After a couple of losses, and some “soft play” from the Leafs, there’s been an overwhelming outcry from the “Old Guard” for the Leafs to “man up” and become a heavy hitting team, that’s hard to play against in the playoffs (or at the least the second round, because that’s usually how long these kind of teams last).
So, I decided to look at some “heavy” hockey players that the Leafs could add to toughen up for a playoff run. I don’t agree with all these picks (and I’ll say why), but they are options for the Leafs.
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. Simmonds has been most Leafs fans wet dream ever since his 28 goal season in 2011-12 for the Flyers. With this being the last year of his $3.975 million contract, and the Flyers doing as poorly as they are, Simmonds has been an easy target for trade rumours, and with the Leafs in the position they are, it would make perfect sense to make a deal.
Would it be a good idea? Simply, no. He’s only on pace for 37 points (albeit 26 of those are goals), and he requires an extension if you really want to make the trade worth it. And the extension has bad written all over it. A gritty player who can score lots of goals, but is already on the decline? That has $6-7 million long term written all over it. I love Wayne Simmonds game, but not enough to bring him in for either 20-30 games or really long term. He’s not even the guy on Philly I’d go for…
Speaking of Flyers who are amidst trade rumours, Gudas is another one that has dominated the airwaves. Unlike Simmonds, Gudas is actually having a really good year offensively (he’s on pace for 24 points over 82 games, a career high), and has always managed to put up insanely good possession numbers on Flyers teams that are inconsistent at best.
Would it be a good idea? Gudas would be a good fit on this team for several reasons. First, he’s a right shot defenseman, and a good one, something the Leafs desperately need. Secondly, his contract runs into next season, which has been something Kyle Dubas has been keeping his eye out for, or so he’s said. Also, and this is a weird one, but his penalty minutes might not be a bad thing to add, since taking more penalties might also mean getting more power plays. While he has moments that get him into lots of trouble, that good far outweighs the bad on this one, and he might be a cheaper get than Simmonds.
I know what you’re thinking, why is Parayko considered a “heavy” player? While he’s not this physical player that comes to mind when one thinks heavy, but at 6’6″ and 230 pounds, Parayko is a big dude. He hasn’t been having a good season, but then again, his team isn’t either, so that’s more a “quality of teammate” and “bad luck” thing, not a “he sucks” thing.
Would it be a good idea? No, it wouldn’t be a *good* idea. It would be an amazing idea for the Leafs to pull off. Parayko could easily play on our top pair, and suddenly our Norris contending defenseman in Morgan Rielly wouldn’t have to drag around Ron Hainsey’s corpse, and he’s on an amazing contract, making $5.5 million for three years after this season. It’s too good to be true.
And it probably is. He’d be a pricey buy, and after that, the Leafs might not be able to squeeze him under the cap after this season. It’d be great if it could work, but it’s not likely.
This one’s the easy one to get, because we have him already. After spending half of the 2017-18 season with the Leafs, Borgman lost his job to Travis Dermott, and was sent to the minors, where he’s been alright, but hasn’t really impressed enough to crack the Leafs roster again. In fact, he sometimes can’t even crack the Marlies blueline some nights.
Would it be a good idea? I mean, he’d probably be a better (and cheaper) option than Hainsey or Nikita Zaitsev, but considering that there are already two defenseman that are more capable than him in the press box in Martin Marincin and Justin Holl, and beyond that, guys like Rosen or even Sandin and Liljegren would be better options than Borgman at this point. He’s not bad, but in a pipeline with a lot of defenseman in his caliber of skill, he doesn’t really stand out.
The “Winnipeg Blue Bombers”
Screw it, if we’re gonna revert back to face punching to solve our problems, let’s bring back the toughest fourth line in Leafs history, or at least the two key cogs of it. Sure, Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren are retired, but they’re only 36 and 31. If 50 year old Ron Hainsey can play top pair minutes, Orr and McLaren can play five minutes a night to punch guys like Brad Marchand and Tom Wilson in the face.
Would it be a good idea? NO! I hate myself for even bringing this up. They literally combined for 0 points in 2013-14, they would somehow get negative points five years later.