Maple Leafs Spotlight: Alexander Kerfoot + Neuvirth PTO
With just a week and a half left in July it won’t be long until Maple Leafs prospects hit the ice and get the grind started. There will be a handful of new faces in the Leafs lineup this season; a few UFA additions and a couple players through trade acquisitions.
The biggest move for the Leafs this offseason was certainly the Nazem Kadri trade to acquire Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot.
Most fans have a pretty decent idea of what Tyson Barrie will bring to the table. He’s an offensive defenseman who is excellent on the power play and will add some quality experience to the team. He is good at passing the puck out of his zone and makes quick and quality decisions when it comes to exiting or entering the zone. An excellent piece for the Leafs to add to their defensive core in what should be a hell of a season for the Buds.
I was certainly pumped when I saw Barrie’s name in the trade for Kadri. But what I was astonished with was the piece that Dubas added with him…Kerfoot.
Alexander Kerfoot is not only a smart hockey player, he’s got an education. After four years of Havard hockey (age 19-22) Kerfoot joined the Colorado Avalache for his rookie season. With back to back 40+ point seasons with Colorado, the Leafs have scooped up the youngster (24) and signed him for four years (3.5 million cap hit). The same kind of money they were able to sign both Kapanen and Johnsson for, the difference is; Kerfoot is a center. Hopefully there are no injuries to either of the centers above Alex on the depth chart, but if so he will be able to fill the void and Jason Spezza can take over the third line duties.
The Leafs center depth is as good as it was with Kadri in the lineup.
I’ve always been a Kadri supporter, right up until he was traded.
That’s just how confident I am that Kerfoot will fill the void. Of course Kadri is/was a more physical player and would spark them team up with some of his antics and big hits. But at the end of the day, he was hurting them in the playoffs by not being in the lineup; simple as that. Kerfoot should have no problems keeping at his 40+ points pace playing alongside some highly skilled players throughout the Leafs bolstering lineup.
Kerfoot has scored 3:1 goals while playing at even strength versus power play. Assists he is pretty much even contributing just as many on the power play as he is even strength. This is note worthy showing that Kerfoot could easily be a 20+ goal scorer if given more opportunity with the man advantage. Alex averages 13:30-15 minutes a game throughout his career; I think he will see more ice time with Babcock and his new line mates. We all know how Babs loves to get all his lines rolling and have everyone contributing.
Kerfoot played majority of his even strength ice time with J.T. Compher and Colin Wilson. His other linemates were Carl Soderberg and Gabriel Bourque. Obviously he didn’t get much of a taste with the big boys (MacKinnon, Landeskog, Rantanen). Understandable, they were dominant! What stands out is the play of the other players when Kerfoot played with them; all of their stats went up and Kerfoot’s happen to struggle a bit. Simply put; he was carrying these lines.
When Kerfoot was on the ice Colorado saw the biggest drop in shot attempts and a high success rate in give-aways-per-game. We all know Dubas and his henchmen are all about corsi and other such ways to determine a player’s success on the ice. Where I don’t full believe in all of these methods, I do believe there is some value. It’s like looking at something at another angle, that’s how I use it; like a tool.
Trevor Moore - Alexander Kerfoot - Kasperi Kapanen
I’d also imagine Kerfoot will be centering the second power play unit as well. It could be his first 50+ point season in the NHL; another win for Dubas and his Maple Leafs.
Leafs have signed goaltender Michael Neuvirth on a PTO.
Thanks for reading, have a great week.