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Team Reset

Maple Leafs hope new defensemen lead to playoff success

Add Barrie, Ceci in separate trades; Kerfoot, Spezza bolster forward depth

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs:

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci hoping that an upgrade at defenseman will help them advance past the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Barrie was acquired in a trade with the Colorado Avalanche on July 1 along with forward Alexander Kerfoot and a sixth-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft for center Nazem Kadri, defenseman Calle Rosen and a third-round pick in the 2020 draft.

 

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Toronto acquired Ceci and defenseman Ben Harpur as part of a six-player trade with the Ottawa Senators the same day.

"We want to be able to really get mobile, move the puck effectively and pass the puck to our forwards, and we have a defenseman (Barrie) now who can get up in the play and support it, push the play and set our defensive line way up the ice," Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas said.

"In Ceci, he's got a lot of experience and he's played a lot of very difficult minutes in Ottawa. With the fact he's going to be an unrestricted free agent in a year, we hope that will provide some incentive."

Kerfoot, who signed a four-year contract July 4 as a restricted free agent, adds to Toronto's forward depth, as does Jason Spezza, who signed a one-year contract July 1.

Video: Avalanche, Maple Leafs benefit from Barrie-Kadri swap

"Spezza seemed like the perfect fit of what he can bring with his experience" Dubas said. "He's a guy still in search of a championship and his skill set, his proficiency on face-offs, that he's from here, it just makes us a great fit."

Here is what the Maple Leafs look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Tyson Barrie, D: The 27-year-old, who could become an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2020, had an NHL career-high 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 78 games last season and eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 12 playoff games. ... Cody Ceci, D: The 25-year-old tied an NHL career high with 26 points (seven goals, 19 assists) in 74 games last season. He signed a one-year contract with Toronto on July 4 as a restricted free agent. … Alexander Kerfoot, F: Kerfoot, who turns 25 on Aug. 11, had 42 points (15 goals, 27 assists) in 78 games last season and three assists in 12 playoff games. ... Jason Spezza, F: The 36-year old had 27 points (eight goals, 19 assists) in 76 games last season with the Dallas Stars. … Ben Harpur, D: The 24-year-old had five points (one goal, four assists) in 51 games with the Senators last season.

 

Key departures

Jake Gardiner, D: He had 30 points (three goals, 27 assists) in 62 games last season and remains unsigned after becoming an unrestricted free agent July 1. ... Ron Hainsey, D: He signed a one-year contract with the Senators on July 1 after he had 23 points (five goals, 18 assists) in 81 games last season. ... Nikita Zaitsev, D: He was acquired by Ottawa as part of the Ceci trade. Zaitsev had 14 points (three goals, 11 assists) in 81 games last season before requesting a trade. … Connor Brown, F: He also was acquired by the Senators in the Ceci trade. Brown had 29 points (eight goals, 21 assists) in 82 games last season. ... Nazem Kadri, F: He had 44 points (16 goals, 28 assists) in 73 games last season. Kadri has 357 points (161 goals, 196 assists) in 561 NHL games, all with Toronto. ... Patrick Marleau, F: He was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes on June 22 along with a conditional first-round pick and a seventh-round pick in the 2020 draft for a sixth-round pick in the 2020 draft. Marleau, who turns 40 on Sept. 15, had 37 points (16 goals, 21 assists) last season and has played in 788 consecutive games.

 

On the cusp

Ilya Mikheyev, F: The 24-year-old signed a one-year, entry-level contract May 6 after he had 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 62 games with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League last season. ... Jeremy Bracco, F: Selected by the Maple Leafs in the second round (No. 61) of the 2015 NHL Draft, the 22-year-old had 79 points (22 goals, 57 assists) for the Toronto Marlies last season, second most in the American Hockey League. ... Rasmus Sandin, D: The 19-year old was selected by the Maple Leafs in the first round (No. 29) of the 2018 NHL Draft and had 28 points (six goals, 22 assists) in 44 games for the Marlies last season.

Video: Which team will sign Jake Gardiner?

 

What they still need

To sign forward Mitchell Marner, who became a restricted free agent July 1 after leading Toronto with an NHL career-high 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists) in 82 games last season. Without a contract in place, Marner said July 18 that he likely would not attend training camp.

 

Fantasy focus

Barrie is tied with Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks for third among NHL defensemen in power-play points (55) over the past two seasons. Barrie could earn a spot on the top power-play unit with valuable forwards John Tavares, Auston Matthews, Marner and likely either Andreas Johnsson or Kasperi Kapanen. Defenseman Morgan Rielly, who ranked third among NHL defensemen last season with an NHL career-high 72 points (20 goals, 52 assists), loses fantasy value now that he must share the offensive workload with Barrie. -- Rob Reese

 

Projected lineup

Zach Hyman -- John Tavares -- Mitchell Marner

Andreas Johnsson -- Auston Matthews -- William Nylander 

Ilya Mikheyev -- Alexander Kerfoot -- Kasperi Kapanen

Nic Petan -- Jason Spezza -- Trevor Moore

Morgan Rielly -- Tyson Barrie

Jake Muzzin -- Cody Ceci

Travis Dermott -- Ben Harpur

Frederik Andersen

Michael Hutchinson

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