Noel Acciari: Back with the Toronto Maple Leafs or gone in 2023-24?

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
10 months ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs opened the floodgates at the 2023 trade deadline with the Ryan O’Reilly trade. And while Noel Acciari’s name didn’t quite get the same spotlight when it was announced, I would argue that he was just as important to that deal as O’Reilly was. The Maple Leafs had stressed the importance of getting harder to play against when crunch time came, and there may not have been a better forward to fit that mold than he did. 
Acciari was a member of both Boston Bruins teams that eliminated the Maple Leafs in 2017-18 and 2018-19. He also spent three years with the Florida Panthers and was in the middle of a one-year contract with the St. Louis Blues before the trade to Toronto.
He’s not a guy known for his offense (obviously), but he makes up for it on the physical side of the game. He finished the season tenth in the league in hits with 244, and kicked it up several notches in the playoffs, finishing with a whopping 78 hits through 11 games, 24 more hits than Luke Schenn, who had the second-most on the team. That rate rounds out to approximately seven hits per game. 
Acciari is an unrestricted free agent who will hit the market on July 1st, but he said in his end of season media availability that he would “love” to return to Toronto. In this case, you’d hope that the love between Acciari and newly appointed-GM Brad Treliving is mutual, because the Maple Leafs should do whatever they can to bring him back. 

Contract Projection: 2 years, $1.5 million 

Acciari was acquired to fulfill a bottom six role with the team, and his contract this year paid him $1.25 million, so I think $1.5 million would be an appropriate figure for him. They may even be able to get him for cheaper than that, but given the amount of money they’ve been known to dedicate to their bottom six forwards, such as David Kampf at $1.5 million over two years, I think a similar deal for Acciari is reasonable.
While the status of Kampf himself is up in the air, the Maple Leafs’ bottom six could look a whole lot different next season. In Treliving’s introductory press conference, he mentioned the importance of having a strong presence in front of the net. At 5-foot-10 and 209 pounds, Acciari is the perfect mold to wreak havoc in front of the net, and the fact that he can play any forward position helps too.
If there ends up being a bidding war among a bunch of different teams for him, then the Maple Leafs will have to be a little more careful in how much they offer him, especially considering Treliving has somewhat of a history of overpaying for bottom-six forwards. But if they can get him at a similar value to what the Blues got him for, it should be a no-brainer, especially for the value he brings when it’s crunch time.

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