After a disappointing start to free agency that saw the Toronto Maple Leafs strike out on the likes of Paul Stastny, Dan Boyle, Josh Gorges, Matt Moulson, Brad Richards and Dave Bolland. The list of free agent options for the Leafs brass to make an offer to is running thin.
Although this years free agency class lacks potentially transcending players, it does possess quality role players who can contribute to a team in various scenarios. Albeit this is not a “hot button” aspect of free agency, it is a crucial one that pays dividends for teams during their stretch run and come playoff time. For a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs, these role players have become their reality after whiffing on the prominent names to start free agency.
Needless to say, the third and fourth line centre slot could use an improvement still. Given the list of who is still left on the free agent market, the most viable centre left is 31 year old, Steve Ott.
From a perspective of filling the void left by Dave Bolland, Mr. Ott would fit in well with the Blue and White. Although Steve Ott does have a reputation for being a bonafide pest in the NHL, he is an above average two-way player that brings a versatile style of play to the ice.
As an 11 year veteran, Steve Ott’s career numbers certainly don’t jump out at you statistically. But look past his points total and you will find a very adaptable player that is used in a variety of situations. Ott’s adaptability appears all over the ice. He is capable of playing on just about any line. He also an effective penalty killer and capable of operating in front of the net on the power play. Ott’s versatility is evident through his deployment stats, where according to Extra Skater, Ott was deployed evenly in all zones of the ice throughout the year. He had an offensive zone start percentage of 30.7%, a neutral zone start percentage of 35.4%, and a defensive zone start percentage of 33.9%.
So what do these deployment stats have to do with how Steve Ott would fit in on the Maple Leafs?
Well, when you compare Ott’s versatile numbers to a former Toronto Maple Leaf, you can’t help but draw comparisons between the two.
Let’s take a look at a quick comparison chart between Player A and Player B.
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Player A would be Dave Bolland and Player B would be Steve Ott. Clearly the difference in games played last season is a glaring difference between the two players. But when you look at them on a three year scale of averages, they still present similar metrics.
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Even though the two gritty centre men share similar numbers right across the board, they will more than likely receive vastly different salaries. Dave Bolland signed a five-year contract worth $27.5 million, while Steve Ott has never signed a contract worth more than $3 million a year. Although the rumours of potential suitors for Steve Ott have been reportedly rising, the notion of Ott becoming a hot name by tomorrow are undeniable.
With cap space still available, one would have to believe that the Maple Leafs do have a chance at signing Ott. Aside from the age factor – Bolland is 28, Ott is 32 – Ott brings a very similar skill set to the Leafs that could be a suffice replacement to fill the void left by Dave Bolland. Ott’s propensity to play with an edge, provide versatility and leadership could fit in well with head coach Randy Carlyle‘s system.
With much of Leafs Nation frustrated after day one of free agency, let us know your thoughts below on who they could sign in the coming days to fill their needs. Is Steve Ott a viable option?
Let us know what you think Leafs fans!