minutes (he was 8% less likely to start shifts in the offensive zone than his teammates) with the aforementioned Monahan and David Jones, Glencross picked up 28 points in 53 games, sixteen of which came at even strength. His possession numbers remained ever so slightly ahead of the curve in Calgary, though all of the above took a hit with the Caps as his usage became even more targeted.
If you’re looking for a guy like Glencross, you’re looking for somebody who can contribute a bit of scoring depth and a lot of the “gritty” things – Glencross isn’t scared of throwing the body, going into the corners, or blocking shots. He’s probably past his days of being a top six option, but isn’t the worst person to have on the wing of one of your third or fourth lines.
Will he stick?
The Leafs do have a bit of an issue, however. Even if you assume that no rookies are making the team and that Zach Hyman will play for the Marlies, the Leafs will enter training camp with thirteen forwards on contracts, along with Glencross and Devin Setoguchi on the wings. Unless the team plans on shipping somebody out before puck drop, there might not be enough room for everybody on this team.
If he succeeds and they can’t sign him, that would be a shame, because a guy like Glencross can probably benefit the team in the short term and be flipped for a pick in the long run. But seeing as the Leafs have made this initiative to bring him into camp, you can’t help but think there’s a plan in place if he plays well. I guess we’ll just have to see.