Keefe’s covering for Klingberg, moving on from Kampf, and Robertson’s a fit: Leaflets

Photo credit:Steven Ellis/Daily Faceoff
Jon Steitzer
3 months ago
One of the things about writing this in advance of the Leafs game on Friday night is I feel like I’ve given up on any chance of having the right tone to the article. Are people pumped the Leafs won? Did the 4th line show up? I have no idea. I almost think if things went well this post will be even more relevant because it’s a reminder that things still need to get better. If it went poorly, well…I probably should have been more specific about what sucked.
Anyways, here’s a quick rundown of my hot-ish takes on the Leafs.

Klingberg’s “injury”

Elliotte Friedman’s appearance on The Jeff Marek Show hit a lot of the right tones in regards to the John Klingberg situation. Elliotte Friedman stated whether Klingberg was healthy or not, he wouldn’t play on Friday night. He also went into how this is absolutely the coach protecting his player in some way and giving a reason for why John hasn’t played well. Elliotte also went into how Klingberg has had chronic hip issues (another thing pointing to what a terrible signing Klingberg was, but I guess we also know what will land him on Robidas Island) and that hip issues could be a reason for keeping him out as another player commented to Friedman that Klingberg doesn’t look right on the ice.
I think there is a lot of good information there and helpful perspective. I also think there is something about Keefe’s situation that needs to be considered. Keefe likely didn’t want to play Klingberg, but he has a new boss that just brought in an unusable player. Rather than saying “Klingberg doesn’t help our blueline and I don’t want to use him” he has leaned into a reason that avoids making him look critical of Brad Treliving’s flushing of $4.1M down the toilet.
If they are playing the injury card it makes sense to keep Klingberg out for the weekend unless this is one of those 24 hour hip issues.

Moving on from Kampf is a path to cap space

I want to start off by saying my feelings on Kampf aren’t based in hindsight. Re-signing David Kampf was a bad idea in June and we are seeing it play out predictably. A big part of that is that Kampf already took a big step back last season as he was relied on in fourth line situations more frequently and not working particularly well with players like Zach Aston-Reese or Sam Lafferty, who also both seemed to play better away from Kampf.
So giving David Kampf a raise and locking him in for four seasons was a bad call and predictably so. For all the talk about Brad Treliving’s signings that need time to adjust to the Leafs, it’s worth remembering that the signing who didn’t need an adjustment period is struggling just as much.
So it’s in that spirit that the Leafs need to start looking at ways to get Kampf off their roster. There isn’t going to be any kind of return, so don’t think that trading Kampf yields you a defenceman that helps the Leafs, unless they take on someone who could equally be in the need of a change of scenery, but instead the best case scenario might be that Kampf gets sent to a team that could use a veteran centre during their rebuild and the Leafs can gain $1.6M when they replace Kampf’s roster spot with either Holmberg or Gambrell.

Nick Robertson and Max Domi a perfect pairing

This is another one of those topics that certainly could have been seen from a mile away. You’ve got one forward who loves to shoot and another forward who loves to pass, it’s probably a good idea to put them together.
I’m sure this was noticed by many heading into training camp and the Leafs certainly did their best to find ways to make it work but with the acknowledgement that neither player has any interest in what happens in their defensive zone.
The fact that the Leafs have been able to add Calle Jarnkrok to this line seems to have set things right and if the Leafs are moving away from Ryan Reaves as someone is in the lineup every night, they could potentially have a defence first fourth line that can offset the defensive short comings of this unit.
Robertson looking like he can become Domi’s finisher is maybe still in wishful thinking territory, after all the Leafs also believed that Matthew Knies was that guy but their chemistry didn’t last beyond one game. Robertson and Domi have managed to look like a fit for at least a couple of nights and given that both players are undersized players with mouths on them, they have the potential to add some personality to the Leafs third line and they can be difficult to deal with in their own way.
In a time when so many things are going wrong for the Maple Leafs, it is nice that we can finally see Nick Robertson’s career heading in the right direction and hopefully improved health can also be a part of his future.

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