Toronto Maple Leafs Make Intriguing Lineup Decision

For the final game of the Toronto Maple Leafs scrimmage series, a notable bottom-6 lineup change was made placing Frederik Gauthier on the outside looking in.

In this situation, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe placed Pierre Engvall back on the third line with Kerfoot and Kapanen. While Nick Robertson moves to the fourth line with Spezza and Clifford.

This makes Gauthier the odd man out.

Toronto Maple Leafs Gearing Up for Games

Frederik Gauthier is a player who represents a typical NHL 4th line style player. Gauthier will slow the game down, won’t create anything offensively, has some defensive talent, and has a large frame of 6’5″ and 239 pounds.

Essentially when the Toronto Maple Leafs put Gauthier on the ice the goal is to kill time and give the star players time to rest while nothing significant happens on the ice (no goals either way).

To put it straight, Gauthier’s value is basically to be a place holder who does nothing but kills the clock.

Overall, Gautheirs’s on-ice value will not cause the Leafs to lose any games, and Gauthier is a better option than a lot of other NHL 4th line NHL players. But he won’t be tilting the game in his team’s favor either. He is just a big body who doesn’t do much to impact the game.

The issue with Gauthier being in the starting lineup is that the Leafs have other players who are able to make a more considerable impact.

In a matchup that is so tight against the Blue Jackets (both teams had the same amount of regular-season points), the difference between Gauthier in the lineup compared to a more effective player overall may be noteworthy to the outcome of the 5-game series.

Pierre Engvall and Frederik Gauthier

This season Pierre Engvall has brought more value to the Leafs than Gauthier. He provides a real transition threat with his speed and was very effective on the penalty kill this season.

Let’s take a look at some of the big picture numbers and how the two players stack up against each other.

According to the Charts from JFreshHockey if we compare even-strength offense, Engvall is close to an average or slightly below average offensive NHL player, while Gauthier is more easily represented as a below-average offensive player.

Engvall has shown some impressive offensive ability before, with the speed and his strong wrist shot you can see how he caught the forward on the backcheck, both defensemen and the goaltender off guard.

Gauthier did pot an impressive 7 goals this season for a career-high, but his speed and puck skills aren’t up to par with what Engvall has to offer.

Overall at even-strength defensively, Engvall surprisingly has a better impact than Gauthier. Compared to the average NHLer Engvall is slightly above average defensively, while compared to Leafs forwards, Engvall easily finds himself as among the best in this category.

For Gauthier, as a player who has been touted in the past as having a strong defensive impact, his weighted averages tend to contradict that. For a player who has little offensive ability, it can’t be good his defensive impact isn’t a clear cut positive one.

Neither player has played any minutes on the power play and I don’t expect them to moving forward. Both players seem to shine more on the defensive side of the puck.

On the penalty-kill, Gauthier played a limited amount of minutes this season and didn’t show any promise of being an effective penalty killer. The foot speed isn’t where you would want it to be and he isn’t a threat to score a shorthanded goal.

While Engvall, on the other hand, was extremely effective on the penalty kill at limiting dangerous chances.

He was in the 99th percentile of all NHL players for limiting powerplay chances against. Compared to other Leafs players Engvall performed by far the best out of any forward on the Leafs.

It is only a small sample of penalty kill but it makes sense as to why he has succeeded. He is a player who thinks defense first, and with his long reach and excellent stride, it’s a calling for success.

He even potted a spectacular shorthanded goal this season where he completely beat the Coyotes players with his speed.

Engvall had a rough ending to his season and really struggled to make an impact offensively after his hot start, but even if you didn’t notice him every night his defensive impact still made a difference.

While with Gauthier it’s every night where you don’t notice him, and his defensive impact isn’t strong enough to justify that.

Given Engvall’s touch of extra offensive ability and his superb penalty-killing ability, it makes him an easy choice to play in the starting lineup over Gauthier.

Next: Too Bad About Liljegren

The Toronto Maple Leafs must play Pierre Engval over Frederick Gauthier.

 

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