Maple Leafs sign Thornton, Simmonds to add grit, experience

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After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2020-21 regular season, which is targeted to start Jan. 1. Today, the Toronto Maple Leafs:

The Toronto Maple Leafs added grit and experience after failing to win a postseason series for the fourth straight season.

Forwards Joe Thornton and Wayne Simmonds, and defensemen TJ Brodie and Zach Bogosian were signed as free agents after the Maple Leafs lost to the Columbus Blue Jackets in five games in the best-of-5 Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

“We wanted to add guys to the group who had urgency, had a lot to prove, or whose time was running out to win,” general manager Kyle Dubas said.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Thornton is 14th on the NHL all-time scoring list with 1,509 points (420 goals, 1,089 assists) in 1,636 games, but in 22 seasons he has reached the Stanley Cup Final once, losing with the San Jose Sharks against the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016. He signed a one-year contract Oct. 16 and feels he has a shot to win a championship with the Maple Leafs.

“I truly believe Toronto, with the roster they have, with the guys they picked up this offseason, I think this team is ready to win now,” he said. “I’m ready to win.”

Simmonds brings some sandpaper to the lineup. He has scored 499 points (251 goals, 248 assists) and 1,125 penalty minutes in 909 games and gives Toronto a physical net-front presence. Brodie and Bogosian will help replace departed free agent defensemen Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci. Toronto also signed goalies Aaron Dell and Michael Hutchinson to provide depth behind starter Frederik Andersen and backup Jack Campbell.

Here is what the Maple Leafs look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Joe Thornton, F: The 41-year-old scored 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in 70 games with the Sharks last season. … Wayne Simmonds, F: The 32-year-old signed a one-year contract Oct. 9 after scoring 25 points (eight goals, 17 assists) in 68 regular-season games with the New Jersey Devils and Buffalo Sabres … TJ Brodie, D: The 30-year-old signed a four-year contract Oct. 9 after scoring 19 points (four goals, 15 assists) in 64 regular-season games with the Calgary Flames, and four points (one goal, three assists) in 10 Stanley Cup Playoff games. … Zach Bogosian, D: The 30-year-old signed a one-year contract Oct. 10 after scoring seven points (one goal, six assists) in 27 regular-season games with the Sabres and Tampa Bay Lightning, and had four assists in 20 playoff games to help the Lightning win the Stanley Cup. … Jimmy Vesey, F: The 27-year-old signed a one-year contract Oct. 11 after scored 20 points (nine goals, 11 assists) in 64 games with the Sabres. … Aaron Dell, G: The 31-year-old signed a one-year contract Oct. 13 after he was 12-15-3 with a 3.01 goals-against average and a .907 save percentage in 33 games (30 starts) with the Sharks. … Michael Hutchinson, G: The 30-year-old, who signed a two-year, two-way contract Oct. 30, was 5-9-1 with an .888 save percentage in 16 games (12 starts) with the Maple Leafs and Colorado Avalanche, and 2-1-0 with a .910 save percentage in four postseason games for the Avalanche. .

Video: The guys break down the Maple Leafs offseason outlook

 

Key departures

Tyson Barrie, D: Signed a one-year contract with the Edmonton Oilers on Oct. 10 after scoring 39 points (five goals, 34 assists) in 70 regular-season games. … Kasperi Kapanen, F: Traded to the Penguins as part of a six-player deal Aug. 25. He scored 36 points (13 goals, 23 assists) in 69 regular-season games. … Andreas Johnsson, F: Traded to the Devils on Oct. 10. He scored 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 43 regular-season games. … Cody Ceci, D: Agreed to a one-year contract with the Penguins on Oct. 17 after scoring eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 56 regular-season games. … Frederik Gauthier, F: Was not tendered a qualifying offer and is an unrestricted free agent after scoring 12 points (seven goals, five assists) in 61 regular-season games. . … Kyle Clifford, F: Signed a two-year contract with the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 11 after scoring 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 69 regular-season games with the Los Angeles Kings and the Maple Leafs.

 

On the cusp

Nicholas Robertson, F: Led the Ontario Hockey League with 55 goals in 46 games for Peterborough last season. Robertson, who turned 19 on Sept. 11, scored one goal in four postseason games. … Rasmus Sandin, D: The 20-year-old made the opening-night roster last season and scored eight points (one goal, seven assists) in 28 games. He scored 15 points (two goals, 13 assists) in 21 games with Toronto of the American Hockey League.

Video: TOR@CBJ, Gm3: Robertson buries one-time goal

 

What they still need

Better play on the defensive end. The Maple Leafs allowed 3.15 goals per game last season, tied with the Anaheim Ducks for 25th in the League.

 

Fantasy focus

Morgan Rielly solidified his top-10 fantasy potential at the position after Barrie signed with the Oilers. Rielly scored 27 points (three goals, 24 assists) in 47 games last season, missing 23 games with injuries. But he proved his elite status with an NHL career-high 72 points (20 goals, 52 assists) in 82 games in 2018-19 and has a similar ceiling this season. He will run the top power-play unit, bringing some of the best exposure in fantasy to forwards Auston Matthews, Mitchell Marner, John Tavares and William Nylander, and he could benefit at even-strength from the signing of Brodie, who is expected to be his partner on the top pair. — Rob Reese

 

Projected lineup

Zach Hyman — Auston Matthews — Mitchell Marner

Ilya Mikheyev — John Tavares — William Nylander

Alexander Kerfoot — Joe Thornton — Jimmy Vesey

Nicholas Robertson — Jason Spezza — Wayne Simmonds

Morgan Rielly — TJ Brodie

Jake MuzzinJustin Holl

Travis Dermott — Zach Bogosian

Frederik Andersen

Jack Campbell

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