— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) February 18, 2017
Sergey Kalinin to Toronto
Back on January 24, Elliotte Friedman reported in his 30 Thoughts that the Toronto Maple Leafs were interested in improving their centre depth prior to the trade deadline. Beyond Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, and Tyler Bozak, the Leafs had very little in the system at the centre position. Ben Smith, Byron Froese, and Frederik Gauthier have all played this season as fourth line centre for Toronto, with Smith being the number one option for Mike Babcock.
Kalinin, a 6’3″ 200-pound center, was placed on waivers yesterday by the New Jersey Devils and cleared this morning. At 49 contracts, the Leafs wanted to keep some flexibility, choosing to move a depth player instead of claiming the Russian. As a middleman, Kalinin comes as a cheap player that the Leafs can immediately send to the Toronto Marlies of the AHL, which they have already done according to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
Kalinin is in his second year in North America, after playing for his hometown team Avangard Omsk for parts of six seasons. Last year, in 78 games, he registered eight goals and 15 points in 78 games with the Devils. This year, however, Kalinin has not been very impressive. He has just four points in 43 games and has not been good at the faceoff dot. According to SportingCharts, the 25-year old Russian has won just 41.4% of his draws this season (72/174). In addition, his 44.22% Corsi-for percentage ranks 13th out of the 22 forwards the Devils have put to use this season. Kalinin brings valuable depth to the Marlies, but not much else. He is not eligible for the expansion draft.
Viktor Loov to New Jersey
The Maple Leafs sent 24-year old, 6’3″ Swede Viktor Loov to the Devils to acquire Kalinin. Loov, a left-shot defenseman, is a heavy hitter who does not a produce many points. He will be assigned to the Albany Devils of the AHL, a team that does not have a very solid backend. Loov has just six points this season, in 41 AHL games with the Marlies. He made his NHL debut last year with a four-game stint with the Maple Leafs, where he registered two assists. Loov is eligible for the expansion draft but does not meet the 40/70 requirement. The Maple Leafs have depth on the blueline, but not at centre. The Devils have depth at centre, but not on the defense.
It is a relatively minor deal, but the two teams address a need at a cheap cost. The trade deadline is swiftly approaching, so expect to see more and more of these minor deals take place. With the expansion draft looming this offseason as well, we could see some very intriguing moves being made.