The Toronto Maple Leafs signed unrestricted free agent Stephane Robidas to a three-year, $9 million deal, with an average cap hit of $3-million per year. The 37 year-old defenceman adds a wealth of experience and grit to the Maple Leaf’s defense corps, having played in the NHL for 14 seasons. Doug Maclean of Sportsnet goes on to say, “…he’s a guy who brings character, worth ethic and leadership to the team.”
A stronger work ethic is something this team can benefit from. I’m sure most Leaf fans will agree with me when I say this; there were too many games last season in which the Leafs were simply outplayed. They were out-skated to pucks (in their own end), it was as if the team did not have the desire to play hockey.
Fortunately for Toronto, Robidas is a defensive minded player who doesn’t shy away from playing hard-nosed hockey. During the 2011-12 season with the Dallas Stars, Robidas finished 3rd on the team with 191 hits. The following year, although a shortened season, Robidas led the Stars with 136 hits for. As far as the physical aspect of his game goes, you can’t ask for much more. Not to mention that he’ll prove a solid complement to fellow recent signing Roman Polak, who also excels at the physical side of the game.
Even though I am a fan of what he brings to this team from a maturity/experience standpoint, is this contract justifiable? Last season, Robidas managed to fracture his leg on two separate occasions! Surely most general managers would take a player’s health (at his age) into consideration, before offering a contract such as this. From Dave Nonis’ perspective, I would hope that Robidas can maintain his health for at least a full season, as he has only managed to play in 38 games last year.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) July 1, 2014
Another negative aspect to Robidas’ contract is that it involves a limited no-trade clause. By the contract’s end, Robidas will be 40 years old. Even at this stage in his career, his mobility is questionable. Things certainly won’t get any easier for the Sherbrooke, Quebec native, as defending against the likes of Sidney Crosby, Claude Giroux and Alex Ovechkin (to name a few) will prove to be difficult. If Robidas’ health or performance continues to be an issue, this clause will make trading the defenceman a tricky process.
Putting the contract aside, I feel this move will benefit the Leafs, at least in the short term. Robidas’ experience will definitely aid the development of budding stars Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. Also, on a team where leadership has been questioned, Stephane Robidas will surely use his to create a voice for this hockey club, which has otherwise been devoid of one.