Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke has pulled the trigger on his first deal and the regular season hasn't even started yet. The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired center David Steckel from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a fourth-round pick in 2012 NHL Entry Draft.
Before I get into what Steckel brings to the Leafs, I have to ask/say one thing: Did they need another center? Steckel is capable of playing the wing, but he is better at the center position. At the very least, this could cost Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin the third-line left wing position.
Alright, now that I've got my rant over with, let's start the evaluation.
David Steckel split last season with the Devils and the Washington Capitals, playing 75 games and totaling six goals and six assists for 12 points. He is most well known for being the player who laid the first hit on Sidney Crosby in the Winter Classic.
Steckel has been in the top seven in faceoff winning percentage for each of his four seasons in the league, finishing first last season. The Hockey News lists his assets as having a very imposing frame, can kill penalties and score in the clutch, among other things I've already mentioned.
Obviously, the Leafs can definitely use Steckel's penalty-killing skills and his faceoff skill will definitely help when the Leafs need to win a crucial faceoff. The question is, what will it cost the Leafs to bring him in?
Kadri and Frattin were fighting for the third-line left wing spot all the way through training camp until Kadri got injured. Frattin won the job by default. Now, with Clarke MacArthur's suspension, Frattin will be moved up the second line for the first two games. After that, I think he will be sent down to the Marlies and Kadri will not be brought back up.
With the acquisition of Steckel, this is what I see the Leafs lineup looking like; at least for now:
- First Line: Joffrey Lupul-Tim Connolly-Phil Kessel
- Second Line: Clarke MacArthur-Mikhail Grabovski-Nikolai Kulemin
- Third Line: Matthew Lombardi-Tyler Bozak-Colby Armstrong
- Fourth Line: Mike Brown-David Steckel-Jay Rosehill
There is one more question to ask about this acquisition: Is this the first building block to a bigger deal?
Unless Tyler Bozak can play the wing, the best option for the Leafs is to assemble the lineup as I have shown above. Bozak is one of Toronot's players who could be packaged with other players to get a better player.
What kind of difference will David Steckel make? Only time will tell.