Connor Dewar brings piss-and-vinegar, PK expertise to Maple Leafs bottom-six

Photo credit:© Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
Low-risk, high reward. Don’t let the quiet deadline fool you, Connor Dewar has a chance to make an impact on the Maple Leafs, not only the rest of this season, but beyond. What’s his area of expertise? Penalty killing.
Dewar was acquired from the Minnesota Wild for a fourth-round draft pick and forward prospect Dmitry Ovchinnikov in 2026. Let’s start with where he’s likely going to play in Toronto’s lineup. One of the biggest attributes Dewar brings to the table is the fact he’s versatile. He can not only play centre, his primary position, but can also slide over to the wing if need be. He’s taken 386 faceoffs this season for the Wild, winning 47%. While the winning percentage does need some work, centres are like defencemen, you can never have enough.
Dewar projects to push David Kampf for fourth-line centre duties and likely gets his first crack in the Maple Leafs lineup at fourth-line LW. He’s also scored 10 goals this season and can effectively kill penalties, which means Bobby McMann was just put on notice. Having internal competition in your bottom six is a blessing, so adding Dewar to the mix should help push results among the Leafs bottom two lines.
Dewar’s abilities to be defensive first do not go unnoticed, but also, his 10 goals are worth circling this season. The former third-round pick has potted a career-high 10 snipes this season, nine coming at even strength and one shorthanded. 10 goals in 57 games for a player seeing 11 minutes of ice-time a night is impressive. The efficiency is there, the tenacity is there, and Leafs fans are going to love the fact he doesn’t shy away from contact. Dewar’s delivered 94 hits this season, which now ranks him fourth in Toronto among forwards. Playing a team like the Bruins in the playoffs, Toronto’s going to need guys who are willing to push back and Dewar certainly fits the bill.

Maple Leafs PK Improves With Dewar

The Leafs currently rank 22nd in the NHL in PK efficiency and with some of their big guns playing too much shorthanded, a player like Dewar can now step in and take off some of the load. While he’s accustomed to playing a bottom-six role in Minny, he’s been one of the best penalty killers and has been seeing time on their first unit.
Dewar can slot in alongside either Kampf or Marner, or he can become the cataylst of the Leafs 2nd PK alongside Calle Jarnkrok. One thing the Leafs wanted to do, from the sounds of it, was ensure Matthews and Nylander are playing less shorthanded, to ensure they stay as fresh as possible for the playoff run. Adding Dewar now helps the cause.
Not only will Dewar provide another option on the Leafs PK, his defensive metrics 5vs5 have been quite impressive this season on a struggling Wild hockey club. Treliving made a point to go out and land shut-down d-men in Ilya Lyubushkin and Joel Edmundson, and now with Dewar, it has become quite obvious where the Leafs GM felt the team was lacking. Last season More Hockey Stats ranked Dewar the second-best shorthanded player in the entire NHL, only behind some other guy named Connor. The graphic from JFresh on Twitter gives you a good idea of his PK efficiency and even strength defensive abilities, ranking among the leagues best:
At just 24 years old and a pending restricted free agent, Dewar has a chance to find a new home with the Maple Leafs and become a staple on the team’s bottom six. Of late, it’s been obvious the coaching staff is pushing the likes of Gregor and Holmberg for more results and again, it can’t be preached enough, the internal competition among the bottom two lines can only help the Leafs. Keefe has plenty of options moving forward in the last 19 games of the season and now it’s going to be on the coaching staff to align things properly for a potential playoff series against the Boston Bruins.
While many Leafs fans wanted a blockbuster and they wanted someone to ‘move the needle’, Dewar’s a player the fanbase is quickly going to fall in love with. His motor is impressive, his defensive abilities and tenacity will soon be on notice, you can expect him to contribute in a major way on the Leafs PK. Penalty killing will be vital in the playoffs, and the Leafs’ need for an upgrade on the penalty kill was tabbed from the get-go. Treliving knew this, and with the trio of moves he’s pulled off before the deadline, the team is better than they were a month ago even if there wasn’t a Ryan O’Reilly or a Jake McCabe.

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