What Does The Acquisition of Dave Steckel Tell Us?

Source: Wikimedia Commons

First of all, let me start by saying that I could not be a bigger fan of this last-minute pickup. Steckel led all NHL centers in faceoff percentage last season, winning 62.3% of his faceoffs. The 29-year old is a literal monster in his own end, and his primary function is keeping other team’s scorers in check. He is a bona fide penalty kill specialist, something the Leafs haven’t had in awhile. He’ll likely take the job on the 3rd line while Matthew Lombardi gets up to speed, Tim Connolly heals up from a not-so-surprising “upper body injury,” and Tyler Bozak reprises his role on the top line in the meantime.

At 6’6, 219 lbs, Steckel will be one of the biggest guys on the ice just about every night, and gives the Leafs some much, much-needed size down the middle. He’s a unique brand of the 3rd and 4th liners that the Leafs already have so many of, and leads one to wonder exactly what Burke has planned. With an excess of both defenseman and serviceable forwards, it’s difficult not to expect another, larger trade in the near future.

There’s already been talk that Carl Gunnarsson’s ascension to the role of top pairing and Dion Phaneuf’s partner is nothing more than a showcasing of his talent level in hopes of garnering a larger haul in a trade. Throw in one of the Leafs’ numerous young utility forwards, and you’re probably looking at a pretty decent return. 

It also tells us that Burke was less than satisfied with the way he’d prepared this team for 2011-12. There’ s no question Ron Wilson is on the hot seat right now, and a poor start would tie Burke’s hands and pretty much force him to sack his long-time friend and colleague. Adding an established defensive forward and faceoff specialist like Steckel should help lessen the pressure during any type of re-adjustment from James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson, while hopefully offering a bit of a defensive cushion should the offense struggle out of the gate.

There’s no question it’s a solid addition, especially since Burke only had to sacrifice a 4th round pick to get the big center. Sometimes, it’s the seemingly small and insignificant moves that end up reaping the biggest rewards because of the ramifications they cause up and down the depth chart. So, what do you think of the addition of Dave Steckel?

Topics: Brian Burke, Carl Gunnarsson, David Steckel, James Reimer, Jonas Gustavsson, Matthew Lombardi, Ron Wilson, Tim Connolly, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tyler Bozak

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  • thorendun

    Two points about the Steckel acquisition:

    1) I thought we had a Steckel-like player in Mike Zigomanis. What happened to using him? I recall a Coach’s Corner last year where Don Cherry pointed out how useful a faceoff specialist like Zigomanis would be to Toronto’s penalty kill. November 27th, 2010. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQT3w6w8-og (relevant segment is about 2 minutes in).

    2) I like Steckel, and he probably has more PK experience than Ziggy, so I’m not questioning the trade. His play in the season opener was terrific. But I do wonder where this will leave Philippe Dupuis, and I’m concerned he will get bumped out of the lineup. I think they should sit Rosehill, and use Brown, Dupuis and Steckel on the fourth line, but the Leafs brass seem adamant about keeping an enforcer on that line. Waste of a slot, in my opinion.

  • thorendun

    Two points about the Steckel acquisition:

    1) I thought we had a Steckel-like player in Mike Zigomanis. What happened to using him? I recall a Coach’s Corner last year where Don Cherry pointed out how useful a faceoff specialist like Zigomanis would be to Toronto’s penalty kill. November 27th, 2010. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQT3w6w8-og (relevant segment is about 2 minutes in).

    2) I like Steckel, and he probably has more PK experience than Ziggy, so I’m not questioning the trade. His play in the season opener was terrific. But I do wonder where this will leave Philippe Dupuis, and I’m concerned he will get bumped out of the lineup. I think they should sit Rosehill, and use Brown, Dupuis and Steckel on the fourth line, but the Leafs brass seem adamant about keeping an enforcer on that line. Waste of a slot, in my opinion.

  • AdeelAhmad

    I’m a huge fan of the pick-up. I think that Burke is a little premature in his claim that “once you have a competitive roster, you are looking for bit pieces…” because it’s impossible to claim that this years leafs actually boast a competitive roster. I do, however, think this move makes them much more competitive.

    I think as in soccer – possession is a critical part of hockey and the value of a face-off specialist is SERIOUSLY underrated. The more time you have the puck, the less time the competition does and directly equates to more scoring chances for you and less for them. It is such a simple but undeniably correct strategy. I know Steckel doesn’t do much else but HE DOESN’T NEED TO. He can hop over the boards as soon as he wins the draw and be replaced by a better scorer or whatever they need. I can’t believe that such a low monetary value (1.1 mill?) is added to a guy who has Steckel’s unique ability. He’s the best in the league at it. I can see why he was on the radar for 18 months. Althogh I consider Ziggy to be in the same realm as Steckel – he’s not THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE. Think about it – THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE.

    Great move by Burke.

  • AdeelAhmad

    I’m a huge fan of the pick-up. I think that Burke is a little premature in his claim that “once you have a competitive roster, you are looking for bit pieces…” because it’s impossible to claim that this years leafs actually boast a competitive roster. I do, however, think this move makes them much more competitive.

    I think as in soccer – possession is a critical part of hockey and the value of a face-off specialist is SERIOUSLY underrated. The more time you have the puck, the less time the competition does and directly equates to more scoring chances for you and less for them. It is such a simple but undeniably correct strategy. I know Steckel doesn’t do much else but HE DOESN’T NEED TO. He can hop over the boards as soon as he wins the draw and be replaced by a better scorer or whatever they need. I can’t believe that such a low monetary value (1.1 mill?) is added to a guy who has Steckel’s unique ability. He’s the best in the league at it. I can see why he was on the radar for 18 months. Althogh I consider Ziggy to be in the same realm as Steckel – he’s not THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE. Think about it – THE BEST IN THE LEAGUE.

    Great move by Burke.

  • editorinleaf

    @thorendun I don’t see Rosehill as quite as big a waste of space as Colton Orr, but I get your point. What I will be interested to see is how Wilson handles the line juggling. When MacArthur comes back, Frattin gets bumped down, maybe all the way to the Marlies, though that will be determined by his play. When Connolly’s healthy, that bumps Bozak and Lombardi down. Should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  • editorinleaf

    @thorendun I don’t see Rosehill as quite as big a waste of space as Colton Orr, but I get your point. What I will be interested to see is how Wilson handles the line juggling. When MacArthur comes back, Frattin gets bumped down, maybe all the way to the Marlies, though that will be determined by his play. When Connolly’s healthy, that bumps Bozak and Lombardi down. Should be interesting to see how it all plays out.

  • editorinleaf

    @AdeelAhmad Exactly. Plus, his size adds even more to his value. The Leafs don’t exactly have the biggest forwards in the league, but I wouldn’t want him chasing me down on the forecheck with Colby Armstrong or Mike Brown close behind

  • editorinleaf

    @AdeelAhmad Exactly. Plus, his size adds even more to his value. The Leafs don’t exactly have the biggest forwards in the league, but I wouldn’t want him chasing me down on the forecheck with Colby Armstrong or Mike Brown close behind

  • thorendun

    @AdeelAhmad Steckel is a better faceoff man than Ziggy, no question. I’m just surprised that everyone is acting as though the value of having a go-to faceoff guy is some sort of tremendous revelation. It shouldn’t be. But evidently it is to Leafs management, who could have employed Zigomanis in the same role for 82 games last season, instead of only 8.

  • thorendun

    @AdeelAhmad Steckel is a better faceoff man than Ziggy, no question. I’m just surprised that everyone is acting as though the value of having a go-to faceoff guy is some sort of tremendous revelation. It shouldn’t be. But evidently it is to Leafs management, who could have employed Zigomanis in the same role for 82 games last season, instead of only 8.

  • thorendun

    @editorinleaf I agree, re: Rosehill vs. Orr.

    What I would like to see when MacArthur and Connolly return is:

    Lupul – Connolly – Kessel

    Kulemin – Grabovski – MacArthur

    Lombardi – Bozak – Armstrong

    Brown – Dupuis/Steckel – Steckel/Dupuis

    I’m not absolutely enamoured with Dupuis, but better another seasoned penalty-killer on that line than an enforcer.

    I’m disappointed that there isn’t any room in this arrangement for Frattin or Kadri, but they’re still young, and can always be called up in the event of an injury or a suspension.

  • thorendun

    @editorinleaf I agree, re: Rosehill vs. Orr.

    What I would like to see when MacArthur and Connolly return is:

    Lupul – Connolly – Kessel

    Kulemin – Grabovski – MacArthur

    Lombardi – Bozak – Armstrong

    Brown – Dupuis/Steckel – Steckel/Dupuis

    I’m not absolutely enamoured with Dupuis, but better another seasoned penalty-killer on that line than an enforcer.

    I’m disappointed that there isn’t any room in this arrangement for Frattin or Kadri, but they’re still young, and can always be called up in the event of an injury or a suspension.

  • thorendun

    Another interesting option could be:

    Frattin/Kadri – Bozak – Armstrong

    Brown – Lombardi – Steckel

    for the third and fourth lines, in order to make room for a rookie.

  • thorendun

    Another interesting option could be:

    Frattin/Kadri – Bozak – Armstrong

    Brown – Lombardi – Steckel

    for the third and fourth lines, in order to make room for a rookie.

  • http://www.rsacourseonline.com.au/rsa-certificate RSA Course

    I think there is no question Ron Wilson is on the hot seat right now, and a poor start would tie Burke’s hands and pretty much force him to sack his long-time friend and colleague.

  • http://www.rsacourseonline.com.au/rsa-certificate RSA Course

    I think there is no question Ron Wilson is on the hot seat right now, and a poor start would tie Burke’s hands and pretty much force him to sack his long-time friend and colleague.

    • Myles Robinson

      Gotta think the Leafs having one of the league’s best records in the opening month has turned the heat down on Wilson’s seat. But the special teams need to be fixed.

  • http://www.livefyre.com/ jasonwonline20

    I do however agree that New Jersey needs a goalie, can’t afford parise, and we can help them with both of those. First we need to dump komisarek on a team other than New Jersey, and then package two good forwards and a prospect with scrivens for Parise … Or just wait for his free agency next summer, because I’m pretty happy with our line up.

  • http://www.livefyre.com/ jasonwonline20

    I do however agree that New Jersey needs a goalie, can’t afford parise, and we can help them with both of those. First we need to dump komisarek on a team other than New Jersey, and then package two good forwards and a prospect with scrivens for Parise … Or just wait for his free agency next summer, because I’m pretty happy with our line up.