It’s day three of our review of the 2015-2016 Toronto Maple Leafs roster and today we will be evaluating Brad Boyes, Colin Greening and Jonathan Bernier. As you know by now, we are rating each player’s performance on our patented (and incredibly scientific) Smiling Kyle Ranking System.
When Brad Boyes was brought into training camp on a PTO last September, many figured he was here to be training camp filler with an outside chance of cracking the lineup. After a decent camp and the Michael Grabner trade that saw a few contracts open up in the organization, Boyes was signed and the assumption was that he would get some decent ice time, build a little value and be shipped off to a contender at the trade deadline for something like a fifth round pick.
Things didn’t go as planned, despite some decent ice time and PP minutes in the first part of the season, Boyes wasn’t able to contribute much of anything to the team. With only 14 points through January, Boyes looked like there was nothing left in the tank and the idea of flipping him for a return all but vanished.
What started as a feel-good story of a hometown boy playing for the team he cheered for as a child, quickly turned into a less than celebrated swan song for a veteran on his last legs.
In all likelihood, Brad Boyes will retire from the NHL this season. In March, he was in and out of the lineup due to injury and the simple fact that the rookies playing every night took priority. Turning 34 next week, Boyes is not THAT old but watching him on the ice it seemed like retirement is a strong possibility. He could hold on and try to get a PTO with a bad NHL team next year, or even head over to Europe if he’s the kind of guy that just wants to keep playing hockey. One thing is for sure, there is no way he’ll be back on the Leafs roster next season.
Boyes brought little to the team this seasons beyond the feel good story from the beginning of the year, that said I was forced to bump his grade up a whole point thanks to the fact he once played for a beer league team called the Skidmarks.
Colin Greening, the best thing to come out of Newfoundland since Ryan Fancey. Believed to be nothing more than a throw-in to even out the money moving back and forth in the Phaneuf trade, Greening surprised many with his play in the final six weeks of the season. After spending most of the season in Binghamton, Greening looked like a guy that wasn’t long for the NHL. He couldn’t find a spot in a bad Senators lineup and with a $2.65m cap hit, it looked like the AHL was where he would stay for the length of his contract.
Whether it was a move to aid the tank or not, Greening was called up after the deadline and quickly found a fan in Mike Babcock. The Leaf’s head coach put Greening right into the lineup and he wasn’t disappointed. It’s not as though he was overly special but Greening was a pleasant surprise to many who thought he needed more than just a change of scenery. Greening ended the season with 15 points in his 30 games as a Maple Leaf and you could tell that he was playing like a man who knew his career was on the line.
In the last month of the season, Greening went from a guy who was destined for the Marlies next season to someone who has a legitimate chance to play in the bottom-6 with the Leafs next season depending on how the offseason goes. In the right circumstance, Greening would be a quality 4th line winger for a team that will be looking to be a lot more competitive next year. He’d be overpaid but with all the cheap rookies that look to be in the lineup, that won’t be a problem.
For what he is, Greening brings value to this team. A winger that can play a bottom-6 role and chip in some offense when necessary. He seemed to fit in well with Babcock’s system and greatly exceeded expectations.
I’m going to preface this by saying that no Jonathan Bernier did not have a good season, and no he should not be looked at as a long-term option for the team between the pipes, but in terms of evaluating his performance this season, didn’t Jonathan Bernier do exactly what was best for the Toronto Maple Leafs?
Early in the season, when the games mattered and we weren’t quite sure just how bad this team could be, Bernier made sure to give them historically bad goaltending that set everyone on the path straight towards 30th overall. Putting up a .889 sv% through the first three months of the season, Bernier made sure that the team would lose despite some solid play in front of him. He was the reason for a number of losses and kept the Leafs record near the bottom of the standings.
Once James Reimer was moved to San Jose, Bernier had a bit of a renaissance with the team. He was incredible in March and made the tank race far more interesting than it should have been but like the good soldier he is, Bernier had no problem sitting on the bench to root for Garret Sparks has the Marlies goalie made sure the team stayed below the Oilers in the standings.
With one year left on his contract, Bernier is likely to be back with the team next season. As bad as he was for the first half of the season, Bernier showed that he’s still capable of being a very good NHL goaltender with his play in March. Is he the starter long-term? I sure hope not but given his contract status and the lack of any other option he’s likely to be back next season.
Management will likely be looking to add a goaltender this offseason via trade, but it’s very plausible that Bernier will be the second in a tandem the way he and Reimer entered this seasons.
Bernier is a special case and so I’m going to have to give him two grades.
For his play in the 2016-16 season:
For his dedication to the Tank and contribution to the future health of the franchise: