Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Highs and Lows: The Outsiders

Now that the offseason can officially be pronounced dead (barring an Erik Karlsson trade or a William Nylander extension), we can start looking at the roster, and what we can expect from the roster in the 2018-19 season. This might be a hot take to some, but the Leafs made some big improvements this offseason, particularly with the addition of John Tavares, so we can certainly expect this team to make strides this season, but it might not go as expected.

Taking from our buddies at Oilers Nation, over the next little while, I’m going to be looking at the Leafs roster, and seeing what the best and worst case scenarios are for all of the Leafs. Of course, this will be assuming that these players don’t get injured at all this season, and that they won’t get traded, but I’m going to try and make realistic ceilings and floors for what we can expect from the Leafs this season.

We’ve reached the final installment of this series, as we’ll be looking at all the players left on the roster, but aren’t guaranteed a lineup spot every game.

Dec 20, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Connor Carrick (8) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Connor Carrick

Ceiling: I would’ve loved to include Carrick in the defenseman article, but knowing Babcock, there’s no guarantee that Carrick consistently makes the team. Despite playing less games with the Leafs last season, he put up a career high 12 points in only 47 games.

If Carrick can get a consistent role, and maybe some more ice time, it could be possible that he has a 20-25 point season, and also has a solid defensive season, good enough to give him a top 4 role next season.

Floor: Of course, of the Leafs top six defensemen right now, Carrick is number six in Babcock’s eyes, so he’s probably the odd man out if a Justin Holl, Martin Marincin, or Timothy Liljegren make the team out of camp.

If this is the case, Carrick’s floor is probably something similar to last season, where he draws into about half of the games, and gets around 10 points in a bottom pair role.

Feb 14, 2017; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Josh Leivo (32) celebrates after scoring a goal as New York Islanders forward Josh Bailey (12) looks on during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Josh Leivo

Ceiling: It seems like Leivo might be the most talked about player on the Leafs sometimes, with his inconsistent playing, mostly due to Babcock, and how he seems to have fallen out of favour with the coach. In only 57 games, he has 22 points, which isn’t bad for a player who barely plays consecutive games, and usually plays on the fourth line.

For Leivo’s ceiling, he could certainly be a productive player in a third or fourth line role, and put up 20-30 points, if he were to draw in on a night by night basis. At age 25, it’s unlikely it happens, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility if the Leafs play him.

Floor: The nice thing about Leivo’s current situation is that it can’t get much lower.

So, his floor would essentially be what we saw the last couple seasons, where he draws into 10-15 games, and puts up 5-10 points. With better and younger players in the system that continue to pass him, it’s hard to see him really finding a spot with the team.

Par Lindholm

Ceiling: It’s hard to get a grasp as to what the 26 year old center is capable of. His most recent season in the SHL saw him put up 47 points in 49 games, so he has some offensive potential, but it might not translate to the NHL.

I think that Lindholm’s ceiling with the Leafs would be something that sees him put up 20-30 points, and be a consistent draw in as the fourth line centre. It’s unlikely that he’d get a ton of ice time, with Matthews, Tavares, and Kadri in front of him, but he doesn’t really need to.

Floor: Of course, it could be just as likely that Lindholm’s skills don’t translate to the NHL at all, and suddenly he’s looking at a situation where he doesn’t make the team.

This would see a situation where his floor is that he just plays on the Marlies, since he’s waiver exempt, and maybe gets some games if one of the centers get hurt during the season.

Mar 25, 2017; Buffalo, NY, USA; Buffalo Sabres defenseman Dmitry Kulikov (77) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with left wing Tyler Ennis (63) during the second period at KeyBank Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Ennis

Ceiling: Dubas’ buy low depth signing of the 2018-19 season, Ennis has had a rough stretch these last few years, resulting in him being traded to Minnesota as a cap dump last season, and then bought out by the Wild this offseason. But before then, Ennis was a consistent 30-40 point guy for the Buffalo Sabres.

While he was much younger when he was producing at that level, there’s certainly potential for him to hit that level again, especially while he’s on a show me deal with the Leafs. If he plays most games for the Leafs, there’s a chance he could put up 30, maybe even 40 points this season.

Floor: Of course, there’s no guarantee that he can reach that level again. His three most recent seasons that have been plagued with injuries and inconsistent play are probably a better indication of his play.

With this in mind, it’s likely that Ennis’ floor sees him play in about half of the games, and gets 10-20 points.

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  • magesticRAGE

    Man I hope Leivo gets legit playing time this season. Even if it means he move on at season’s end, at least he gets his career back on track. He’s way too good of a player to sit in the press box.