3 Defenseman to Give the Toronto Maple Leafs Some Depth
Jacob Middleton is a 6’3, 219-pound left-shooting defenseman from Wainwright, Alberta. He was drafted in the 7th round of the 2014 NHL draft by the Los Angeles Kings with the 210th overall pick.
The 27-year-old defenseman is currently playing for the Minnesota Wild. He has two more years left on his contract, which carries a $2.45 million cap hit. It’s a cap hit that Treliving and the Leafs should be able to manage. Middleton can play a lot of minutes and could be a nice depth upgrade, but could be expensive for a bottom-pairing player.
His average ice time this season is 19:38 through five games. He has 12 blocked shots, three hits, two takeaways, two giveaways, and two assists this season. Last season, Middleton finished with three goals and 12 assists for 15 points in 79 games. He also registered 155 blocked shots, 115 hits, 18 takeaways, and 23 giveaways.
His team is also getting absolutely destroyed when he’s on the ice, so perhaps the Wild would be looking to move him, and if the Leafs think his struggles are systematic or something they could coach away, he size and style would make him an ideal fit. At worst, he’s still a lot better than Benoit. (Stats from hockey-reference.com)
His presence on the team might calm some nerves for players, coaches, and fans. During the 2022-23 NHL playoffs with Minnesota, Middleton’s shifts started in the defensive zone 60.5% of the time. This shows how much the Wild’s coaching staff trusted him defensively, and could partially explain his bad numbers.