Sam Lafferty adds additional energy to the Maple Leafs’ forward group
Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
By Nick Barden21 days ago
Sam Lafferty, welcome to the City of Toronto, and welcome to the Maple Leafs.
The 27-year-old, after being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks, joins a bottom-six in Toronto which has a lot of bite. Lafferty will add to that.
In Chicago, you could argue that he was a human wrecking ball. The 27-year-old isn’t afraid to throw his body around wherever he is on the ice, and to this point has 94 hits in 51 games.
That’s more than any Maple Leafs forward this season, aside from Noel Acciari and Zach Aston-Reese.
Lafferty also brings a scoring touch to Toronto’s bottom-six. The 27-year-old has scored 10 goals and added 11 assists thus far on a Chicago team that’s in the NHL’s basement when it comes to the standings.
Toronto already added a bit more depth scoring when they brought in Acciari, but with the offensive upside that Lafferty can add, that line will be very tough to play against.
It also helps that he’s a right shot, which I believe the Maple Leafs needed more of in their bottom-six. Now, they have a right-shot who can play on the right wing in each of their four lines.
The 27-year-old is evidently reliable in the defensive end, though it definitely could be improved. Playing with someone like Acciari will help in that aspect, as will playing for a defensively sound team such as Toronto.
Lafferty did spend some time in Chicago playing centre, and with a 52.4 FO%, he might be a valuable piece to that position for the Maple Leafs in the future. Sheldon Keefe would need to trust him more than Acciari for that to happen, and I’m not sure that will occur.
Either way, the Maple Leafs will have a great time with multiple players who can chip in at centre.
In Chicago, the 27-year-old bounced around between the third and fourth lines, at centre and on both the left and right wings. For the most part, Lafferty would find himself with either Andreas Athanasiou or Colin Blackwell on his wing (or opposite wing).
It appears as though the Blackhawks really liked him at centre, as that’s where he played most before being traded to Toronto.
When it comes to advanced stats with the Blackhawks, Lafferty has some of the best numbers on the team. He was first among forwards who played 200+ minutes at five-on-five in CF% (46.44) and also had the 4th-best xGF% (42.78) in a struggling Chicago lineup.
It’s safe to say those numbers, and more of his advanced stats, listed below, will be inflated after he gets into a couple of games with the Maple Leafs.
|(Ranking on the Blackhawks)||46.44 (1st)||42.78 (4th)||43.75 (2nd)||41.20 (5th)|
What also might make Lafferty an important addition for Toronto is his penalty-killing. You can never have enough players to kill penalties. The use of his speed, stick, body, and skill will make him an effective player on one of their two units, if they choose to use him.
The 27-year-old can be involved in plenty of situations for Toronto and that’s what makes him such an enticing add. Even if he’s not utilized in any special teams, he will provide a lot of strong play in a depth role.
He’ll even add some depth scoring — something Toronto has needed for a long time.
Most importantly, for all The Leafs Nation readers out there, Lafferty will bring another aspect of his game to the Maple Leafs. Fighting.
The 27-year-old will bring almost everything needed for Toronto’s bottom-six to have success. I believe this will be looked upon as one of their most key additions this season, if they do make it out of the first round.
The most important part of the Maple Leafs trade was adding Jake McCabe, but acquiring Lafferty, too, was the icing on the cake. A fascinating move that could have some fascinating implications come April.
(Advanced statistics via NaturalStatTrick.com)
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