Until yesterday, Noel Acciari played as a depth forward with the St. Louis Blues. All that changed when he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Ryan O’Reilly on Friday night.
As most Maple Leafs’ fans know by now, O’Reilly was the biggest fish in the trade. Going the other way were Adam Gaudette, Mikhail Abramov, and three draft picks. Those draft choices included a first-rounder in this summer’s 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
The Maple Leafs are wasting no time getting Acciari into the lineup. He’s set to make his debut for his new team tonight against the Montreal Canadiens. Thus far on the season, the 31-year-old forward scored 10 goals and added eight assists (for 18 points). He also collected 168 hits in 54 games this season. He’ll provide a physical presence to the Maple Leafs’ bottom six.
So Who Is Noel Acciari?
Acciari is an NHL player who was born in Rhode Island, the smallest of all states in the United States. He’s a 31-year-old undrafted natural center who was first signed in 2015 by the Boston Bruins after spending three seasons at Providence College, where he helped his team win two NCAA championships in 2015 and 2016.
After four seasons with the Bruins, Acciari was cut loose but signed on with the Florida Panthers on July 1, 2019. There he had his best season in the NHL, scoring 20 goals and adding seven assists. He never had another season similar to that, and after three more seasons in Florida this offseason he signed with the Blues for $1.25 million.
What Has Acciari Done This Season with the Blues?
This season with the Blues, Acciari scored his first goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Oct. 28. He recorded his first assist with the Blues on Oct. 31. Acciari was playing in a bottom-six role and was not an offensive threat. In his first 14 games this season, he scored only two goals and added an assist.
However, Acciari had a couple of two-goal games this season. One game was against the Anaheim Ducks in November and the other was against the New York Islanders in December.
Acciari scored the game-winning goal in a Blues’ 2-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Monday, Jan. 16, 2023. At that point, Acciari had begun to play a larger role in the absence of Ryan O’Reilly. He had produced five points in eight games in January.
Now, on the season, that’s where he stands. When given the chance to play more minutes, Acciari’s performance has been solid.
What Can the Maple Leafs Expect from Acciari?
Acciari is primarily known for his physical and defensive play. As a result, he’s often used as a penalty killer. With the Maple Leafs, expect him to provide forward depth – probably as a member of the team’s fourth line. The 31-year-old is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
Acciari is also on an expiring contract and will become a UFA after this season. He’ll provide some much-needed depth for the Maple Leafs as they look to make a deep playoff run.