Toronto Maple Leafs 2020-21 Forwards
Hyman – Matthews – Marner
Galchenyuk – Tavares – Nylander
Engvall – Kerfoot – Mikheyev
Thornton – Spezza – Simmonds
Toronto Maple Leafs 2021-22 Forwards
Bunting – Matthews – Marner
Kerfoot – Tavares – Nylander
Mikheyev – Kampf – Kase
Engvall – Spezza – Simmonds
The Toronto Maple Leafs forward group has undergone a few more changes than their goaltending and defense. Zach Hyman, Alex Galchenyuk and Joe Thorton have been replaced by Michael Bunting, David Kampf and Ondrej Kase.
Michael Bunting vs Zach Hyman on the Toronto Maple Leafs
Hyman versus Bunting has been a debated topic for Leafs fans since the two players signed with new teams during the offseason. Hyman was a fan favourite during his six seasons in Toronto and many fans (including myself) were heart-broken when he signed with the Edmonton Oilers.
Last season with the Leafs, Hyman had 15 goals and 33 points in 43 games. This season Bunting has 13 goals and 29 points in 42 games. Hyman has the edge (until you adjust for salary) but they’re pretty comparable. Both players started lower in the line-up and moved up as the season progressed.
A big difference though is that Hyman had spent six seasons with the team, knew his teammates well and grew into that position. Bunting has made an impact on the top line right away despite his classification as a NHL rookie. Bunting is still progressing and will have more chemistry with Matthews and Marner the longer he plays with them.
Honestly, Michael Bunting has grown into one of my favourite Toronto Maple Leafs. I love how he draws penalties and gets under the skin of his opponents. He’s always around the net, he gives his all and the look on his face when he scores shows that he loves being with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
There’s also the huge difference in cap hit between the two players as well with Hyman making $5.5 million and Bunting taking $950,000. Hyman has 13 goals and 26 points in 36 games so far this season.
Ondrej Kase vs Alex Galchenyuk on the Toronto Maple Leafs
Galchenyuk versus Kase might not be as obvious a match-up, but their are some similarities. They’re both players the Toronto Maple Leafs took a chance on. Galchenyuk was given more opportunity to play in the top-six though while Kase has been a third line staple except for when Mitch Marner was out with injury.
Last season, Galchenyuk had four goals and 12 points in 26 games with the Leafs (.46 pts/g). Kase has eight goals and 17 points in 34 games this season (.5 pts/g). Kase also kills penalties.
Alex Kerfoot if having a career year after taking Galchenyuk’s spot on the second line and Kase has helped bring the stability, trust and secondary scoring to the third line that the Leafs were lacking last season.
Alex Galchenyuk has two goals and seven points in 25 games with the Arizona Coyotes this season. Galchenyuk carries a $750,000 cap hit. Kase makes $1.25 million.
David Kampf vs Joe Thornton on the Toronto Maple Leafs
Thornton vs Kampf is a tough comparison. Both players bring intangibles. Thornton brought leadership and veteran experience. David Kampf brings stability and defensive skill to the third line and is a major factor in the Leafs decision to move Kerfoot up to the second line wing.
Last season, Thornton had five goals and 20 points in 44 games with the Leafs. Kampf has five goals and 14 points in 42 games this season.
They’re equal in goals in this comparison, and Thornton doesn’t have much of an edge in points especially when you consider the fact that he started last season on the Leafs’ top line and eventually worked his way down to the fourth line.
Thornton has two goals and six points in 24 games with the Florida Panthers this season. Thornton is making $750,000 and Kampf carries a cap hit of $1.5 million. In my opinion, Kampf’s skill set is worth the cost of two Joe Thorntons.
Though it wasn’t obvious at the time, in retrospect, the Toronto Maple Leafs significantly improved their roster over the offseason in my opinion. I’m excited to see what the team can bring to the second half of the season and what moves are yet to come ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline.