The Leafs organization have brought in a more veteran and physical presence to the roster. What skills set do each of TJ Brodie, Joe Thornton, Wayne Simmonds, and the rest accompany them to the roster?
It has been a quick and busy off-season for Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Kyle Dubas. It started with the departures of Kasperi Kapanen on Sept 2nd in a 6 player trade with the Leafs recouping a 1st round pick, next Leafs did not bring back Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Frederik Gauthier, and topped it off with another cap saving move by trading away Andreas Johnsson to the Devils just last week. Dubas then resigned Denis Malgin and Jason Spezza before bringing in TJ Brodie.
On October 9th, the first day of NHL free agency the Maple Leafs acquired big physical top-pairing defenceman, TJ Brodie. The 30-year-old native of nearby Chatham, Ontario was locked up to a 20 Million dollar contract for four years. The ten year NHL veteran has only known one home in the league having accumulated 48 goals and 266 points in his 635 games.
A stalwart on the back end, he has most recently been the top tandem for the Flames backing up the Calgary Captain being his Little John to Mark Giordano’s Robin Hood. Brodie’s job while being defensive-minded will be to eat up time, clean up the ice on the backend, and get the puck up to the Leafs top forwards.
“I just want to get the puck in the forwards’ hands as quick as I can,” TJ said, “and let them get to work with their skill.”
Brodie is what the Leafs needed instead of Barrie, a more defensive minded player who will support those around him.
Additionally on the first day of free agency, the Leafs brought in a power locomotive of aggression with Wayne Simmonds. The 32 year old, Scarborough native signed for 1.5 million for one year; nicknamed the “Wayne Train” was brought in to provide a physical presence, team oriented, do-anything-to-win mentality.
“I think I play the game the right way. I finish my checks. I battle hard on pucks. I never bail out and I’m always there for my teammates. I honestly think that’s what enticed the Maple Leafs and I know that part of my game would be beneficial.” Said Simmonds
The 11 year NHL veteran has piled up 251 goals, 499 points and 1,123 penalty minutes in 909 NHL games. Look for Simmonds to be there for his teammates much like Matt Martin was while still suppling some offensive to support the top forwards.
Out of the big three the Leafs have signed this off-season, one of them provides the most leadership of them all and it’s easy to tell with a Jumbo sized aging looking beard.
On October 16th GM Dubas inked Joe Thornton to a 700,000 dollar deal for one season (at the league minimum). The 41-year-old, 15-year veteran and native of St.Thomas, Ontario was bought in for offensive depth down the middle and leadership. Jumbo Joe has picked up 420 goals, 1089 assists with a total of 1509 points in 1636 games.
“I wanted a shot, you know? Believe it or not. I’ve been hunting this thing down for 22 years, so I wanted another shot at it,” said Thornton
Thornton is bringing a hunger to win, which should put the Leafs in the right frame of mind on top of his vision and leadership qualities.
Leafs additionally added Stanley Cup Winner Zack Bogosian, Hobby Baker winner Jimmy Vesey and veteran goaltender Aaron Dell. They’ll all supply depth the blue and white while being cost-effective.
The Leafs have focused on bringing in players with a passion to win games when they matter, most of whom have grew up in Leafs Nation so they know the passion that’s in grained in many here. As well as having those physical and leadership qualities while being salary-cap focused.
General Manager Kyle Dubas and his staff have specified a few needs and improved on exactly them, look for the buds to finally take those next steps on the goal of winning it all.
- Johnsson traded to Devils by Maple Leafs – Article by NHL.com
- Maple Leafs’ TJ Brodie on his new team, his new number and his game – Article by Sportsnet
- Simmonds excited to skate for hometown Maple Leafs – Article by Kristen Shilton from TSN.ca
- Maple Leafs, Joe Thornton agrees to one-year deal – Article by Jackie Spiegel from SportingNews.com