So, The Leafs Want To Get Meaner Eh?

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A few options hitting the UFA market on Saturday that will help accomplish that feat include:

Ryan Reaves

I can’t say I’m all that enthused about the thought of siging Reaves to play for the Leafs. Yes, he’s big and, for my money, he’s the best fighter in the NHL, but that’s really all that he does bring. He doesn’t fight nearly as much as he used to, mostly because there aren’t enough heavy weights in his class left in the NHL to challenge him. I do wonder if part of it has to do with the fact that he’s 36, which is ancient in professional athlete years. The body will break down after a while, especially if you allow other people to punch it regularly and even moreso if those people are trained to punch. This wouldn’t be the worst thing for the 4th line, but I’m skeptical.

Austin Watson

This is closer to what I’d like to see, as Watson skates well for a 6’4″ pugilist. He played just over 2 minutes a night shorthanded for the Senators last season as well, which tells you that he isn’t lost in the defensive end. If you’re going to bring back Kampf and feed him tough matchup, you need defensively responsible wingers with him to help and if they develop chemistry you could pair them together on the PK, while also playing them together at 5v5.

Miles Wood

Less of a goon than the previous two players, but you can’t have too many goons anyway. Instead, Wood can play on a 3rd line, bring energy and grit to a line and chip in with a bit of offense. The price tag may come in too high, considering this free agent class is poor, but if the price is right then Wood would be a terrific addition to the team.

Scott Mayfield

I think it’s a good thing that I’m not the guy signing free agents this year, because I’d throw caution to the wind and offer Mayfield whatever it would take to sign on with the Maple Leafs on Saturday. Among the entire UFA class he is 3rd in TOI/GP, at just over 21 minutes a night, which includes nearly 3 minutes a night shorthanded. In his first full NHL season he fought 4 times, but has since toned that down to a healthier 1 or 2 fights per season. That, combined with over 100 hits and 168 blocked shots last season puts the 6’5″ right defender in the category of gritty customer. He’d play a lot of minutes with Morgan Rielly, which is exactly the type of situation that both defenders would thrive in.

Brian Dumoulin

Again, less of a fighter and more of a stay-at-home defender, Dumoulin throws a lot of hits and blocks a lot of shots. At 6’4″ 207lbs, Dumoulin would certainly help to make the blueline bigger, which is something Brad Treliving has said he would like to see in Toronto.

Radko Gudas

First, write Joseph Woll an apology letter for being a piece of shit and yelling in his face the way you did and …… actually I’d still pass. I hope you stub your toe, Radko!!

Tyler Bertuzzi

Like Mayfield, Bertuzzi is high on my list of guys that I’d like to see on the Toronto Maple Leafs. The only problem is that they might be able to afford one, but definitely not both. Considering how poor and small and weak and ridiculous the blueline is here, you know which way I’d go. If they miss on Mayfield, then Tyler would be a great consolation prize.

Carson Soucy

I know some have Soucy higher on their list than I do and they’re quite possibly right to do so. He hits, he blocks shots, he plays the PK, he’ll fight at times and he’s still just 28 years old….. really, theres nothing to hate about Soucy.

Garnet Hathaway

Hathaway isn’t far from Watson, as both are most known for their gritty play, but can also play a role as a penalty killer. While Hathaway plays less time shorthanded than Watson does, he produces more offense. Very interesting player if they can manage to sign him.

These are just some of the names that are still available at the moment. I have to hope that the Leafs finally understand that team toughness doesn’t come from signing a single player. Just adding a player like Hathaway or Reaves, for example, isn’t the solution. Instead, they need to attempt to add 3-4 of these players. For example, if they could add Mayfield to play in the top 4, Hathaway for 4th line RW, Wood for middle 6 duties and retain Schenn as a depth defender, it would go a long way towards icing a team that can push back when the going gets tough. Even then, I believe a gritty player in the top 6 forward unit would be necessary as well.