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Photo Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

What if the Leafs’ roster was made solely of players they “should’ve kept”?

There’s an infamous Anne Murray tweet that goes around every time the Leafs hit a rut.

It popped up during the team’s recent 6-game slide.

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But instead of wishing the Leafs were simply better, what if Anne wished the Leafs were made up of players they used to have, but got rid of?

Introducing…

The 2019-20 Leafs’ “Should’ve Kept” Roster


Criteria

  • Played for the Leafs since 2013
  • Be of age where they could still be in the NHL (and are healthy and not retired). For example, Dave Bolland could be in the NHL, but he’s not. Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski will also not be making this team
  • Not be involved in a trade for any other player on the roster
  • Their cap hit is equal to their current cap hit. If they’re out of the NHL, I’ll give them a cool $1mx1 year deal.

(Note: this really isn’t that serious. Don’t take it as such)

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I started calculating what this team’s cap hit would look like, and they were so laughably far underneath the cap that they could sign basically any free agent in the league. They could probably sign four of the top five free agents and be fine.

This might be because they have maybe four players who have ever played in a top-6 regularly and five of their defenceman aren’t current NHL regulars, and they would almost certainly be very bad. It looks remarkably similar to a Leafs team of 2014 or so, so maybe we shouldn’t expect much from this hypothetical roster.

Forwards

JVR-Tyler Bozak-Phil Kessel

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Originally I was just going to include Phil, but I realize you could’ve kept all three. While Kessel was traded for Kasperi Kapanen and essentially picks that translated into Frederik Andersen, JVR and Bozak were not re-signed as to sign John Tavares. The top line of the Leafs from 2013-15, all three probably still could’ve been Leafs had the team’s management wanted to keep them. But  while they were a ton of fun to watch, it’s hard to argue with the results that has come from moving on from one of the most dynamic Leafs lines of my lifetime.

Richard Panik-Nazem Kadri-Tyler Ennis

The Kadri for Barrie/Kerfoot trade was a bad one, they said. We’re not about to litigate that right now, but after Tyson Barrie has scored twice in two games, I might forget who Nazem Kadri is altogether. Ennis of course signed in Ottawa this past year, while Panik is currently rocking a cool one goal and no assists in fifteen games in Washington this year.

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Josh Leivo-Mark Arcobello-Nikita Soshnikov

No comments needed.

If you’re going to argue Josh Leivo (who’s got 11 points this season in 25 games in Vancouver) should be higher in the lineup you’re probably right. Too bad for you, though, as he’s not going to be moved. Markobello is currently a point per game player with SC Bern in Switzerland (24 points in 23 games). Meanwhile, Soshnikov is out in Russia with Ufa Salavat Yulayev. Second in team scoring to the great Linus Omark! Now there’s a name you hadn’t heard for a while.

Matt Martin-Brian Boyle-Leo Komarov

Bang! Krash! Bump!

A couple of current Islanders and also a Florida Panther. They’d probably still end up on the fourth line, despite having NHL jobs while 66.7% of the third line doesn’t.

Extras: Seth Griffith, Carter Verhaeghe

A couple AHL lifer guys too, because why not. Griffith has not played in the NHL since 2017-18, where he had 3 points in 21 games for the Buffalo Sabres. Verhaeghe made his NHL debut this season, and has played 14 games. He has one assist.

Defence

Jake Gardiner-Cody Franson

Did you know Cody Franson is playing in the KHL with Omsk Avangard, the same team that the Leafs signed Ilya Mikheyev from? Now you do!

Gardiner meanwhile is doing his thing in Carolina. With a 55.9% CF rate, he’d easily be this team’s best defenceman. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing.

Calle Rosen-Connor Carrick

A throw-in in the Kadri trade, Rosen has been flip-flopping between Colorado and their AHL affiliate (also Colorado), but has yet to step foot on the ice in an NHL game this year. Carrick has played just four games, after undergoing surgery in October.

TJ Brennan-Frank Corrado

The stars of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and the Belleville Senators respectively, the pairing would be, well, 2015 Hockey Twitter’s best dream come true.

Goaltenders

James Reimer-Curtis McElhinney

Reimer has a .910 save percentage for the Carolina Hurricanes, while McElhinney has a .911 in Tampa.

I don’t want to speculate too much, but I might actually be insane enough to take that tandem over an Andersen-Hutchinson one.


Overall, this team kinda sucks, even if there’s some fun pieces. But if the team wanted it to, it could be what the team looks like. If you’re a real one, make this team in NHL 20 and let me know how they do.