Photo Credit: Tom Szczerbowski / USA TODAY Sports

RFAs, the sequel: Seth Griffith and Sergey Kalinin

In the last episode of this series, we took a look at Connor Brown and his contractual future with the Maple Leafs. Today’s post is another combination post, looking at two of the Leafs’ depth forwards: Seth Griffith and Sergey Kalinin.

The Players

Seth Griffith is one of the more interesting depth forwards in the Leafs’ organization. Having been claimed off waivers from Boston at the start of the year, then waived by the Leafs and claimed by Florida, and then claimed again by the Leafs from Florida and assigned to the Marlies. Griffith has been one of the most offensively dominant forwards in the American Hockey League over the past few seasons. Unfortunately, his NHL appearances haven’t been very fruitful which has led to his minor league assignment.

Kalinin was a sort of emergency replacement when the Leafs had Gauthier up with the NHL club and the Marlies were lacking in available centres. He was traded for Viktor Loov from the New Jersey Devils. He hasn’t made much impact on the team, however, being in and out of the lineup as a bottom 6 centre.

The Stats

In the NHL, neither of these players were very productive. Griffith scored just 6 points in 28 games, and Kalinin just 4 points in 43 games.

The AHL was a bit more favourable to Griffith where he has been a production machine the last 2 years. He scored 44 points in 37 games, while Kalinin again only scored 4, this time in 19 games.

The WAR model by DTMAboutHeart paints a clearer picture about these two players than just points ever could. Let’s take a look at it here:

SERGEY.KALININ 550 428 22 -1.6 -0.4 0 -0.4 0.4 -0.1 -2 -2 -2
SETH.GRIFFITH 306 258 35 -0.3 0 0.1 0 0.1 0 -0.3 -0.2 -0.1

For an explanation of these components please read through DTM’s write-up, all of which are here (scroll all the way to the bottom to start at the primer).

Interesting that neither of these players performed as above replacement players in the 2016-17 season. This makes sense given that box score stats (including goals and assists) are a big part of the model. But I’m a little surprised the shot attempt numbers weren’t enough to justify Griffith as a quality NHL player. Kalinin as low as he is is also a little surprising, I had assumed he was at replacement level but the model indicated that he is significantly below.

I find most interesting that Griffith doesn’t show any clear weaknesses in the components of the WAR model. It seems that he is, in general, just not good enough to succeed at the NHL level. As for Kalinin, his biggest weakness is clearly his offensive incapability.

The Money

This should be a quick one. The fact that the Leafs have an abundance of depth forwards coming up through their ranks, combined with the value of optimizing your 50 allotted contract slots, we have a situation where the GM is likely to strongly consider being ruthless and simply cutting ties.

Sergey Kalinin

I’m not going to bother outlining Optimistic, Realistic or Pessimistic options for Sergey Kalinin. There’s just so little a chance that the Leafs bring him back in the organization in any capacity. One can very realistically assume that he does not receive a Qualifying Offer.

Seth Griffith

Griffith is a little more interesting because he is good enough to be a replacement forward at the NHL level. Additionally, his history of AHL production can tempt many to think he has more to offer offensively in the NHL. Here are the possibilities I’m going to suggest for his contract:

Optimistic: 1-year AHL deal

Realistic: No Qualifying offer

Pessimistic: $625k x 1 year

The pessimistic option here, if the Leafs are set on holding on to Griffith, is a league minimum 1-year contract. I have a hard time believing that they’re interested in that given Babcock’s usage of him, and the wealth of right wingers the Leafs possess. Both realistically and optimistically, the Leafs will not offer a pro contract to Griffith. Optimistically, he’d come back on an AHL deal because the Marlies are going to be continually losing their best offensive weapons and Griffith is guaranteed to be offensively capable, and probably even dominant, in the AHL.

Tomorrow we’re going to take a look at one the Leafs’ hot prospects: Brendan Leipsic. So please keep an eye out for that!

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  • Kevin

    I can see the Leafs offering a 1-year NHL deal as long as they are not up against the maximum 50 contracts. He is a good depth player to have in case of injury or on the Marlies. If he’s claimed it’s not a big deal either.

  • Harte of a Lion

    The Leafs (Dubas) are building a development model similar to MLB. For this to succeed players will need to sign AHL deals rather than 2 way contracts as with the Leafs financial wealth, they are able to pay these players well to play for the Marlies. These players have other options such as hitting the open market with the hopes of sticking with another organization or playing over seas however with the Leafs, they have an organization that can help them continue on their developmental path due to the depth of the medical, training and development staff.
    Players such as Piccinich, Cameranesi, Froese and Holl see the future is making a commitment to the Leafs while the Leafs retain flexibility within the league mandated 50 SPC’s.
    The players also see that there are possibilities of moving up to the NHL like Froese did last season if there is an opening and they play well.
    Griffith should sign an AHL deal with the Marlies knowing that he could get a NHL deal in the event of injury. I would offer Kalinin an AHL deal as well as a club can never have too much depth at centre.

    • Kevin

      It makes sense if you can sign players to AHL contracts (even at a higher monetary value) and then signing them to NHL contracts later on in case of injury or if their play warrants. The only issue is that won’t work for all players, players with better statistics are likely to sign with another NHL team. That may end up being the case with Griffth while Kalinin would likely defect to the KHL.

  • Gary Empey

    With so many good prospects in the pipeline it is inevitable that we will lose some. When the prospects realize there is no room at the Inn, they will wish to go to other organizations where there is a better chance of cracking an NHL lineup.