How Has Ilya Lyubushkin Performed Since Being Traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens
Toronto Maple Leafs v Montreal Canadiens / Minas Panagiotakis/GettyImages

The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to add any impact players at the trade deadline, though they did add two new members to their blue-line.

You can debate whether the Toronto Maple Leafs should have provided more puck-moving help to their forwards from the back-end (and I have) but what they did add was some meaness that should make them harder to play against.

But whether that has an actual, tangible, real-world effect is up for debate. No doubt that making it hard to get near your team's goalie is a good thing, but no matter what, when you try to quantify it against a player who isn't physical but makes it so that the team plays less defense overall, the physical player loses every time.

In baseball when you bunt and steal, it looks like you're trying to harder to win. Then computers came along and told us that those things didn't actually have any effect, and may actually hurt more than they help. Hockey may be experiencing a similar situation with physical play, but the Leafs, for better or for worse, have gone old-school with their blue-line.

Let's see how it's been working out for them!

Statistical Analysis of the New Toronto Maple Leafs Defensemen

Overall, Lyubushkin has great stats since coming to the Leafs. One worry about a player like Lyubushkin is that while he can defend well when needed, he can also make it so you have to play more in your end when he's on the ice.

This is sort of the case. Although Rielly's Expected Goals numbers are better with Lyubushkin than without him, his Corsi numbers (puck-possession) are much worse when he plays with Lyubushkin (52% with him, 58% without him) and Corsi numbers, which are just shot-attempt differential, build the biggest sample size the quickest out of all relevant statistics, so perhaps when the overall sample is bigger, this is an indication that his numbers overall won't look so good. (stats

I don't mean to discount his success, only to caution that its an eight game sample and he gets a fair amount of ice-time with the team's best players.

The Leafs, in eight games, have gotten 52% puck-possession with Lyubushkin on the ice. They have had 55% of the shots and 54% of the scoring chances and 69% of the dangerous chances. The Leafs expected goals with him on the ice is an impressive 61%. They are winning 4-3 in actual goals when he plays.

Lyubushkin, though partnered with Morgan Rielly often, has essentially been the Leafs #6 in the games he has played, averaging 14 minutes of 5v5 ice-time when he plays, the least on the team.

This shows that the Leafs recognize his strengths and are deploying him in a way to get the most out of him. The expected goals numbers, even tempered by the fact that he seems to put a damper on puck-possession and often plays with the teams best players, are very nice.


Overall his play has been fairly solid and of course he's a fun player to watch and cheer for. Adding Lyubushkin makes the Leafs deeper because he's better than either Marc Giordano or Simon Benoit, but he doesn't really make them much better. That said, he's been perfectly serviceable so far.