Dobber's offseason fantasy hockey grades – Toronto Maple Leafs
For the last 16 years (12 with The Hockey News) Dobber has reviewed each team from a fantasy-hockey standpoint and graded them.
The 17th annual review will appear here on DobberHockey throughout the summer. This is not a review of the likely performance on the ice or in the standings, but in the realm of fantasy hockey.
Impact of changes – There was a lot of fancy cap maneuvering going this summer and GM Kyle Dubas pulled it off. He got Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen all signed within the last 10 months. We didn’t think he could do it and he did it. It cost the Leafs some good players but the players who were brought in are also good. The biggest loss would be the term on Barrie’s contract. Because of the tight cap situation the Leafs will have to let Barrie walk next summer. So this is a one-year window for the best players on this team to remain together. But the good news is that a year from now stud D prospect Rasmus Sandin and possibly Timothy Liljegren will be ready to make the jump.
The first two lines are exactly the same as last year (once Zach Hyman returns from injury). The top four defensemen have changed dramatically, with Tyson Barrie adding a strong double-threat in terms of moving the puck. With 72-point Morgan Reilly ends his shift and 59-point Barrie jumps the boards, the threat to the opposition will continue. That makes a big difference – and on the power play, too. Mike Babcock loved to run a 1A and 1B power play in 2017-18. He got away from that a bit last season, but this year he could back to it again now that Barrie can quarterback just as well as Rielly.
Ready for full-time – Ilya Mikheyev came into his own for Avangard Omsk (KHL) last season when he posted 23 goals and 45 points in 62 games. The 24-year-old could be the cheap solution that the cap-strapped Leafs need. Unlike centerman Par Lindholm, last year’s high-producing European signee, Mikheyev is a natural left-shooting right wing and a shoot-first sniper. Pencil him in for the third line, and first dibs in the top six if a current winger there gets hurt.
Jordan Schmaltz is on a one-way contract this year, but he’s coming off a miserable 2019-20. He was terrible in 20 games for the Blues and never did get his head straight after being sent to San Antonio. In the AHL he had just nine points and was minus-22 in 36 games. The former first-round pick (25th overall in 2012) is hoping a fresh start with Toronto will get him back on track. He turns 26 in October so this really is his last shot at the NHL – and it will be an uphill battle.
I still consider Nic Petan a prospect. Even though he didn’t touch the minor leagues at all last year, he only played 18 games for Winnipeg and Toronto. He was a victim of the NHLPA’s silly waivers rule. Teams don’t want to lose him for nothing, so they obviously see the potential in him. But when will he get his chance? He was a high draft pick (43rd overall in 2013), he dominated junior hockey (113 points in 63 games for Portland of the WHL in 2014-15) and he dominated the AHL (52 points in 52 games for Manitoba in 2017-18. When is his NHL chance? Barring two or three injuries to Toronto wingers, it won’t be with this team.
Toronto Maple Leafs prospect depth chart and fantasy upsides can be found here (not yet ready for mobile viewing, desktop only right now)
Fantasy Outlook – Toronto was fourth in goals scored last season and they were second the season prior. This year with Barrie giving them tremendous PP depth they should get back up to second place again. The team is deep at forward with fantasy-worthy players led by the players noted above, as well as of course John Tavares. And they are deep on defense with Barrie, Rielly and Jake Muzzin. Goaltender Frederik Andersen is one of the best fantasy owns out there. The prospect pipeline is very strong when it comes to goaltenders, and with Sandin/Liljegren the defensemen are also quite promising. But at forward, other than Mikheyev and Jeremy Bracco, there isn’t much in the way of fantasy depth and that’s the price for success. Overall, this is a great organization to build a fantasy team around.
Fantasy Grade: A+ (last year was A+)
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2019 Offseason Fantasy Hockey Grades