The Toronto Maple Leafs bring in low-risk, high-reward players in bunches almost every offseason due to limited cap space. Nothing about the team’s lineup outside of the “big four” forwards next season is very clear. However, one player that is set to continue to make strides in his development next season is Alex Kerfoot. Coming off of a monster playoffs series against the Montreal Canadiens, Kerfoot will look to pick up right where he left off playing tough minutes for the Leafs on both their penalty kill and power play.
Alex Kerfoot Set To Be an Integral Part of Maple Leafs’ Success
On July 21st, 2021, all eyes were watching Seattle Kraken GM Ron Francis as he, along with the rest of the Kraken’s leadership team, pondered who to select as their inaugural set of players on the NHL’s latest expansion team. A few days prior, the Leafs made a splash by trading for forward Jared McCann from the Pittsburgh Penguins. McCann was the likely option to replace Kerfoot, who was the frontrunner to be selected in the expansion draft.
While in a surprising turn of events, the Leafs left both Kerfoot and McCann unprotected in the draft. The Kraken drafted McCann, leaving Kerfoot and his $3.5 million AAV cap hit with the Leafs. By opting to not protect McCann in the expansion draft (leaving him likely to be selected) and instead choosing to protect four defencemen (Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, T.J. Brodie, and Justin Holl) and four forwards (Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander), Leafs GM Kyle Dubas obviously believed that Alex Kerfoot is still a valuable member of the team and expects him to play a large role this season.
Kerfoot Set to Play Big Minutes For the Leafs
While Kerfoot has been in trade rumours the entire offseason, he is still an extremely valuable player for the Leafs. Last season, the Vancouver native produced 23 points in 56 games while anchoring the third line. While his regular season stats were good, Kerfoot really shined in the playoffs, putting up six points in seven games.
Next season, he will either centre the third line or compliment one of the top two lines on the wing. The Leafs will analyze their forward depth and make that decision based upon that assessment. If Kerfoot is moved up to play a top-six role, one of David Kampf, Pierre Engvall, or Adam Brooks will likely be their third-line centre – not an ideal scenario. On the other hand, Kerfoot has shown the ability to anchor the Leafs’ third line in recent years. Keeping him in that role will also give the team some added depth down the middle.
Regardless of where he plays, Kerfoot will be a leader both on and off the ice for the Maple Leafs. He will likely also be a large factor on the Leafs’ penalty kill, as well as their second powerplay unit. Expect Kerfoot to be a large part of the Leafs’ quest back into the playoffs in a tough Atlantic division.