As I look at the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup for the upcoming season, one player who interests me is Dylan Gambrell. He was quick signing by new Maple Leafs general manager (GM) Brad Treliving. Although Gambrell comes on an inexpensive one-year contract at the NHL league minimum of $775,000, he looks to bolster the team’s forward group by adding depth and competition on the fourth line.

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Gambrell Fits the Maple Leafs’ Plans in a Couple of Ways

The Maple Leafs have emphasized a couple of things in building this coming season’s roster. First, the salary cap issues are everpresent. As a result, if the team can find an inexpensive option that’s nothing but good news. Second, Gambrell is a fiesty player, who brings grit and attitude to his on-ice game.

In this post, I’ll look at three reasons Gambrell might be a solid add to this Maple Leafs lineup.

Reason One: Gambrell Is a Valuable Depth Player

Gambrell’s signing fits the Maple Leafs’ philosophy of adding players with grit and attitude. He’s a depth player, but he perfectly fits that mold. He also brings versatility and experience to the team.

During his NHL career, he hasn’t set the stats sheet on fire with only 40 points in 233 games. However, Gambrell does score occasionally. And, that adds an extra dimension to his role. However, he’s also a solid penalty-killer. And, for the price, it’s not a bad thing to have a reliable player in that role. It makes him a valuable asset for the team.

Reason Two: Gambrell Fills a Bottom-Six If the Prospects Can’t

Gambrell’s presence also ties in with questions about the status of several young prospects within the organization. The team has a lineup of promising youngsters, including Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson, Pontus Holmberg, Bobby McMann, Alex Steeves, Nick Abruzzese, and even Semyon Der-Arguchintsev who are awaiting a chance to show they are ready for prime time action.

If these prospects can make the lineup and prove to be solid additions to the team’s roster, that’s all well-and-good. They could easily fill the Maple Leafs’ bottom-six roles inexpensively. However, if they can’t, in steps Gambrell.

He gives the team a proven and cost-effective solution to the lineup. Look for a number of prospects to showcase their skills and make the Maple Leafs’ roster. But, if they cannot, look for players such as Gambrell and Sam Lafferty to make significant impacts on the team’s season.

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Reason Three: Gambrell Allows Further Strategic Contract Decisions

The Maple Leafs have salary cap issues – go figure. However, by signing a number of one-year contracts the team is seeking to remain their competitiveness while, at the same time, navigate the salary cap issues.

Dylan Gambrell, now with the Maple Leafs

Gambrell’s addition aids that strategy. He allows the team to make short-term commitments while continuing to explore long-term roster solutions. This approach helps the team adapt to changing circumstances and (as they do so) maximize their roster potential.

The Bottom Line

Gambrell’s signing was a strategic move for the Maple Leafs as they prepare for their upcoming season. He adds valuable depth to the forward group, and his experience and versatility make him an helpful piece of the puzzle.

Gambrell embodies the Maple Leafs’ roster strategy. Moreover, he allows the team to test how they will include their young prospects in the mix – or not, if they cannot make the grade this season. In short, Gambrell creates possibilities for the team as it works to shape its future.

It will be fun to see how the Maple Leafs utilize him and what potential impact he might have on the ice.


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