In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs News & Rumors, I’ll share action from yesterday’s busy day as the team worked to flesh out its roster – especially those depth players who will suit up when the team returns to play the 2020-21 season.
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There was no surprise that the team finally pulled the trigger in moving its young Swedish forward Andreas Johnsson to the New Jersey Devils in what was mostly a salary cap dump. That said, general manager Kyle Dubas got a serviceable player for Johnsson in a trade that worked out well for both teams.
Item One: Maple Leafs’ Move Andreas Johnsson (and Cap Hit) for Joey Anderson
As noted, later in the day yesterday, the Maple Leafs traded Johnsson to the Devils for Joey Anderson. Trading Johnsson was no surprise and hockey pundits believed the Maple Leafs needed to trade him for some time, mostly so the team could clear salary cap space in its effort to improve its defense.
Earlier this week, when Dubas signed both defenseman T.J. Brodie and rugged forward Wayne Simmonds, the need to clear up salary cap space became imminent. With the trade, the Maple Leafs indeed shed Johnsson’s $3.4 million cap hit over the next three seasons. It also helps that the Devils picked up Johnsson’s full contract. Just looking at the numbers, by moving his contract the Maple Leafs have now opened about $2.3 million in cap space.
The move was mostly a financial trade for the Maple Leafs, but Anderson is coming in return. It’s tough to say what the organization has in mind for him. Anderson’s a restricted free agent who just completed his entry-level contract. He could become a part of the team’s bottom six, and the 22-year-old has shown some skill by scoring four goals and two assists in 18 games last season.
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However, Anderson was up and down between New Jersey and the AHL’s Binghamton Devils over the last few seasons. He might face a similar plight this season within the Maple Leafs organization. There’s a deep group of forwards in Toronto and, unless Anderson shows really well during training camp, he’s likely to play top-line minutes with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
From the Devils’ perspective, Johnsson could be a great addition to the team. He scored 20 goals during the 2018-19 season and eight goals and 13 assists in 43 games in an injury-plagued 2019-20 season. The 25-year-old Johnsson will likely play on the Devils’ top six and on the power play. He could be an excellent trade for the Devils as the team begins its rebuild.
Item Two: Travis Boyd Signs a One-Year, $700,000 Deal with the Maple Leafs
Yesterday, Travis Boyd signed a one-year, $700,000 contract with the Maple Leafs. The 27-year-old center has been up and down between the Washington Capitals and their AHL affiliate the Hershey Bears for the past several seasons. During the 2019-20 season, he scored three goals and totaled 10 points in 24 games with the Capitals. However, during the 2018-19 season, he played almost exclusively in Washington and scored five goals and 15 assists in 53 games playing bottom-six minutes.
If he plays with the Maple Leafs, he’s slotted for the fourth line. However, he seems to have a bigger offensive upside than most fourth-liners. Boyd could also spend time with the Marlies.
Item Three: Zach Bogosian Signs with the Maple Leafs
The Maple Leafs signed their second right-side defenseman when they inked Zach Bogosian to a one-year contract at $1 million. The 30-year-old defenseman played last season with the Buffalo Sabres and then played 20 games as he helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup.
It was a crazy season for Bogosian, who moved from having his contract terminated by the Sabres to winning the Stanley Cup with the Lightning. He obviously believes in his abilities because the 12-year veteran defaulted on the $6 million left on his contract by refusing to report to the minors and having the Sabres suspend his contract.
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Bogosian landed well, although a little lighter in the wallet, after he was picked up by the Lightning. What his status is with the team and where he finds himself on the roster might be in question. He’s both experienced and physical. He’s a classic defensive defenseman.
Item Four: Funny How Hockey Comes Around
The Maple Leafs have now added two right-side defenders during free agency, after signing Brodie on Friday. By the way, the Maple Leafs just released this video from 18 years ago – it’s interesting how hockey comes around.
What’s Next with the Maple Leafs?
Right now, as I look at the team’s makeup and the moves Dubas made over the past few days that he didn’t have to, I’m wondering if head coach Sheldon Keefe might be planning to move Jason Spezza to the third line, perhaps with Nick Robertson and Alex Kerfoot.
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Or, perhaps the organization is considering moving Kerfoot in one more trade and sandwiching Robertson between Spezza and newly acquired Simmonds. Such a move might be interesting for young Robertson – he has the mentorship of Spezza and the protection of Simmonds as he learns the ropes in the NHL.
This is an interesting time of the year.