Who says nothing happens before the NHL holiday roster freeze? Certainly not me. While it’s far from a blockbuster, the Leafs did part ways with one of their better known fan favourite players on the Marlies.
Out goes Kurtis Gabriel, and in comes the needed defensive help for the Marlies, with some potential for NHL upside.
We’ll start with the Gabriel side of the coin here.
With the recent acquisition of @Kyle Clifford, the writing was pretty much on the wall that Kurtis Gabriel had no path to the NHL with the Leafs. While he put up some numbers and stood up for his teammates nicely in training camp, we all witnessed his deficiency in skating, and that was going to make him a liability, even on the fourth line in the NHL.
Going to the Blackhawks, a team that wants to be tough to play against, but also unload as many NHL players as it can between now and the trade deadline, they’ll be in need of NHL capable bodies who won’t interfere with their pursuit of a draft lottery position. Enter Kurtis Gabriel. We wish him the best.
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On the flip side of that, the Leafs have acquired defenseman Chad Krys, who will immediately player a role on the Marlies with the abundance of callups and injuries surrounding the Leafs blueline.
As a former 2nd round pick, in 2016, that some draft guides had placed as a possible first rounder, Krys has had an underwhelming pro career that was initially slowed by an injury early in his career. He had a strong collegiate career, and was a USNTDP standout at the time of Auston Matthews, but more importantly while Marlies GM Ryan Hardy was involved in the USNTDP as well. This could certainly be a reclamation project where the Leafs take a bit of time to see if they can unlock Krys’ potential. Just don’t count on it coming this season.
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Season
Team
League
GP
G
A
P
PIM
2014-15
 USNTDP Juniors
USHL
35
4
22
26
16
 U.S. National U17 Team
USDP
41
3
26
29
22
 U.S. National U18 Team
USDP
22
3
17
20
6
 USA U17
WHC-17
6
0
7
7
2
 USA U18
WJC-18
7
1
4
5
4
2015-16
 USNTDP Juniors
USHL
18
2
11
13
19
 U.S. National U18 Team
USDP
53
3
26
29
78
 USA U18 “A”
WJC-18
7
0
3
3
33
 USA U20
WJC-20
7
0
0
0
2
2016-17
 Boston Univ.
NCAA
39
5
6
11
10
2017-18
 Boston Univ.
NCAA
36
7
20
27
16
2018-19
 Boston Univ. “A”
NCAA
30
8
12
20
12
 Rockford IceHogs
AHL
9
0
4
4
8
2019-20
 Rockford IceHogs
AHL
41
2
6
8
18
2020-21
 Rockford IceHogs
AHL
6
0
2
2
0
2021-22
 Rockford IceHogs
AHL
8
0
1
1
2
Statistically there’s not a lot there to be excited about, but there is a good chance this deal is more about giving Gabriel a chance to play and having an interesting project for Greg Moore as Kristians Rubins graduates.
At 23, Krys’ entry level contract expires at the end of this season, and he is not arbitration eligible. He’d be an affordable, and easy option for the Leafs to explore further beyond this season if they are interested and shows the slightest signs of improvement.