When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded away Nikita Zaitsev and Connor Brown, they misplaced two gamers that ranked one and 4, respectively, in ice time (TOI) on the penalty kill. In addition they misplaced the second-highest TOI participant when Ron Hainsey departed for his or her provincial rivals, the Ottawa Senators. That’s three of probably the most ceaselessly used gamers on the penalty kill, a devastating blow for a workforce that completed 17th in Corsi-against-per-60 (94.08) and 17th in penalty-kill share with 79.9%.
Is It Actually a Devastating Blow?
The fast reply is not any, it isn’t. Whereas he was shedding wage and time period, basic supervisor Kyle Dubas additionally took away two of the workforce’s worst penalty killers in Zaitsev and Hainsey. Brown is the exception of Mike Babcock’s skater deployment.
PlayerTOI (PK)relCA60Nikita Zaitsev230:37 10.56Ron Hainsey229:45 Three.25Zach Hyman161:3126.44Connor Brown160:28-Eight.7Kasperi Kapanen125:22-18.7Mitch Marner110:52-26.76Par Lindholm100:1018.96Morgan Rielly88:10-5.67Travis Dermott67:1621.45Jake Muzzin43:52-13.6Martin Marincin34:21-25.28Along with the lack of these three, Dubas additionally elected to let Par Lindholm discover a new house. This was one other transfer that may have an effect on how Babcock and his employees design the penalty kill. Lindholm was considered one of seven gamers to hit the 100-minute mark in penalty-kill time, however he struggled to maintain shot makes an attempt in opposition to down relative to his friends.
The Leafs’ GM, in eradicating hindering contracts, took away some Babcock’s favourite toys when he’s confronted with an obstacle. Gamers that battle for almost all of a recreation however work exceptionally arduous, are sometimes given the chance on the penalty kill. It’s a poor strategy to set your self up when a person down.
Toronto Maple Leafs centre Mitch Marner (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)
Two of the Leafs’ greatest (if not the very best) penalty killers final season have been Mitch Marner and Kasperi Kapanen. Babcock was snug sufficient to make them two of seven gamers he deployed for over 100 minutes, constructing a uncommon belief between coach and ability gamers when the opposition is up by a participant. The personnel subtractions ought to permit Kapanen and Marner to get elevated time on the penalty kill.
Do the New Additions Have an effect on the PK?
Tyson Barrie and Alexander Kerfoot performed 5:40 and Four:37, respectively, for the Colorado Avalanche, so there isn’t a lot to judge from 2018-19. At 5-v-5, each have been optimistic influence gamers and allowed much less shot makes an attempt in opposition to relative to their teammates. Good gamers don’t magically flip unhealthy when the workforce loses a participant on the ice. It’s a secure assumption that below-average gamers will stay beneath common because the variety of skaters on the ice modifications in favor of the opposition.
Jason Spezza didn’t harm the Dallas Stars whereas he was on the ice throughout the 2018-19 season, and he’s thought of a discount signing by Toronto. He performed even lower than Barrie and Kerfoot on the penalty kill (1:21) and he ought to be given the chance to middle the second PK unit.
Martin Marincin – one of the crucial disliked gamers by the vocal Leafs fanbase – is again on a one-year deal. Although he’s not a brand new addition, Marincin has worth on the penalty kill with Hainsey and Zaitsev out of the image. Regardless of his detractors, he has performed largely secure hockey for the Leafs up to now and 2018-19 was no totally different. With restricted utilization, he was one of many prime gamers on the workforce for shot makes an attempt in opposition to at 5-v-5.
Martin Marincin will return to the Leafs in 2019-20. (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)
Unsurprisingly, this carried over to his time on the penalty kill (34:21). Given the make-up of the Leafs’ defensive group, Marincin stands to get backside pairing minutes once more, which could possibly be supplemented by an uptick in Four-v-5, Three-v-Four, or Three-v-5 ice-time.
Cody Ceci is an unknown proper now. He didn’t have good numbers in Ottawa and it’s unsure how he’s going to suit into the Leafs’ lineup at this level.
How Might the New Penalty Kill Form Up?
Of the seven gamers who managed to hit the 100 TOI mark on the penalty kill, solely Marner, Kapanen and Hyman stay. The primary two ought to be locks on the wing, and it could be value transferring on from Zach Hyman as a daily with a person down. Auston Matthews and John Tavares noticed just below 18 minutes on the penalty kill (mixed) and will likely be slowed down with even-strength and power-play minutes. They want a break someday.
That leaves newcomers Kerfoot and Spezza to middle the penalty kill traces as each have confirmed that they’re able to being optimistic influence gamers. By including Kerfoot and Spezza to the penalty kill, the Leafs can exchange Brown and take away the struggling Hyman. They now inject two gamers up entrance who’re usually used as facilities, relatively than 4 gamers usually utilized as wingers.
Kerfoot-MarnerSpezza-KapanenThose 4 gamers are able to performing nicely and it spreads out Babcock’s favorites. On paper, it additionally offers the Leafs two higher models than that they had final season. Will that be the way it performs out on the ice? Nobody can confidently say so, however you possibly can confidently say that they received’t be worse than 17th within the league.
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin (John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports activities)
Rielly-Participant XMuzzin-Participant YWithout figuring out precisely how the Leafs’ top-six defenders will form up, I’m not going to guess on the pairings. The penalty kill is totally different from the facility play in that you just don’t must front-load your models. It’s extra helpful to unfold the wealth, and splitting Muzzin and Rielly permits the Leafs to do this if they’re much less assured in the remainder of the lineup. Their companions, ought to be two of the next three:
Marincin: If he’s a daily participant then he ought to see penalty-kill time. He’s an efficient participant within the function he’s given.
Barrie: He can transfer the puck, generate probabilities and, typically, have a optimistic influence on the ice. It’s affordable to assume that his forward-moving play could be helpful in all conditions.
Travis Dermott of the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photograph by Claus Andersen/Getty Pictures)
Dermott: When he comes again from harm it’s doubtless he finds himself in a steadily rising function. Babcock likes him and he’s a stable participant, regardless of struggling in his restricted penalty-kill time. The absence of sustaining widespread teammates, and TOI, doubtless contributed to Dermott’s poor exhibiting in comparison with his friends.
General PK Expectations for 2019-20
The Leafs are bringing again 4 excellent penalty killers from final season. There’ll at all times be gamers who’re comparatively worse than their teammates. That’s much less of a difficulty (however not totally devoid of criticism) if you’re a top-ten workforce in all or any in-game conditions. That’s the place they should get to.
The Leafs are in a greater place to succeed on the penalty kill in the present day than they have been on the conclusion of the 2019 playoffs–if solely as a result of Dubas, deliberately or unintentionally, took a web page from Billy Beane and eliminated beneath common gamers from his head coach’s arsenal.
*all stats by way of naturalstattrick.com