That’s right folks, on November 12th the Seth Griffith ERA was DONE in Toronto (s/o to the SDP). The Leafs chose to waive him due to the return to health of Matt Hunwick and the recall of Nikita Soshnikov. This created an overstocked roster. The Leafs claimed him off of waivers just one month earlier from the Boston Bruins.
As an undersized winger, the Leafs seemed to feel that Seth Griffith was an asset they had no use for, with other undersized forwards present on the roster, and more coming through the pipeline. And there is merit to that when it comes to the future of the organization, no doubt. It would be surprising if Griffith was going to be a Leaf for long, with so many young forwards on his heels.
But in this season, I would argue that Seth Griffith deserved more of a chance. There are multiple forwards he could have misplaced in the lineup who were also underperforming. We’re talking about improvements on the margins for the most part, but improvements were theoretically possible. He also was never given an opportunity in a 4th line centre role, due to that slot being undeservedly reserved for physical hockey players.
I think it’s easy to imagine that there are biases around Seth Griffith causing the conversation about him to be deformed. He’s small. We know that there’s a tendency for “old school” hockey types to undervalue anyone who is less than 6’0″ tall. But at the same time, what I’ll call the “Newton’s 3rd law bias” exists as well. Us “new school” hockey types also have a tendency to overvalue players who put up good production numbers on their way to the NHL. It’s founded in solid research that these players are generally valuable, but there are always productive forwards who just don’t have the other skills to make it in the NHL. It’s okay if Mike Babcock and Co. think that Seth Griffith is one of them.
We know about Griffith’s AHL production, but we also know about his “advanced” metrics during his time in Boston, and frankly they aren’t that good. He was a -3.09 relative CF% (shot attempts relative to his team when he’s not on the ice) player in Boston, which is not a great showing. While his apparent offensive ability is certainly salivating, I doubt he ever would have been an impact player for the Maple Leafs.
All in all, I’m going to call this a loss, but it’s one of the smallest losses you could have, and one that the Leafs’ prospect pipeline will allow them to recover from without ever noticing that they lost.
I wish Griffith all the best in Florida, and will look forward to the day when the Leafs’ small forwards have their chance to beat the narrative.