October 04, 2011
In what's turning out to be a surprisingly busy Tuesday at the NHL head offices (someone was claimed on waivers today--exhausting), the Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired centre David Steckel from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth round pick. Now he can finally be a part of the group hug above!
It's always exciting for Toronto fans to learn that the Leafs have acquired a centre, but Steckel won't be counted on to lead the team offensively. That would be foolish. Instead, he'll likely slot in as the fourth line centre, behind Tim Connolly(notes), Mikhail Grabovski(notes), and Matthew Lombardi(notes). While some are speculating that this could mean the end for Tyler Bozak(notes), I would counter that, with this group of centres, a spot is certain to open up to due to injury by the middle of next week.
Regardless of whether Steckel's arrival in Toronto punches Tyler Bozak's ticket out of town, the big centre will no doubt help in the faceoff circle, where the Leafs were 15th in 2010-11 and looked to be on the way down in this regard. Bozak was their best faceoff man and he just got bumped to fifth on the depth chart. In 2009-10, his last full season, Matthew Lombardi's faceoff win percentage was 49.7. Last year, Mikhail Grabovski's was 48.4, and Tim Connolly's was 45.9. Meanwhile, Steckel led the NHL at 62.3%.
As for the Devils, what do they get out of this? Why, a fourth round pick, remember? Also, room for the kids. From Fire & Ice:
"It certainly frees up a roster spot for a combination of us looking into seeing what we can do with Petr Sykora(notes) and also the young players (Adam) Henrique and Mattias Tedenby(notes) and Brad Mills(notes), Cam Janssen(notes), I think they've warranted being on the roster," Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said. "But the coaches will have different options at that center position: Hernrique, Petr Sykora and Brad Mills."