In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ Quick Hits, I’ll take a look at three players – two of them currently on the Maple Leafs roster.
First, I’ll look at how good Joseph Woll might be. Can he carry the team as its starting goalie?
Second, I’ll look at the possibility that the Maple Leafs could go after strong defenseman Dmitri Orlov. It would be a tough get, but he could add to the Maple Leafs’ roster.
Third, I’ll look at a recent article by Cathy Squires that suggests that the talk about John Tavares not being valuable to the Maple Leafs is less than accurate. She writes a good article and it’s worth following the link and reading it in full.
Quick Hit One: Can Joseph Woll Carry the Team as a Starting Goalie?
In a recent article, Stephen Nixon wondered what might happen to the team if Joseph Woll were the team’s number-one goaltender. Last season, Woll showed well during the playoffs. He put up solid statistics and wasn’t the reason for the team’s losses. At 25, he’s developed into an NHL goalie and could be ready for a promotion.
Nixon notes that the only reason not to choose Woll would be if the team could trade for an established goalie like Connor Hellebuyck. That said, the combination of Woll’s play and his cost-effective contract makes him an attractive possibility. He has a low cap hit that would allow the Maple Leafs to invest in improving their defence. That would surround Woll with talented players.
While winning the Stanley Cup with Woll as the team’s number-one goalie might be a stretch, history has shown that lesser-known goalies can surprise and succeed in the playoffs. This season’s run to the Stanley Cup with Adin Hill as the Vegas Golden Knights’ goalie showed that one does not need Hellebuyck in the net.
Nixon suggests that the team should give Woll a chance to prove himself, considering the potential benefits of his contract and the opportunity to build a strong supporting cast around him.
Quick Hit Two: Should the Maple Leafs Go After Dmitri Orlov?
In a recent video by The Hockey Writers, Jim Parsons touched on the possibility that Dmitri Orlov could be signed as a potential free-agent target for the Maple Leafs. Orlov, a skilled defenseman, could bring defensive stability and offensive contributions to the team. His presence would bolster the Maple Leafs’ blue line and provide additional depth on defence.
Orlov would be an interesting signing. He’s a skilled defenseman, who possesses strong puck-moving abilities and offensive instincts. He can generate scoring opportunities from the back end and contribute to the team’s transition game. His solid defensive play and physicality make him reliable in his own zone, where he would provide stability and support to the defensive unit.
In addition, he won the Stanley Cup with the Washington Capitals. That experience could bring leadership and a winning mentality to the team. Overall, Orlov’s well-rounded skill set and experience would enhance the Maple Leafs’ defensive corps and bolster their overall performance on both ends of the ice. Can they pick him up? If so, he’d be a great addition.
Quick Hit Three: John Tavares Is Still Playing Well
In her article, Squires supports John Tavares as a valuable player for the Maple Leafs despite his criticisms. While he might not be the significant offence generator that Auston Matthews is, he still has a positive impact on the team’s offence. He’s exceptionally effective on the power play. In addition, as Squires shows, Tavares is not a dud on defence. He contributes.
In addition, Tavares’ offence is not declining, It has remained consistent with his time in Toronto. His skill set and play in the offensive zone have not diminished. Specifically, Tavares excels on the power play alongside Matthews.
Critics who suggest that the Maple Leafs should part ways with Tavares are overlooking the challenge of finding a 24-year-old player who could come close to replicating Tavares’ strengths. Additionally, Squires believes that such a replacement would likely have inferior defensive skills, poorer faceoff abilities, less physical play, and far less overall value to the team.
Squires’ point in her article was that every player has their strengths and weaknesses, and it’s unfair to while about Tavares’ defensive capabilities when his primary contribution is offensive. It’s like hiring a violinist to change tires and then being disappointed that they only played beautiful music. Tavares brings value to the team despite not excelling in every aspect of the game.