The offseason always brings a ton of crazy speculation, especially the first week or so after the Stanley Cup is awarded, as teams try to figure out their game plan going into the draft and free agency. And of course, fans will eat up every bit of speculation in anticipation of what their team should do. Lots of brainstorming happens, and with every great idea comes a few bad ones.
So, let’s look at some of the bad ideas that I’ve seen about who the Leafs should bring in, ideas that probably hurt the Leafs more than help them in the long run.
Gudas might be the one consistent I’ve seen on everybody’s wish list. And why wouldn’t he be? He’s been a consistent analytics darling throughout his career, is physical, is a defenseman, and shoots right. He sounds like someone who could help round out the top four for the Leafs.
Except for one problem:
While it’s just one season, he is also 30 years old and plays a style of play that doesn’t age well. It could be an anomaly, or it could be the start of his decline. With his projected contract from Evolving Hockey being 3 years at just over $3 million, that’s a serious commitment for someone who could be declining. It’s a very big risk to take, especially for a team in a cap crunch, so I would like no part in it please.
This is one that’s popped up since all of the Alan Walsh drama last month, and to be completely honest, I have no idea why people have jumped on this one as an option to replace Freddie. Amongst goalies with at least 1000 minutes played, Fleury ranks 48th in 5v5 save percentage with 91.52, 46th in dFSv% with -0.28, and 51st in GSAx with -9.45. He hasn’t been good, and probably wouldn’t win games on a team that isn’t as dominant as the Golden Knights have been the last couple years.
And that’s not even considering his contract. He has two years left on a $7 million AAV deal, and even if the Knights are offering to retain $3.5 million of that and willing to give up a 1st or 2nd, I still don’t know if I’d take it considering his numbers. That’s just too much money to offer someone who can’t play at the level of a starting goalie anymore, and if that’s the Leafs plan to replace Freddie, it won’t help their goaltending or their cap situation.
Okay, so I’m going to draw a line with this one. If he wants to come on a one year deal for less than $1 million, I am down to have Wayne Simmonds on this hockey team. However, I think there is still some concern with bringing him onboard, with a lot of that coming down to him not being a good hockey player anymore.
This is Wayne Simmonds’ RAPM for the last three seasons, providing very little positive impact over that time. In fact, the last time he had a positive impact on both ends of the ice, I was in high school (for reference, I just finished university this spring). While I don’t mind the idea of getting tougher, it does needs to be with players who will still provide an impact on the ice, and Simmonds does not provide that anymore.
This one is in a similar vein to Fleury. People have started tossing around the idea that the Leafs should acquire him as a replacement for Freddie. He’s a career .908 goalie, and everybody only seems interested in him because of his amazing season with a… .911 save percentage. Sure, he had a .941 in the playoffs, but that was in nine games, not nearly enough of a sample size to go off of.
Dive a bit deeper, and it doesn’t look much better. While he had a 6.9 GAR this season, he’s had a combined -1 GAR in the three season prior. In the last three years, he’s had a 5v5 save percentage of 91.17 (ranked 67th), a dFSv% of -0.77 (ranked 68th), and a -19.56 GSAx (ranked 70th). So not only is he outperformed by enough goalies to not be deemed a starter, he’s also outperformed by enough goalies to not be deemed a backup either.
I’m sure he’s not that bad, and his contract is cheap enough that it could make it worth the risk manageable in a flat cap world, but I still don’t know how I feel about putting my eggs in this basket to replace Freddie just because he looked good in front of a defense known for stifling their opponents and prevented high danger scoring chances.