In this post, I want to spend some time considering the two free-agent signings that new Toronto Maple Leafs’ general manager (GM) Brad Treliving made thus far. What are the risks and rewards of these signings? The jury will be out for a while as the team pulls their season together. That said, let’s take a quick first look.
The Maple Leafs, like any other team, face scrutiny over player signings. I suppose that everyone wanted new GM Treliving to come in and immediately be better than his predecessor Kyle Dubas. So far, it’s been a disappointment for those fans who had hoped for more.
Yesterday, the team made two notable additions to its roster. One is 36-year-old Ryan Reeves and the other is 30-year-old John Klingberg. In this post, I’ll look at these signings and explore what I think the reasoning behind them could be. Then, I’ll share what I think are the risks and rewards the signings bring.
Signing One: Enforcer Ryan Reeves
The “Enforcer Factor” is something that many Maple Leafs’ fans had hoped for. However, signing 36-year-old Ryan Reeves for a three-year term is a bit of a head-scratcher. I sort of get the AAV of $1.35 million; however, I don’t get the term for three years.
I also sort of get the rationale behind bringing in a 36-year-old pugilist. However, Reeves is not the fastest skater and his lack of skating ability is matched by his lack of scoring. Is this Wayne Simmonds all over again?
Yes, it’s important to know that Reeves’ primary role is to add toughness to the team. Many fans/critics believe the team was not tough enough to win the Stanley Cup. But a case could be made for its lack of secondary scoring. In this signing, Treliving put his eggs in the basket of toughness.
We’ll see. Reaves signing won’t add scoring. Zach Aston-Reese (with 10 goals) had twice as many goals as Reaves did last season. However, be sure that signing Reaves will add a different dimension to the Maple Leafs’ game. Will it work? Who knows?
Signing Two: Unlucky John Klingberg
The signing of offensive defenseman John Klingberg spells the end of hopes that the Maple Leafs would jump into the Erik Karlsson sweepstakes. Klingberg, at his best, is a lesser version of a great defenseman in Karlsson. And, that’s not a bad thing. Klingberg could add something the Maple Leafs need – secondary scoring.
I can see this signing. Last season, Klingberg gambled and lost. When he didn’t get the long-term contract he wanted after finishing seven seasons with the Dallas Stars, he signed a $7 million one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks. He wanted to be traded to a contender at the trade deadline.
That all worked out as expected. Klingberg went to the Minnesota Wild and played well in the postseason. However, the Wild were quickly eliminated. The problem was that his regular-season scoring with the Ducks was underwhelming. He put up his poorest statistical season ever.
Now Klingberg is betting again. His salary fell from $7 to $4.15 million. But he’s now signed on with the Maple Leafs hoping for the perfect storm where he can put up huge numbers, perhaps move to free agency, and sign for a boatload of cash for the 2024-25 season somewhere.
I don’t think Klingberg’s performance last season is a cause for concern. The Ducks were that bad. And, I do believe that the Maple Leafs might have identified a potential breakout by Klingberg. I believe he will both rebound and thrive in this different environment.
The Bottom Line
The truth is that I’m not in any position to assess whether these two signings are good ones or bad ones. My crystal ball doesn’t work that well. However, I can assess and understand the logic and can say whether it makes sense or not.
Reaves signing does not make logical sense, especially from the length of the term. Klingberg makes more sense.
How will these signings shape the Maple Leafs’ journey on the ice? That I can’t know.