Apr 18, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; Dallas Stars right wing Alex Chiasson (12) battles for the puck with Anaheim Ducks center Daniel Winnik (34) during the third period in game two of the first round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. The Ducks won 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs 2014-15 Player Outlook: Daniel Winnik

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For the month of August, Editor In Leaf will take a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs roster, previewing what could happen in the 2014-15 NHL season. Next up is Daniel Winnik.

 

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ offseason of revamping their third and fourth forward lines continued late last month when the team signed Toronto native Daniel Winnik.

He joined a growing list of bottom-six-caliber forwards that includes Petri Kontiola, Leo Komarov, Mike Santorelli and David Booth.

Winnik inked a one-year contract worth $1.3 million. The 29-year-old tallied a career-high 30 points in 76 games last season with the Anaheim Ducks and had a plus-6 player rating.

His real value to the Leafs comes as a penalty killer though. Last year, Winnik ranked 16th among all NHL forwards in shorthanded time on ice. That led Ducks attackers and was more than any Leafs forward with the exception of Jay McClement—who is no longer with the team.

His 62 blocked shots also put him among the league’s top-20 forwards. The only Toronto forward ahead of him on that list? Nikolai Kulemin. Another player no longer with the club.

An experienced penalty killing specialist coming off a 30-point year offensively, who is willing to put his body on the line to block shots is a welcome addition for Leafs fans. The fact that his contract is team-friendly in both term and money makes it an even less risky proposition for Toronto.

 

Big Question: Where will Winnik play in 2014-15? With a plethora of bottom-six forwards at his disposal—particularly at centre—one has to wonder how head coach Randy Carlyle plans on using players like Winnik, Santorelli, Booth, Kontiola and Komarov.

Will Winnik be used on the third line or sparingly on the fourth in five-on-five play? Will he stick down the middle or shift to the wing? What role he’ll play for this team is the biggest lingering question with Winnik.

At the very least, it’s a storyline to watch for during the preseason.

 

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