Yes, it's true, the Leafs will be bringing Brad Boyes in for training camp on a professional tryout contract:
Leafs are going to have one full training camp this year. https://t.co/Nk3tNWJCVy— James Mirtle (@mirtle) September 10, 2015
This really is good news for three reasons: first, this creates real competition for jobs; second, he might actually be an improvement on a couple of the players the Leafs currently have; and three, it sure looks like the Leafs are in a position to make a trade for future assets before the season has even started. If they want to wait until the deadline to do that, that's also just fine.
Because the team has 14 forwards on 1-way deals (not including Nathan Horton) who are no longer waiver eligible and they have another 3 on PTO's - Devon Setoguchi, Curtis Glencross, and now Brad Boyes, at least two of these players will be surplus. Casey Bailey seems like an obvious choice to join the Marlies, but that still leaves an extra player. The team could, of course, carry 13 forwards - and maybe that is their intention, but it certainly does create the type of job competition that Brian Burke often talked about but didn't really ever create. Instead, waiver rules seemed to dictate what happened, and there was indeed room for complacency (though proving that it existed is another matter). This year, no one's job is secure, and that should create a good competitive atmosphere.
The next good aspect of this signing is that Boyes seems to have some game left. He scored at almost a half point per game this past season, and so even though he is 33, he could potentially push others down the lineup. His possession numbers last year were middling, but certainly not bad, and he's a right winger - an area of particular weakness for the Leafs since the departure of Phil Kessel. His HERO chart looks thusly:
So the Leafs could get a decent 2nd or 3rd liner for free? We'll take it. He could easily be a 2nd line player on a this Leafs team, or be used to shelter someone like Richard Panik. It is true that Boyes had consistent second PP unit time last season that he might not get this season, but if he produces less, that's really not a problem, since if the Leafs do sign him for this season, its bound to be for a cheap, short contract.
Finally, it is possible that the Leafs intend on making a trade - even before the start of the season. Who they might trade is anyone's guess, but the team certainly has enough forwards to shelter their prospects for the time being, and they currently have 5 players who are listed as LW and 9 listed as C's. Naturally, some will play their off-wing or at wing instead of C - there are only 3 players listed as RW, including Boyes - but the possibility remains that a forrward might be jettisoned for other assets either soon or at the deadline.
You might think to yourself "Who is going to want these players who would be bottom-six guys on a good team?" The truth is, a lot of good teams are over-paying for poor bottom-six players, and the Leafs could be the ones to offer them these cheaper options either now or later. This proves that time and again, role-players are consistently available at bargain prices. Do. Not. Overpay. For bottom-six players. At least the Leafs seem to have learned this lesson.
In many ways, this deal is the antithesis of the Dave Nonis era in Toronto. Because Nonis made many small overpayments for players (though let's face it, some of those were huge overpayments), the small mistakes added up until serviceable players - Joe Colborne for instance - were lost in the shuffle. With this management team, we see good, small decisions starting to add up to the point that it could mean something better for the Leafs down the road, in the form of competition for jobs, an improved team, and even, potentially, a trade.
Good work, Leafs.