Toronto Maple Leafs Continue Facelift Of Defense By Adding Brodie, Bogosian

This post was originally published on this site
Toronto Maple Leafs v Calgary Flames

CALGARY, ALBERTA – DECEMBER 12: TJ Brodie #7 of the Calgary Flames sits on the bench against the … [+] Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Saddledome on December 12, 2019 in Calgary, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered the offseason knowing what they are and what they are not.

They are a high-event, high-flying offensive machine. That’s why, last season, they ranked fourth in shot attempts per 60 (59.97) and fourth in expected goals per 60 (2.85), according to Natural Stat Trick.

They are not a lockdown, suffocating defensive bunch. That’s why, last season, they ranked 26th in goals allowed per 60 (3.13) and 18th in scoring chances allowed per 60 (27.27).

For a team with Stanley Cup aspirations — but zero playoff series wins since 2004 — that’s simply not good enough.

So, in the early days of the NHL’s bustling free agency, the Maple Leafs have addressed their issues head-on. That meant adding defensemen T.J. Brodie (four years, $20 million) and Zach Bogosian (one year, $1 million), two players who will help shape a new-look defensive group for Toronto next season.

Recommended For You

Kontinental Hockey League: Ak Bars Kazan vs Jokerit Helsinki

KAZAN, RUSSIA – OCTOBER 17, 2019: Jokerit Helsinki’s Mikko Lehtonen (front) and Ak Bars Kazan’s … [+] Stanislav Galiyev (back) in action in the 2019/20 KHL Regular Season ice hockey match between Ak Bars Kazan and Jokerit Helsinki at Tatneft Arena. Yegor Aleyev/TASS (Photo by Yegor AleyevTASS via Getty Images)

Yegor Aleyev/TASS

The facelift of the Maple Leafs’ defense corps actually started in May, when Toronto signed Mikko Lehtonen to a one-year deal. Lehtonen was named the KHL defenseman of the month three times last season and has 13 points in nine games this season.

Lehtonen can play on either the right or left side and will likely start on the third pairing (next to Travis Dermott). Brodie, meanwhile, should fill Tyson Barrie’s old role as the top right defenseman — and that’s a notable upgrade, at least on the defensive side of things.

Here’s a look at Brodie’s impact last season (the red and orange blotches indicate above-average shot attempts; the blue and purple blotches indicate below-average shot attempts).

T.J. Brodie isolated shot attempt/allowance summary.

via Micah Blake McCurdy (Hockey Viz)

The charts show that Brodie was slightly below average on the power play (though he won’t be tasked with quarterbacking Toronto’s top unit, anyway), but above average in all other facets. Tyson Barrie on the other hand …

Tyson Barrie isolated shot attempt/allowance summary.

via Micah Blake McCurdy (Hockey Viz)

He was almost as effective as Brodie in the offensive zone, but look at all that red around the net on defense. Yikes.

Barrie should, however, have a better season ahead. He admitted to reporters on Saturday that coming to Toronto and not initially becoming the top power play blue-liner made for a tough situation — one that inevitably spiraled. Sometimes a change of scenery presents its own challenges.

Barrie still possesses a 0.62 points per game rate for his career, versus 0.42 points per game for Brodie, but Brodie’s diligence in the d-zone is a more important trait for Toronto.

Bogosian doesn’t have as desirable of metrics as Brodie, with a career on-ice shot share below 50 percent. But he’s a veteran coming over on the cheap from the Stanley Cup-winning Lightning, and sometimes that’s worth taking a shot.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

EDMONTON, ALBERTA – SEPTEMBER 28: Zach Bogosian #24 of the Tampa Bay Lightning skates with the … [+] Stanley Cup following the series-winning victory over the Dallas Stars in Game Six of the 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Place on September 28, 2020 in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Getty Images

Consider that two of the Maple Leafs’ top-four defensemen by minutes played in 2019-20 are gone now (Barrie and Cody Ceci). Justin Holl, who was in that top-four as well, will now be battling for a job.

No, Toronto didn’t land the biggest fish on the defensemen market, Alex Pietrangelo (general manager Kyle Dubas joked with reporters that his bid for the perennial Norris contender was “not that close”).

But the additions of Brodie, Bogosian and Lehtonen — as well as the continued development of youngsters like Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren — will make the Maple Leafs’ back end look much different. And better.

Related Posts