It isn’t Tuesday, but Jim Benning still pulled off one of his classic “trade for an undervalued, youngish player” moves on Monday.
With the Toronto Maple Leafs signing William Nylander, they needed to clear space on their roster. With Josh Leivo looking like the odd-man out, Jim Benning picked up the phone on Monday and called Kyle Dubas. Shortly thereafter, Leivo was a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
Leivo trade wasn’t long in the making from a Vancouver perspective. GM Jim Benning phoned Kyle Dubas this morning for the first time asking about Leivo and it got done rather quickly. Leivo should get a shot in the top 6 in Van. Could be a nice pickup— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) December 3, 2018
Benning dealt 22-year-old Michael Carcone to the Maple Leafs in the deal. After beginning the season as a healthy scratch for the Utica Comets, Carcone has made the most of the Comets’ injuries with 17 points in 21 games.
That being said, his chances are of becoming an NHL player were pretty slim. Here’s one of the better breakdowns that I’ve seen.
Michael Carcone is a decent AHL forward with doubtful NHL upside. This is the Leafs trying to get something out of a waiver move that would have generated nothing. Not a great outcome for Leafs or Leivo but writing has been on the wall and they had to lose someone for Nylander.— Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) December 3, 2018
Despite being touted as someone who can benefit from playing with offensively-gifted players, Leivo was primarily stapled to Toronto’s fourth line for most of the season, with his most common linemates being Tyler Ennis and Frederik Gauthier. He also spent some limited time on Toronto’s second power play unit as well.
Despite only six points in 27 games, along with heavy defensive zone usage, Leivo has looked good for the Maple Leafs.
Once you account for teammates, opponents, score, and zone deployment, Josh Leivo has looked extremely good for Toronto. pic.twitter.com/gzLc6mCvMn— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) December 3, 2018
Where Does Leivo Fit?
I think there’s really one logical answer to this question. If you’re Travis Green, chances are you don’t want to tinker with the chemistry between Nikolay Goldobin, Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser.
Then you have Bo Horvat, who’s been playing with, well, no one of note since Sven Baertschi went down with a concussion late in October.
id put leivo with horvat tomorrow and immediately believe he's one of the best wingers horvat has played with in five weeks— Jason Botchford (@botchford) December 3, 2018
Enter, Sven Baertschi 2.0
That’s at least how Leivo should be deployed until Baertschi returns from injury. Even though he was buried on a good Maple Leafs team this year, in past years he showed an ability to put up points for the Maple Leafs.
Here’s his points-per-60 at even-strength for Toronto over the last three seasons.
- 2015-16: 12 games, 2.07 points-per 60 (would have been second on the Canucks, behind Jannik Hansen)
- 2016-17: 13 games, 3.04 points-per-60 (would have led the Canucks)
- 2017-18: 16 games, 1.73 points-per-60 (would have been seventh on the Canucks, behind Jokinen, Vanek, Horvat, Boeser & the Sedins)
His points-per-game at even-strength this season is a paltry 0.75, but as mentioned, he’s been stapled to the fourth line. In his last ten games, he’s played more than ten minutes four times, and he still has three goals in the time span.
While this trade feels very Brendan Leipsic-ish, ironically enough, it still a chance to utilize a player who by all accounts has been underused in Toronto. The best way to utilize him? Play him in the top-six, at least until Baertschi is healthy.