In early December 2018, the Vancouver Canucks acquired left-winger Josh Leivo from the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Michael Carcone. The forward, while making an immediate impact after scoring four goals in his first nine games after arriving in Vancouver, may have only begun to scratch the surface when it comes to proving his value to this Canucks team.
Leivo’s Leafs Tenure
To get a feel for Leivo’s potential with the ‘Nucks, let’s look back at how he got here from his days with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite being traded by the club during the 2018-19 season, the 26-year-old winger proved to be a promising member of the Buds. Unfortunately, Leivo became a casualty at the hands of a stacked offensive core in front of him.
Often being scratched or buried on the fourth line with sub-par offensive linemates, Leivo still managed to find the back of the net four times in the early parts of last season with the Leafs and show flashes of offensive firepower. However, with little to no room for the winger to make the jump up in the lineup as youngsters Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen already filled out Toronto’s top nine forwards on the wing, Leivo was left as the odd man out. Recognizing this barricade, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas gave Leivo the chance he needed to revitalize his career by sending him over to the west coast.
Secondary Scoring Specialist
In December, after the trade, Leivo wasted no time acquainting himself with Canucks fans after scoring in his first game with the team and going on to pot four in his first nine. Beyond the first line, Leivo proved he was as good as any at generating offense and taking some of the load of the top guys. This is where his true value is and highlights an important role he can fill on the Canucks.
Leivo is the perfect option when it comes to secondary scoring for a Vancouver team that desperately needs it. Especially now that the team has rounded out their top-nine forward group nicely with the additions of Tanner Pearson at the trade deadline along with Micheal Ferland and J.T. Miller in the offseason.
Leivo could get an opportunity to suit up on a line with some combination of Bo Horvat, Pearson, Miller, Sven Baertschi and a few others. With Vancouver’s top three to nine forward sports up in the air, Leivo may find himself with a chance to play high up in the lineup with skilled linemates and tons of opportunity.
A Bargain of a Player
Here’s the aspect of Leivo that makes him the perfect secondary option upfront – he’s cheap. After recently re-signing to a one-year deal with the Canucks this offseason, his cap hit is now a measly $1.5 million. Quite the bargain for a guy who is no slouch when it comes to finding the back of the net and moving up and down the lineup with ease.
As with any successful team, it’s imperative to have cheaper, depth finds up front that can round out a team’s offense beyond first-line stars. While his deal only takes him to the end of next season, Leivo’s contract allows the team to create as much space as possible to ink current RFA star Brock Boeser. Now, with Leivo’s cap hit, he becomes a tiny sliver of the team’s cap and if he can crack – and flourish in – the team’s top-six core he becomes an absolute steal.
Next Steps for Leivo
With his low cap hit and promising opportunity this upcoming season in Vancouver, all that’s left for Leivo to solidify a spot in the team’s core is to prove he can produce. With a hopeful full 82-game campaign ahead of him and probable solid linemates, Leivo will have to show he can drive offense, pot some goals, and complement the top nine (and possibly top six) forwards perfectly.
It’s safe to say fans will keep a close eye on Leivo as he pushes to meet these goals and become a key puzzle piece on a Vancouver team that could really use more secondary scoring.