Toronto Maple Leafs: Domi, Klingberg Signings Are a Major Errors

Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Tyler Bertuzzi and in most ways this is a good thing.

Bertuzzi is signed at a decent price-point, he brings a style of play the Toronto Maple Leafs have been missing from the top of their lineup, and he is signed for only one year.

The only downside is that Bertuzzi appears to be a conspiracy nut who doesn’t believe in science, but as long as he’s not a distraction to his teammates, I don’t really see this being an issue.

The upside of Tyler Bertuzzi is a very good thing for the Leafs.

Unfortunately, you can’t say that about their other two big signings. (cap info from

Toronto Maple Leafs: Domi, Klingberg Signings Are a Major Errors

Both Max Domi and John Klingberg have NHL seasons where they were star players.

The problem is that for both players, that was years ago.  Domi is 28 and Klingberg is 30, and while both players have some upside, and both could out-perform their contracts, the Leafs made a very poor bet here.

The reason is opportunity cost.

The Leafs could very easily have spent the combined salary of Domi and Klingberg in a way that would likely help the team more.  Specifically, by trading futures for a star player who makes their combined salary, which would improve the odds that the money spent goes towards star players.

In the NHL, stars drive play and decide who wins or loses.  It is important to acquire stars, and it is equally important to save money on role players so that you can afford more stars.

In the NHL, about 90% of players are going to be worth between zero and one win.  Marginal gains do matter, but in a cap system you only have limited money so it makes sense to spend that money where it will have the highest impact.

Money spent on star players always has the highest impact.

Domi and Klingberg have a small bit of upside.  The most likely scenario is that neither player is a star and therefore could be replaced with member of the Toronto Marlies with no appreciable difference to the lineup.

The Leafs are betting that this isn’t the case.

They spent $7 million combined on Domi and Klingberg, however, had they made a trade for a star player and paid that player $6 million dollars and used the remainder to promote a prospect, they’d be making a much smarter bet.

That is because they would be trading for a player they more or less know is going to be a star.  There would also be the chance of a breakout with the prospect as well.

In their current situation, they are using star-level money to acquire two average players unlikely to be stars. Given how good the rest of the team is, odds are Domi and Klingberg are fine, and nothing special.   This is the kind of low-risk, no-reward bet teams make all the time.

For a team on the verge of winning, however,  it’s lunacy.  It’s just a waste of money with little chance of it making a difference.

There is a chance either or both of Domi and Klingberg have star seasons.  That would be excellent and I’m cheering for it.  The point I am making though, is that an established star player in their prime would have been a better bet.  Acquiring one wouldn’t have been that hard, since there are always star players moving teams every year.  You can argue whether this is a good use of future assets, but that’s a different conversation.

Next. Leafs Off-Season Verging on Brutal. dark

By this standard, the Toronto Maple Leafs have made a bad bet.