The moves the Toronto Maple Leafs have made this offseason can all be tied into one category, risk. Each signing carries some level of uncertainty.
Let’s first look at, arguably, the biggest one Kyle Dubas has made this offseason, bringing in goaltender Petr Mrazek. Yes, Mrazek has had some success with Carolina as a tandem goaltender. However, in at least the last couple of seasons, Mrazek has battled injuries, so his health, as part of the Leafs’ tandem, has to be a question.
Also, there’s no riskier signing, by the team so far, than that of Ondrej Kase. This is another one where health is a concern. Due to injury troubles, Kase was only able to skate in three of the Boston Bruins’ 56 games this past season. There’s no guarantee Kase will be healthy enough to suit up with the Leafs at all this season. And if he does, we don’t know if he’ll be able to stay healthy for a full 82 game regular season. Kase has shown he can score when healthy, specifically noting his 20-goal season in 2018. But at this time, this seems like a reclamation project.
Now, moving to Toronto’s signing of centre David Kampf, the risk here lies in the category of goal scoring. Kampf has been a pretty good defensive-minded centre for the Chicago Blackhawks in the last few years, which is what the Leafs need. But he’s never scored more than eight goals in a season and finished this last campaign with only a single goal. For a team which has struggled to score goals in clutch situations in the playoffs, this signing doesn’t really offer much help. Especially, since the team already has the bottom six players who’ve struggled to consistently score the last couple of seasons, like Ilya Mikheyev and Pierre Engvall. The Leafs are betting on Kampf finding more offense this coming season.
The Leafs also added 25-year-old winger Michael Bunting on free agency day. The risk this signing takes on is inexperience. Bunting has only played 26 games in the National Hockey League (NHL). There is just not a big enough sample size yet to know if he’ll be an effective full-time NHL player or to really evaluate what role he could play for the team going forward.
Lastly, by letting Zach Hyman walk away, the team is betting on players like Nick Ritchie and Kurtis Gabriel to fill the void, of a gritty or defensive-minded forward, to play with their star players. I’ll be curious to see if one or both of these players find chemistry with John Tavares or Auston Matthews, and if head coach Sheldon Keefe will rotate them on multiple lines as he did with Hyman.
It’s been an exciting offseason for the Leafs, in terms of the number of players added. But right now, the new-look roster offers more questions than answers.