The offseason isn’t over yet, but it’s most crucial and active month has passed. Since many outlets have begun to give out their grades to various teams across the NHL, we’ve decided to throw our hats into the mix by grading the Toronto Maple Leafs. Here’s what we’ve come up with:
Ryan Fancey: B-
If I had to just strictly grade based on what the Leafs have added, they’d get an A+ because they’ve brought in the best long-term option available this summer in Auston Matthews. But I’m looking at this from a management performance angle, and at most they’ve achieved a B-minus.
Folks seem pretty torn on the draft, but I think the Leafs did fine there, even outside of the Matthews pick. However, they did strike out hard on Stamkos, which has to factor in here slightly, and the rest of free agency has been cause for some concern. Obviously there’s still a ways to go before the season gets going, but as it stands, the Leafs have simply won the lottery and taken the consensus number one guy (which anyone can do), traded for a goalie and handed him too much money and term based on his limited track record, and then signed two players in free agency that have zero upside for another combined 5-million dollars in cap space. The Rychel trade was a nice bright spot, but it’s a minor deal, and otherwise this group hasn’t done great work that would warrant an “A” grade this offseason.
Keegan Tremblay: B+
Outside of drafting Auston Matthews, I believe management has had a quieter off-season than many fans expected and that’s fine by me. I don’t see missing out on Stamkos as a knock against Lou and company. Stamkos went back to a very talented team in Tampa Bay, the team he’s played for his entire career, a team that just went to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals after playing in the Stanley Cup Finals the year prior. It’s not as if he signed with Montreal
to play with P.K. Subban.
Adding Andersen is a great move in my books but if we’re going to include Bernier in that trade, then I would have liked the price for Andersen to be a little lower because I think Bernier’s value could have been revived as a back-up. The additions of Martin, Polak and Rychel are solid “B” moves that I think will serve a useful purpose. The reason I’m giving management a “B+” is because they’ve kept their word. All of our prized prospects are still in the system. That fact may not be new but it’s still exciting to see.
Ryan Hobart: A-
I thought the Leafs had a decent draft, getting Matthews, Grundstrom, Woll and other interesting prospects. They signed Kadri and Rielly to long term extensions, which I thought was great. I’m incredibly excited for KHL defenseman Nikita Zaitsev. The trade for Kerby Rychel was great. The combined Bernier and Andersen deals I’m “meh” on really. I think they paid more than they should have, but it was an area of need. I feel the same about the Matt Martin signing. Good depth is nice but the contract term is definitely too long.
The biggest negatives for me was missing out on Steven Stamkos, and the rumored pursuit of Kris Russell. Other smaller negatives were the Roman Polak deal and drafting construction pylon Keaton Middleton.
Overall, despite a lot of the complaints I have about the small negatives, I’m very excited for the team going into next year so it’d be hard for me to say the offseason was bad.
Jeff Veillette: B-
Giving the Leafs a rating is something I struggle a bit with. As Ryan Fancey pointed out, it’s hard to give them a plus for Matthews given that that was a gimmie instigated by a random draft lottery with odds created from regular season play. Unlike Ryan Hobart, I also don’t think it’s fair to include Nikita Zaitsev, as their deal with him has been set in stone for nearly a year and signing it now was mostly logistics.
This leaves you with..
- The Kadri and Rielly extensions (both brilliant, especially Kadri’s)
- The rest of the draft (debated but with a general vibe of positivity, though not to last year’s extent)
- The Andersen trade and extension (a very good acquisition, but with a steep cost)
- The Rychel trade (a runaway work of brilliance)
- The Stamkos situation (a superstar fell into their lap and they whiffed along the way)
- The qualifying offers (everything went as expected)
- The signing of Justin Holl (he impressed with the Marlies and it’s a low-risk deal)
- The free agent signings (Martin is good if overpaid. Would’ve preferred other RHD to Polak)
- The Bernier trade (Not overly shocking, smart use of bonus payment to avoid retention)
- and other RFA and organizational moves (Sparks was a good re-up, Marlies are replenishing well)
Overall, the Leafs had a few areas where they appear to have goofed up, or at the very least, don’t appear to have undercut the market in the way that many believed they did a year prior. But nothing here is overly catastrophic; just not the expected slam dunk, and even those moves generally lie somewhere between indifference to decent. The Leafs have had an above average offseason compared to their competition so far, but at the end of the day, you’d also like to do better than good enough. Whatever the case, though, development and even a bit of better luck should lead to a much-improved team in 2016/17.
Have Your Say
What would your grade be? Let us know in the comments below!