Toronto Maple Leafs fans have seen a fair share of veteran skater signings this off-season.
Daniel Winnik, David Booth, Mike Santorelli, Leo Komarov, and Stephane Robidas will draw into the Leafs roster next season. These moves leave the Toronto Maple Leafs with $360,000 in cap space (as per capgeek.com). The moves also leave the Leafs with a full roster.
But there is one UFA left on the free agent market who might make it worthwhile for the Leafs to shuffle some players around and make a little salary cap room.
Let’s take a look at three reasons why BizNasty2point0 would fit right in with the Leafs.
1. The advanced stats
Bissonnette doesn’t play big minutes. Never has. His career average ice time per game (TOI) is 5:26. Last season, he played only 4:45 per game.
But, when he’s on the ice, his advanced stats reveal that he’s a useful player.
Bissonnette has registered positive (above 50%) Corsi ratings in 4 of his 5 “full-time” seasons (52.6% last year). His full-season stat averages work out to about 150 hits and only one giveaway every 11 games. For a fourth-line enforcer, these are all very attractive metrics.
Even worse, he lost two of those fights.
But, from 2009-2012, Bissonnette fought 39 times. That average of 13 fights per year would land him in a tie for sixth in league fighting last season. He can still drop the gloves, when needed. It seems like Dave Tippett’s defensive, team-oriented schemes called for BizNasty to avoid searching for fight partners.
Nov 23, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Colton Orr (28) warms up before playing against the Washington Capitals at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
With the fighting or without, Bissonnette could fill in the minutes that enforcers like Colton Orr play for the Toronto Maple Leafs.Orr averaged 5:23 TOI last season, right in line with BizNasty’s playing time.
2. The price Last season, Paul Bissonnette earned $737,500, as per capgeek.com. The Minnesota Wild, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Washington Capitals were all rumoured to be interested in Bissonnette’s services.
However, those teams have yet to act.
That makes it fairly likely that the Toronto Maple Leafs could offer between $900,000 and $1 million per year. The average NHL salary is $2.4 million/year, making Bissonnette a bargain for the role he might play.
To make it happen, some very simple roster shuffling would be needed. Basically, the roster would have to look like this:
*in this projection, Colton Orr and Matt Frattin head to the Toronto Marlies. All prior UFA signings make the team.
3. BizNasty in the Big Smoke The last and (maybe) best reason to bring Paul Bissonnette in isn’t his advanced stats. It’s not his fighting either. It’s not his cap-friendly hit or his years of experience playing responsible, tough hockey.
His biggest offering is in the Toronto Maple Leafs dressing room.
Many reporters noted that the Leafs’ locker room went sour at the end of last season. Dion Phaneuf has come under fire for his still-developing leadership. Phil Kessel leads the team in scoring but is painfully shy in front of the camera.
That’s where Bissonnette comes in.
His Twitter account is legendary. His take on the ALS ice bucket challenge was stupendous and he routinely engages media and fans with self-deprecating humour:
This lighthearted style could breath life into a stall Leafs’ locker room, giving Phaneuf time to develop his skills as a leader.
Having Paul Bissonnette around to share his thoughts might even prevent distractions like James Reimer vs. Randy Carlyle from taking hold on media scrums.
Twitter’s not the only reason to sign a guy. But, when he’s cheap and the advanced stats check out, his media savvy senses don’t hurt. This is a player who offers a unique skill set.
What do you think, Leafs fans? Is there roomforBizNasty2point0 with the Toronto Maple Leafs?