Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Boyle, Cost vs. Reward

TORONTO, CANADA - MARCH 07: Brian Boyle /

The Toronto Maple Leafs said goodbye to Brian Boyle.

The Toronto Maple Leafs, Canada’s team had a quiet Free Agent Frenzy day on Canada’s 150th birthday. While it rained here, I spent the afternoon watching hockey analysts rate team’s moves before new players have had a chance to play a single shift for their new employers. July 1st may be the third most exciting postseason day for diehard hockey fans this year.

As I mentioned, there were no earth-shattering moves made by the team. The Leafs have been relatively quiet yet they arguably made some important organizational moves today. First and foremost on everyone’s mind, Brian Boyle is a New Jersey Devil. Acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning for Byron Froese and a 2017 second round pick at the deadline and Boyle immediately improved the Leafs fourth line. Fans I have spoken with seem disappointed that Boyle will not return.

Boyle signed a 2-year contract worth in excess of $5 million. That is about half a million more per year than the Leafs max for him. Boyle is a new daddy again and his first priority is his family’s future and while New Jersey doesn’t rate in America’s top ten living destinations, he now gets to hang with Taylor Hall. He is no Stamkos, but the kid is alright.

From Pretender to Contender (Almost)

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The Leafs brought in Boyle for one reason. To help the team make the postseason. The end!  The importance of that lesson, however, is not lost on Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello, and Mike Babcock. There are two types of hockey in the NHL and “playoff hockey” is a different animal.

For Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly and the rest of the young core, it was a necessary lesson.

Necessary for personal growth. For the team’s growth. The cost? A second round pick. The rewards? I believe it took a bunch of uber talented kids and turned them into NHL players. Was the cost worth the reward? Only time will tell but my #BeLeaf is YEAH! Damn straight.

Matt Hunwick out, Ron Hainsey in

The Leafs biggest move of the day came when they announced the signing of Stanley Cup champ Ron Hainsey. He may best be known for playing 891 NHL games without a playoff appearance. Traded to the Penguins at the deadline, that all changed quickly. Sixteen regular-season games and 25 playoff games later, Hainsey has his Cup. The Leafs signed him to a two-year $6 million deal. For those with memories of Stephane Robidas, Hainsey has played 82, 81, 81 and 72 games the past four seasons. He is also not recovering from two broken legs.

"Having to play against these forwards, I’m pretty familiar with the problems they can give you with their speed and their creativity. It’s an exciting group to be part of. As a defenceman, if you don’t want to be part of this group, you’d be nuts. – Ron Hainsey ("

While listening to him speak on TSN’s Free Agent Frenzy, his excitement is contagious. The 36-year-old Hainsey becomes the oldest member of the Maple Leafs. He’s 6’3 and 236lbs. While slowing down in his golden years is inevitable, the left-handed defender can still contribute. With the loss of Matt Hunwick, the team needed a responsible defenceman who can kill penalties while playing upwards of 20 minutes a night. Hainsey can play both sides and knows that Babcock has his preferences. I see him slotting in on the left side, third pairing with the ability to move up if necessary. While news on Roman Polak is sketchy at best, it will be no surprise should the Leafs re-up him. A one year deal seems reasonable should he recover from the broken leg suffered in the playoffs.

One Moore Time for Dominic

Dominic Moore, 36 is back. After playing for seven other teams, he has returned to the Leafs on a one-year $1 million deal. In his first go-around with the team, from 2007-2009, he played most of the two seasons, scoring 16 goals and 55 points before being flipped to the Sabres at the deadline. He had a career-high 41 points in 63 games as a Leaf in 2008-09.

"The way these guys play, these young players, the speed of the game, the way Toronto plays the game, I think that impresses everyone. That’s only obviously going to continue to improve. Looking at this team, and being able to be a part of it, and play a role on it is something that is extremely exciting to be able to do. – Dominic Moore ("

Moore is a good addition. Though he doesn’t have Boyle’s size, he drives possession and is well above average in face-offs. His career 54.2 winning percentage is slightly below his 2016-17 average of 54.6%. Moore started 60.5% dZS which was fourth best in the NHL for any centre who skated in over 60 games. Moore gives Babcock and the Leafs a dependable 4th line C option without breaking the bank. He kills penalties and can also do this…


Though fans seem disappointed the Maple Leafs did not do more, management has a plan. Lamoriello discussed the process of how the team must grow. The need for the players maturing while having support. It is clear that many NHL GM’s continue the “one more player puts us over the top” mindset. Thank goodness the Leafs management no longer play that game otherwise, the team ends up Clarksoned or Komasaricked.

Next: Free Agent Recap

We all yearn for a winner and we want it today. Right now. I mean, we have waited fifty years. Isn’t that long enough? While Shanahan runs the Leafs, we had all get used to the fact that it isn’t a sprint, and the Tortoise beats the Hare.