Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
Given the way this year has gone, I feel like Seth Griffith has mastered living his life through carry-on luggage. For the second time this season, the Toronto Maple Leafs have claimed the 24-year-old winger off of waivers; this time taking plucking him from the Florida Panthers to advantage of the wire rules, which allow them to send him to the Toronto Marlies.
Griffith was originally claimed by the Maple Leafs on October 11th, after being placed on the wire by the Boston Bruins. His time here lasted all of three pointless games over the course of a month, before being placed back on the wire and claimed by the Florida Panthers.
The Panthers tinkered a little more with Griffith over their time with him, but still couldn’t quite find a consistent line or deployment scenario for him. In 21 games, the Wallaceburg, Ontario native was unable to pick up a goal, but notched five assists.
Griffith suffered a setback on January 4th when hit by an elbow to the head from Winnipeg Jets forward Nikolaj Ehlers. Since then, he has played in just one game.
While he hasn’t produced to expectation this year, there are still slight signs of encouragement. Griffith’s team-relative shot attempt differential (CF% Rel) sits at +3.0% so far this season, ranked sixth among Panthers forwards. He’s not shooting as much has he should (less than a shot on goal a game), but it’s unlikely that he’s going to go 0-for-X forever, and with his surrounding teammates combining for a 6.6 SH% with him on the ice this year, he hasn’t had a ton of support.
What’s interesting, though, is because the Leafs previously had him this season, and because they were the only interested party this go-around, they’re able to send him down to the Toronto Marlies, which they’ve already done. I think that’s the right call here; even if he’s a useful-ish forward for the Leafs right now, getting his confidence back and giving him a bit more of a spread-out schedule to ensure his concussion symptoms have fully gone away would be the best option for the player in the immediate.
It would also be beneficial to the Marlies, who desperately lack scoring right now. Las year, the 2012 5th round pick was one of the best players in the American Hockey League, scoring 24 goals and adding 53 assists in 57 games. With Kasperi Kapanen out of the lineup, getting Griffith on board now will do them a world of good.
Whether or not he ends up back with the big club before the season ends, this seems like a positive move for the Leafs organization. Whether he wins back a spot or helps out the Marlies, either outcome is good for what is effectively found money.