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Steckel: add one more name to the bottom-six backlog

Here’s the question, I guess:  How many so-called "bottom-six" forwards does it take to make an NHL team get to the playoffs?

The answer: a lot, apparently- at least in Toronto.

The Leaf brass seems to be banking on numbers to get them over the hump.  A few early season issues (minor injuries to Kadri and Connolly, a two-game suspension to MacArthur) have temporarily shifted things around, but the acquisition of David Steckel gives the Leafs one more depth option to help on the third and/or fourth ines.

If we assume that (at least in the short-term)  Lupul stays with Kessel and a soon-to-be-healthy Connolly and the Grabbo unit remains intact, we sure do have a lot of guys looking for ice time after that.  Forgetting the players now with the Marlies, the list includes Bozak, Armstrong, Orr, Rosehill, Boyce (temporarily back?) Dupuis, Lombardi, Kadri, Frattin, Brown and now Steckel.

Am I missing anyone?

That's 11 guys for 6 jobs.  Math was never my thing, but….

Steckel has size, which rarely hurts if you have some skill to go along with it.  And by all accounts he does.  His reputation is that of a solid penalty-killer (though Sjostrom had the same reputation).  Maybe as importantly, Steckel is evidently a top face-off guy, and with Zigomanis now back with the Marlies, the Leafs could surely use that.

Hey, it’s a useful move, I’m sure.  It just creates an interesting situation.  The Leafs are stockpiling an awful lot of third and fourth line (and borderline NHL/AHL) guys.  Most of us would argue that what the club really needs is some elite talent to play on the top lines, but those players aren’t exactly available every day.  And if they were, the Leafs would have to give up some of their precious blueline depth to acquire it.  (That’s why Burke wanted so badly to get that offensive upgrade via free agency, and Connolly was what he was able to obtain in the end.)  It's hard to find top-end defensemen, and trading them is something an NHL teams does rarely- and reluctantly.

I will say this: who thought Burke would be able to obtain a high-end scorer two years ago?  People were saying the same thing back then—you just can’t obtain top-line forwards.  Yet he grabbed Kessel.  (Albeit for a pretty steep price, eh?)  And who really thought he could acquire two "top-six” d-men (Aulie and Phaneuf) for players who simply didn’t fit in the plans any more?

So it can be done.  I just don’t know when it will happen again.

Meanwhile, we will do what we normally do in Toronto—micro-analyze the new guy.  We’ll hope he’s Doug Jarvis until we realize he’s not, and that maybe there’s a reason why he has moved around a little bit (though in this case, it may well be that New Jersey simply had to move salary again…).  But the veteran center, a former U.S. college player and a first-round pick a decade or so ago, can obviously play.  But so can all the other guys I listed above.

So is there another roster shoe about to drop, as in another trade?  Who knows? In the meanwhile, it’s something to talk about until the games start for real.


  1. When I first read this about this deal, I thought it was the set-up for another trade, soon-to-be-announced. Then I thought it was insurance against a continuation of the rash of injuries we've been experiencing. Then I thought it was a reaction to the poor PK in pre-season - Steckel being a good face-off guy.
    But I'm leaning to my first reaction.

  2. We have to be careful assuming Steckel brings more to the table than he actually does. By all reports (the usual suspects have dome some excellent work breaking down his strengths/weaknesses the last 24 hours)- he appears to be a very middling skater and can get in serious trouble on the PK if he has to keep his feet moving. On the other hand, if he wins 3/4 of PK faceoffs and it's immediately cleared up-ice, I can get behind his paycheque no problem.
    Also, listening to G&M podcast right now- keep up the good work, Michael and make more fun of that Sanchez guy.

  3. I think we should start a pool on when the trade is coming and it's composition. I'm in for a $1 for within the week/2 for 1 plus pick for a top 6 forward.

  4. I'm trying to figure it out as well, Gerund O'...must be something on the front burner. You only need so many grinder-forwards.

    A pool would be fun, for sure, KidK. Also, thanks for your support. I appreciate it.