It’s been over two months since the NHL suspended the season due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and an extra couple games since the Leafs beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1, their last game before said suspension. While the team hasn’t been able to hit the ice for the last couple months, that hasn’t stopped them from making a few transactions to help improve the team while they have all this time on their hands. Let’s take a quick look at how the Leafs have been doing for the last couple months.
The so-called highlight in terms of transactions for the Leafs was the signing of European free agent Mikko Lehtonen, who led both his team and all KHL defensemen in scoring with 17 goals and 49 points this season. We still have no clue where he’ll slot into the lineup next season, and who may have to leave in order to make him fit, but at the very least, we have some idea as to what kind of a player he might be for us.
Besides, we stole him from the Montreal Canadiens, that alone makes him worth it.
The Leafs also signed Alexander Barbanov to a one year ELC. Barbanov spent the previous year in the KHL with St. Petersburg SKA, garnering 11 goals and 20 points in 43 games. The winger will look to contend for an NHL spot next season.
Draft Pick Signings
The Leafs also got a couple more draft picks signed to entry-level contracts. The first one actually happened two days before the league suspended play, but it got lost in the chaos that was going on at the time. That player was Mikhail Abramov, a center who was a 4th round pick for them in last year’s draft. Abramov was signed in the wake of a 35 goal, 76 point season in the QMJHL, which was 35 points more than any of his teammates on the Victoriaville Tigres. Abramov became just the second 2019 draft pick to sign an ELC with the Leafs after Nick Robertson.
The Leafs also signed Filip Kral to an entry-level deal as well. Kral was a defenseman drafted in the 5th round in 2018, and signed after a 12 goal, 49 point season for the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL, good for 10th among WHL defensemen. Kral became the fourth player from that draft to sign an ELC with the Leafs, after Rasmus Sandin, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, and Mac Hollowell.
Also, Kristians Rubins!
In the same day as Kral, the Leafs signed defenseman Kristians Rubins to a two year entry-level deal. Rubins has been in the organization for two seasons now, winning the Kelly Cup with the Newfoundland Growlers in 2019 before joining the Marlies this season with 14 points in 47 games.
The Leafs also have an opening behind the bench, as the Leafs announced that Paul McFarland (the power play assistant coach) will be leaving the organization to be the head coach for the Kingston Frontenacs. Well, not yet, because he’ll still be a part of the team if they manage to salvage any form of this season, but once either the season is cancelled or the Leafs are eliminated, McFarland will be done. It’s likely he gets replaced with one of the Marlies assistant coaches, but some people want to believe that we can convince Boudreau to join the team.
Social Media Presence
Leafs players have also been maintaining a social media presence during quarantine, whether that be speaking out and raising awareness to stay home during the pandemic, Justin Holl keeping up the Leaf-to-Leaf series (the @ Home edition), or Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner reconnecting with Patrick Marleau. It’s far from a transaction, but it’s nice to see the players being responsible, keeping in touch, and having fun during these stressful times.