The Toronto Maple Leafs, like every other team in the NHL this summer, are revamping their roster and have been forced to shake things up a little with the impending drop in the cap next season. Gone are Grabovski, MacArthur, Kostka and Hamilton, all to a certain extent victims of the cap reduction. Grabo replaced essentially by the younger Kadri and less expensive Bozak, MacArthur replaced by Clarkson given the impending line shakeup, Kostka replaced by T.J. Brennan while Hamilton left to continue his career with Dallas Eakins and the Edmonton Oilers organization.
Recently the Maple Leafs announced they had signed Trevor Smith, an Ottawa native and University of New Hampshire alumni who had been tearing up the AHL with the New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburg Penguins farm teams along with a handful of NHL games played in between. The 28 year old, 6’1 195lbs center was very likely signed to take the place of recently departed Marlies captain Ryan Hamilton, who followed former coach Dallas Eakins to Edmonton. He brings some much needed scoring ability and veteran leadership to the dressing room of an incredibly young squad where his Calder Cup winning experience with the 2012 Norfolk Admirals will most certainly be an asset. It would not surprise me in the least to also see him named the next captain of the organization as well.
Hockey’s Future described Smith as “…gifted with a great set of hands and terrific hockey sense. Based on his offensive production last season at the UNH, the Islanders see him as having great potential. While his speed is average, he’s quick to get a shot off. The Islanders scouts are particularly excited about his tenacity in going after the puck. It seems that wherever the puck is, Smith is there chasing after it.”
The knock against Smith from what I could find online was that his skating does not appear to possess a second gear (hopefully he can spend some time with Barb Underhill at the Mastercard Center) and his faceoff percentages appear to be below the fifty percent mark. A solid depth signing for the Maple Leafs in the off chance they need a call-up with experience and who will ultimately spend a fair amount of time guiding the young Marlies through the 2013-14 campaign. You never know though, given his age we may see him in his prime and he will hopefully be afforded an opportunity to impress at main camp.
Excuse the video quality but Smith definitely has some decent hands:
Troy Bodie was another Leafs signing recently announced, a 6’5” 226lbs Manitoba native who has bounced around a little in the American Hockey League these past few years and is most likely destined to bring some much needed grit and veteran leadership to the Marlies. New MLSE boss Tim Leiweke is actually Bodie’s father in law so you have to wonder a little about the signing but overall a grinder who will create room for teammates and stand up for them if necessary; will definitely be interesting to see where he fits in line wise.
Here is Bodie having an on ice disagreement with of all people Mark Fraser:
Finally, the Maple Leafs also announced the signing of T.J. Brennan a 24 year old former 2nd round pick in the 2007 entry draft by the Buffalo Sabers. This was one of the more intriguing signings as it appears that Brennan, a Willingboro, NJ native is still coming into his own after spending time with the Florida Panthers and Buffalo Sabers organizations. An offensive minded defenseman with upside given his age (24), he has most likely been brought on as a depth defenseman to replace Mike Kostka (who I wish the organization would have given more sheltered minutes to in his first NHL season) and is a similar player albeit at an earlier stage in his career.
The 6’1”, 214lbs lefty averaged a solid 15 goals and 20 assists in each of his seasons at the AHL level and put up reasonable points last season with the Florida Panthers although his -8 last season would be cause for some concern. Hockey’s Future has him pegged as an offensive defenseman with decent skating and a hard shot but developing a little on the slow side and who will need to pick it up a notch to make it to the NHL full time. Will definitely be interesting to watch his continued development here in Toronto.
Here is a really interesting video produced by Comcast about Brennan and something that is definitely worth the watch:
…and this video just makes me laugh:
Some solid depth signings all things considered. Kostka has been replaced with a player who could still be considered a prospect at only 24 years old, whom at the worst will make the Marlies that much better of a team. A sizeable grinder added to the organization who can chip in with some points and protect younger prospects if necessary and finally a vetern center who can provide leadership and depth at center should it be required during the year. The Marlies will be an interesting team to watch given the amount of vetern players that have departed the team but with this comes the opportunity for younger players in the organization to step up and show what they have. Anways some food for thought.