Toronto Maple Leafs: Signing Kerfoot and Ceci

The Toronto Maple Leafs recent acquisitions of RFAs Cody Ceci and Alex Kerfoot leave the Leafs with many questions, one being the cost of these assets.

Below I break down each player, what I believe they’re worth,and whether or not the Toronto Maple Leafs should keep them around.

*UPDATE: July 4, 2019 – Leafs extend Alex Kerfoot for 4 years, $14 million total (3.5 million AAV). Leafs extend Cody Ceci 1 year, $4.5 million.*

Alex Kerfoot

Age: 24

Pos: C, LW

2018-19 Stats:

78GP-15G-42P-0.54P/GP-16GC-51.7CF%-98.1PDO-55.7OFZS%-14:53ATOI-56.0FO%

Career Stats:

157GP-34G-85P-0.54P/GP-32GC-50.1CF%-99.5PDO-55.2OFZS%-14:09ATOI-49.0FO%

Kerfoot, a Vancouver native, is a solid two-way forward that brings a lot of versatility to the Leafs lineup. Per sportsforecaster.com, Kerfoot is effective in all three zones with prominent playmaking skills. Judging by his impressive production and solid analytics, as well as his ability to play centre, Kerfoot is a truly valuable asset. Although it’s tough to see Nazem Kadri leave, Alex Kerfoot certainly softens the blow and should prove to be a fan favourite if signed by Toronto.

Kadri, 28, had two more points than Kerfoot in five less games, but other than that, held no sizable advantage over Kerfoot. Kadri saw more ice time (16:11 ATOI, +1:18 mins over Kerfoot), but managed roughly the same or lesser stats. In essence, the Leafs got a player who perfectly fits Kadri’s role at the 3C spot. With these comparables, both players should earn roughly the same amount. I believe Kerfoot and the Leafs will come to an agreement on a two or three year deal, at roughly $4 million AAV.

Cody Ceci

Age: 25

Pos: RD

2018-19 Stats:

74GP-7G-26P-0.35P/GP-9GC-44.1CF%-99.7PDO-55.3DFZS%-22:34ATOI

Career Stats:

440GP-32G-118P-0.27P/GP-41GC-45.7CF%-99.8PDO-54.2DFZS%-21:04ATOI

It’s really hard to beat around the bush when it comes to Ceci. The RHD is consistently a below average defender who seems to play too much. Despite the weak depth on the right side, the Leafs can’t afford to have Ceci logging big minutes on the back end, which would likely hurt his (probable) defense partner Morgan Rielly.

To make things worse, Ceci is currently and RFA, with an option to accept a one-year $4.5 million Qualifying Offer given to him by Ottawa. That being said, Ceci is a big defender, which earns him extra Brownie points from Mike Babcock, that can produce at a fair pace for a dman. This description sound familiar? It better, cause it belongs to Dion Phaneuf, the former captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who just so happens to be a free agent.

Phaneuf is getting older and would likely be a depth signing, but depth signings cannot hurt you, while signing a below average RFA D-man to a $4.5 million contract can.

I simply do not care about handedness at this point. Ceci is a below average NHL player who is about to get money that a solid second pairing defenseman would, which is unacceptable – especially with the cap crunch Toronto has been in. Best case scenario for both parties would be a trade.

Conclusion

The Leafs have a very interesting summer ahead of them, with Mitch Marner still unsigned. That being said, they have two very easy decisions here, sign Alex Kerfoot and trade Cody Ceci.

Stats and other info retrieved from hockey-reference.com, sportsnet.ca, and sportsforecaster.com

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