Last summer the Toronto Maple Leafs traded away a beloved homegrown player.
The Toronto Maple Leafs sent Nazem Kadri, Calle Rosen and a 2020 3rd round pick to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for the Tyson Barrie and Alex Kerfoot, with half of Barrie’s salary retained.
The Leafs then signed Kerfoot to a four year $3.5 million contract extension which is already proving to be extremely team-friendly.
The Leafs never had any intention of signing Barrie to a massive extension, and he was always a rental. He was terrible under Babcock, and quite excellent under Keefe once Babcock was fired.
He quarterbacked the Leafs PP which was second in the NHL (by goals per minute) since Sheldon Keefe took over. That alone probably made him worth the $2.5 the Leafs were on the hook for.
Since Keefe took over, Barrie put up a 52% Corsi, a 53% expected goals rating, while finishing 4th in 5v5 scoring by defenseman, and 13th overall.
Barrie was also a paired with Morgan Rielly from a few games after Keefe was hired, to the time Rielly was injured. The Toronto Maple Leafs scored 59% of the actual goals and 54% of the expected goals when Rielly and Barrie were a pairing.
The Leafs may or may not get to finish this season, but either way, I think the stats are quite clear about one thing: As a rental, Tyson Barrie was a very smart addition.
But what about Alex Kerfoot?
Kerfoot vs Kadri
In 51 games, Kadri had 19 goals and 36 points. He got 25 5v5 points, and scored at a rate of 2.6 points/60 (first line scoring).
This is excellent production, and no one should expect anything less from Kadri, who has always been a great offensive producer.
In 65 games, Kerfoot scored nine goals and 28 points. 25 of those points were 5v5 and he scored a very respectable 1.8 points per 60. (For context Tavares scored 1.8 and Hyman scored 1.83 points per 60). Anything over 1.9 is first line territory.
The edge here is to Kadri, who scores way more on a per minute basis. (Though we should account for Kadri’s slightly higher on-ice shooting percentage).
But what about their overall impact on the team?
Kadri had a Corsi of 50.28%, 48% of shots and high-danger chances as well as 46% expected goals. Relative to his team, Kadri is a negative across the board.
So basically, Kadri helps his team offensively, but hurts them defensively. He essentially hurts his team when not scoring.
Kerfoot is also a positive relative to his teammates in all categories.
In overall impact to the team, Kerfoot – who is younger, cheaper, and takes way less penalties – has a much bigger positive impact on his team than Kadri does, despite Kadri scoring slightly more.
The reason that people aren’t really a huge fan of Kefoot is because he is “sneaky good” as in, he doesn’t score a lot, or make big plays. He just does all the little things right, and therefore has a very positive impact on games.
There is also the fact that Kadri’s gritty style makes him very popular, even when he’s not necessarily using that to help the team. (He’d still play in Toronto and the Leafs would have won at least one playoff series if it did).
On a team that has four to six elite scoring options, Kadri’s scoring isn’t missed. But the fact that, without the puck, Kerfoot is a way better player than Kadri is, gives the Toronto Maple Leafs the win in this trade.
Alex Kerfoot is a really underrated player, who should continue to thrive as a top six winger or a #3 centre on the Toronto Maple Leafs for years to come.