This is less of a rumour for the Leafs and more of a hope from some fans.
Elliott Friedman simply wondered out loud about the availability of Brandon Montour on the Headlines segment of Hockey Night in Canada on Saturday night, due to the young blueliners lowered minutes since Randy Carlyles dismissal.
Those minutes look something like this:
In all but 1 game, over the previous 39 games, Montour played at least 20 minutes a night. The single game below 20 was a 4-0 loss to Edmonton, where he played 19:32. During that 39 game stretch he played 13 games over 25 minutes, 5 of those 13 he played over 26 minutes, 2 of those 5 were over 27 minutes and he played a single game where he played a whopping 29:36 (vs the Leafs, a 2-1 loss). That’s all indicative of a #1 defender…. or at least a player that’s being trusted as one.
Before those 39 games his time on ice was a mixed bag but again, the TOI numbers show a player being used in the top 4, but further into the season he jumped to the top pair. Why? Simply put, it’s because Cam Fowler got injured and somebody needed to play those minutes. Many of those heavy lifting nights were during the weeks played without Fowler. After Fowler returned it seems that Montour had won over Randy Carlyle, because his minutes never went down to his previous level, but they did drop from those extremes.
So where and how was he being used?
His SH-TOI/GP sits at 1:57 per game. That sits at 3rd on the team among blueliners, behind Josh Manson and Hampus Lindholm. It seems that you could expect a little help on the PK from him, but nearly 2 minutes a night is a little skewed because of the previously mentioned Fowler injury. With Fowler in the lineup he plays much less while shorthanded.
His PP-TOI/GP also sits at 1:57 per game. That is the 2nd highest total among blueliners on the Ducks, behind Cam Fowlers 2:37.
So, without actually watching the games we can see a picture being painted of a player that is being trusted to play an all around game, but isn’t the first guy over the boards on any of the special teams units. While he is only 24, and this being just his 2nd full year in the NHL, this isn’t surprising to me but shows me that Randy Carlyle considered him to be a player that could possibly grow into a bigger role.
Some other things worth noting that some stats would indicate is his willingness to block shots, and that he doesn’t hit a lot. So any buyer shouldn’t expect a very physical player, but one that’s willing to risk the bumps and bruises that come with shot blocking and penalty killing. He also leads their blueline in shots taken, so getting the puck on net and taking on some power play duties would be right up his alley.
That’s likely enough for the snapshot of the player. The question now is what has happened since Randy Carlyle has left?
In those 6 games Montour has played between 15-19 minutes per night. His short handed ice time is completely gone, and his EV/TOI has also dropped. He has been paired with Jason Megna on the 3rd pair regularly while at even strength. He is still being used on the powerplay regularly, but he only has 1 point since Carlyles departure and that was at even strength. The player that has been given more minutes during that time is Michael Del Zotto, who is being trusted with over 20 minutes a game some nights.
Is the change in ice time working though? The Ducks have gone 3-3 since Murray took over behind the bench, and have scored 1 or less in 4 of their 6 games. Is moving on from one of their more offensive minded defenders the right idea when you take that into consideration?
It’s tough to say how available he is, considering his age and contract (3.3875M this year and next, then he’s RFA) and the fact that he has room to develop, but if he is I think it’s a player the Leafs could really use.
If they are to move on from Jake Gardiner then having a young replacement that is already playing in a similar role, and that’s signed for another year makes sense.
Aside from all of this it’s the cost that would be concerning. Teams aren’t about to give away a 24 year old defender on a friendly contract, even if his minutes have dropped. It also appears that Kyle Dubas would prefer to add cheap depth, instead of a big and costly acquisition.
Just a few more hours and we’ll see exactly how it all turns out.
In the meantime what are your thoughts Leafs Nation? Yay or Nay to a 6 foot, 195lb defender, that moves the puck well? Is he what the Leafs need?