With the additions of Matt Hunwick and Martin Marincin, Toronto’s top 6 on the back end seemed to be set in stone for most people. They seemed to round out a d core that already included Phaneuf, Rielly, Gardiner, and Polak.
Only one problem: there’s no leadership in that lineup. Coincidentally, there’s no Stephane Robidas in that lineup. Hmm. Curious.
Writing Robidas’s entire origin story would take an eternity. The 38 year old journeyman has had a long and effective career, especially in Dallas, which is where he spent most of his career. This is worth noting, since he was born in Quebec, drafted by the Habs, and even played for them a bit. But they didn’t keep him around.
Dallas sure kept him around. He played 10 seasons there, and in his 11th, he played 48 games before being moved to the Ducks. In his limited run in Anaheim, Robidas broke his leg for the second time in a year. Naturally, Toronto saw this as a positive and signed him to a 3 year deal worth $3 million per.
This is the second year of that deal.
It’s weird to watch Robidas play now and see the numbers he was able to put up in Dallas. That 2009-10 season is really impressive, as were his 2007-08 playoffs in which he put up 11 points in 18 games.
Since then, his offensive production really has fallen off. But let’s be honest – that’s not why the Leafs targeted him as a free agent.
At least I hope not. His HERO chart really shows that he is a bottom pairing guy. Which is fine – if he can put forth solid bottom pairing minutes while being a veteran voice in the room, that makes Robidas somewhat valuable to the Leafs. I can imagine that’s someone Babcock will value.
Another thing Babcock might value is that Robidas is still able to be a low-event player on the defensive side. He’s not a star, but it’s nice to see someone thought of as a “defensive defenseman” actually be competent at it.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN 2015-16
Robidas is going to have to battle for a spot night-in and night-out. It’s very likely that the Leafs will carry 7 D, with Robidas, Hunwick, and Marincin rotating in and out (although I’d personally like Marincin to be a full-timer). Polak might even fit into that group, it’s hard to say.
Past that, expect a lot of quotes about Robidas’s leadership and how he is great in the room. Don’t expect Robidas to get moved – his age, contract, and production is a really tough combination to sell to another team.
- 1997 QMJHL Defenseman of the year
- 2009 NHL All Star