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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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!