Alex Kerfoot: Back with the Maple Leafs or gone in 2023-24?

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 year ago
If you want to pinpoint the player who’s been the subject of more discourse than just about anybody else on the team, look no further than Alex Kerfoot. He had the unfortunate task of being the forward in the trade that brought him along with Tyson Barrie to Toronto from Colorado, with fan favourite Nazem Kadri headed back the other way. 
At the time, there was an argument to be made that the Maple Leafs had to trade Kadri. He had developed a reputation for not being able to keep his emotions in check in the playoffs, having been suspended early in the first round series for the second year in a row. On top of this, he had a price tag of $4.5 million per year at the time, which was expensive for a third line centre given that the Maple Leafs had just signed John Tavares to a seven-year contract.
Anyway – we don’t need to discuss this trade anymore. It aged horribly, as we all know, and ended up being former general manager Kyle Dubas’ worst during his time here.
While Barrie only lasted one year in Toronto, the Maple Leafs inked Kerfoot to a four-year contract worth $3.5 million right away, hoping he would ideally take Kadri’s place up the middle on the third line. By the end of it, the theme for the Vancouver native in Toronto was that he was fine, but simply wasn’t Kadri. He was one of the better skaters on the team and solid defensively, but inconsistent offensively and didn’t possess the same bite Kadri had. 
His peak was in 2021-22, where he recorded 51 points in 82 games for a career high, but again – the inconsistency killed him. He didn’t eclipse 30 points in either of his first two seasons with the team, and dropped back to 32 from 51 this season. That said, he still had his moments, including the overtime winner in Game 4 against Tampa Bay this year.
I think there was already a general belief that he wouldn’t be re-signed after this season, and I don’t think that changes with the new GM.

Cap hit projection: $2.5 million 

When you look at Kerfoot’s body of work over the past four years, it seems unlikely that he’ll command a raise. In fact, he may even have to settle for lower depending on what the interest level is. That being said, I think the Maple Leafs would be better off cutting ties with him and replacing him with either an internal option, or a player with more of a physical edge. 
Kerfoot was notably a favourite of both Dubas and Sheldon Keefe, and with the former out of the picture, it seems even less likely that the Maple Leafs bring him back. He can still use his 51-point season as leverage, and a team with a little more cap space to play with will probably offer him a better deal than anything he’d get from Toronto. He’s a decent player, but certainly someone the Maple Leafs could replace without throwing off the whole forward group.

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