Photo Credit: Christian Bonin/TSGPhoto.com
Early yesterday morning, Chris Johnston finally broke through the Lamoriello-run walls of silence and put together a final list of outcomes for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ upcoming restricted free agent class. Six players survived, while three will likely move on to greener pastures.
Rather than overwhelm you with information you don’t need yet on guys who are either leaving with a whimper or still a little while away from signing contracts, I’ll leave you with a single point on each player.
Final #leafs qualifying offers, per sources
Yes: Holland, Leivo, Marincin, C. Carrick, Corrado, Sparks.
No: Percy, S. Carrick, C. Smith
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) June 28, 2016
- Peter Holland: Despite this qualification, I don’t see him being on the team next year as incredibly likely. He is a positive value asset, however, and can likely be used in a quantity-for-quality trade. I wouldn’t suspect that he’s in for much of a raise, and he’s at that prime-but-not-really age that teams like to pick up players in. At the very worst case, he’s a waiver risk in September.
- Josh Leivo: Another player who likely either moves or faces his waiver maker. There’s a train of thought that playing with William Nylander and Mark Arcobello, combined with a shooting percentage spike, may have inflated his “comeback season” more so than the cold spell he had in the year prior. The Leafs have a camp to figure out who the real Josh Leivo is, and my bet is that it’ll be one that sneaks past the waiver wire on a crowded September day and returns to the Marlies.
- Martin Marincin: Loved by spreadsheets and hated by the eyes, Marincin is a good keep. He was Toronto’s top shot suppressor last year (50.49 attempts against per 60 minutes) despite less than ideal zone starts, making him a good fit for a shutdown pairing.
- Connor Carrick: This might be who plays with Marincin, to balance him out with a right handed shot and a bit of offensive spunk. Carrick’s best possession numbers came with Marincin beside him, and Marincin did better with him than without him. Carrick gained a lot of attention for his performance in the AHL playoffs, where he led all teams in scoring despite being a defenceman and not making it to the Calder Cup Finals.
- Frank Corrado: The last of the Corsi Gang, Corrado is also a sleeper to get a low-cost contract yet have a great year. The beauty of all three of these guys (Marincin, Carrick, and Corrado) is that their NHL performances drew a lot of indifference, making negotiations much easier. Corrado’s silver bullet to me is how well he and Morgan Rielly fared together late in the season; it’s a very small sample of just over an hour of even strength hockey, but they averaged a 60.4% CF and a 60.0% GF in that span. Might be worth experimenting with it again come training camp.
- Garret Sparks: This should be a make-or-break year for the youngster. He dominated for most of the AHL season and had moments of promise in the NHL. But injuries hampered him for yet another year. Depending on what happens with Jonathan Bernier, he’ll either be Toronto’s backup or their AHL starter. Mess this one up, though, and he won’t get the same qualifications next year.
- Stuart Percy: A lot of people were rooting for him, but unfortunately, he had yet another setback year thanks to some rough injuries. It doesn’t seem like things are going to get better for the kid, and that’s a real shame; he’s a quiet, steady player that can definitely bring you decent enough NHL hockey at a replacement cost. I certainly hope for his sake that he finds a team.
- Sam Carrick: Nobody is really shocked by this one. Carrick is approaching his mid-20s and hasn’t broken through. Given that his upside his bottom six, he isn’t worth an SPC to a team that teeters on 50 and is trying to develop high-end skill. He’d be well suited to a team that is systematically built around high-danger chances; he loves to crash the net, put pucks towards it, and has zero fear in doing so.
- Colin Smith: Smith was a quality player for the Marlies after being acquired in the Shawn Matthias deal, finishing just under a point per game in the regular season (22 in 23) and picking up points in their last three playoff games. With that said, there’s a lot of speculation attached to his name right now. Smith’s KHL rights were obtained via draft by Latvian club Dynamo Riga in May and traded almost immediately to financial powerhouse CSKA Moscow. CKSA is where Nikita Zaitsev played last season, and can afford to give a player decent bucks; especially if they think they’re getting vengeance for losing a player. Whether a signing happens there remains to be seen, Toronto has no reason to hold the rights of a B-level prospect if they don’t know when they’ll see him again.
Overall, I think these were the same decisions I would have made in management’s shoes. Leivo and Holland are coin tosses without knowing what the demand for the might be across the league, the defencemen were slam dunks, they don’t have enough goalies to let a potentially decent prospect go and there’s probably a fair reason to shed three contracts that were used on players with lower percentages of graduation.
How do you feel about it. Did the Leafs hold on to someone they shouldn’t have? Let go of someone they should have kept? I’m all ears.