Grading all three of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ July 1st signings
Photo credit:© Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
By Shane Seney2 months ago
The NHL’s free-agent flood gates were open on July 1st and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager (GM) Brad Treliving decided to avoid a big splash and dip his toes in.
The Maple Leafs ended the first day of free agency with some more depth up front and on the blue line and left a million other questions unanswered. Treliving watched throughout the day as players from last season’s roster were signing all over the place. Everyone was pricing themselves off the 2023-24 Leafs and doing their best to cash in.
Toronto’s GM stuck to his guns and played hardball and you can’t blame him for it. Everyone is screaming for changes and he’s started the process by adding these three players to the organization:
Ryan Reaves (RW) – 3 year, $1.35 million AAV
The Maple Leafs were pushed around too much last season and enough was enough. Regardless of the additions of Luke Schenn, Jake McCabe and Noel Acciari, it didn’t help and Treliving decided to beef up security for the next few years.
The contract length is not ideal for a 36-year-old Reaves, however Toronto’s adding the most intimidating forward in the league. There aren’t many fights Reaves has said no too.
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One of best things about him is how much personality he brings to the rink. Reaves is known as one of the best teammates in the league. You have to be when you’re barely hitting double digits in points each and every season. The 6-foot-2 225lbs Winnipeg, Manitoba native is a character through and through and look for him to have a lot of fun with the media circus which surrounds the Maple Leafs. He’s going to love the attention of playing under the bright lights:
On the ice, expect Reaves to hit everything that moves, engage in scrums after the whistle, and be someone who works hard each and every night. He knows his role and he’s very good at it. He’ll play 10 minutes a night and sit out once the game is in the final minutes. The Leafs have a new fourth-line right winger and they certainly added some more beef in the process.
Signing Grade: B, a one or two-year deal would have been a B+
John Klingberg (RD) – 1 year, $4.15 million AAV
Treliving didn’t want to pay any added premiums on Luke Schenn or Justin Holl’s contracts and decided a short-term risk like Klingberg was the play. It’s going to be a risky move to hone in the offensive-minded defenseman but if he’s coached properly, signing Klingberg could really pay off for the Maple Leafs.
The 30-year-old blueliner is a rover type who loves to jump in the rush. This is where Sheldon Keefe and company are going to have to get Klingberg to be smart about picking his spots.
He’s bounced around a little bit of late and finished last season in Minnesota with the Wild. Combined between Minny and the Anaheim Ducks, he put up 33 points in 67 games and has the type of game to reach 50 points next season. Too many times the Leafs’ defense went dry when it came to chipping in on offense. The top-two lines are so skilled they need the puck moved up efficiently and effectively and Klingberg has that in his game.
At 6-foot-3 the native of Gothenburg, Sweden is going to hear he’s too soft at times from Leafs Nation next season. He doesn’t hit a ton and isn’t one to throw huge open-ice hits. It’s all offense, all the time and adding this type of defenseman, especially on the right side, likely takes the Maple Leafs out of the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes.
Klingberg could see some some time with TJ Brodie in 2023-24. However, it wouldn’t be the hardest pair to play against as neither of them use the body enough, which is why a more physical defenseman like Jake McCabe may be perfectly suited as a d-partner.
All in all, a low-risk high-reward type of signing which is only $750,000 more than the Detroit Red Wings are playing Holl. Solid upgrade.
Signing Grade: B
William Lagesson – (LD) – 1 year, $775,000 AAV
Certainly the smallest of the three moves by Treliving on day one, Lagesson is brought in as a depth option and someone who should see a reasonable amount of ice time with the Toronto Marlies.
Lagesson’s able to chip in from the back end and put up 32 points in 65 games last season with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. He’s only managed 60 NHL games since being selected in the fourth round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2014.
Strictly a depth move for the Marlies and it’s not likely we see Lagesson get much playing time in the NHL next season. If injuries occur, he’ll be part of the conversation for next man up. Look for Connor Timmins and/or Topi Niemela to get first crack.
Lagesson is a solid AHL depth piece and expectation is he’ll be a top-pair option for the Marlies. One who can play in all situations and lead by example in the room.
Signing Grade: C
Treliving had a slow first day but it does sound like there’s so more lines in the water. Could it be signing one of Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, Jonathan Toews, or maybe Matt Dumba? Perhaps the Karlsson trade talks get off the ground again. What’s going on with Matt Murray? And there’s also William Nylander and Auston Matthews’ extensions to worry about and it does sound like Matthews is much closer to putting pen to paper.
There’s a lot going on and Treliving has hit the ground running. He’s managed to add some beef to the bottom six and a puck-moving defenseman to the blue line. Ryan O’Reilly wanted to play in Nashville, and the rest of the Leafs’ pending free agents priced themselves elsewhere. While it could have been much worse, an underwhelming July 1st for Leafs Nation.
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