After 57 games with Ben Smith and Frederik Gauthier centering their fourth line, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Brian Boyle at the trade deadline. He made a big impact on the lineup, even though he didn’t score many points as in the blue and white.
Though Boyle left after just 21 games in the regular season and six in the playoffs, the difference in his play from the likes of Smith and Gauthier made an impact on Maple Leafs management. On Day One of free agency, the Leafs signed Dominic Moore to replace Boyle, who signed a two-year, $5 million with the New Jersey Devils.
Toronto Maple Leafs Roster Preview, 50-in-50: Dominic Moore
A former Maple Leaf, Dominic Moore last appeared in a Toronto uniform in the 2008-09 season. Moore had career high numbers in his stint at the Air Canada Centre, scoring 41 points in 63 games during the 2008-09 year prior to being traded to the Buffalo Sabres.
Now 37 years of age, Dominic Moore has embraced the role of a fourth line, penalty killing, faceoff winning depth centre. After three years with the New York Rangers, Moore joined the Boston Bruins in 2016-17 on a one-year contract.
Since his return to hockey in 2013-14, Moore has been incredibly durable. Last year was no different, as the native of Sarnia posted his second 82 game campaign since his return. Over the last four seasons, Moore has played a whopping 317 regular season games, as well as 55 playoff games.
As a Bruin, Moore was a both a mainstay in the lineup and a consistent component of the penalty kill. He played 161 minutes and 22 seconds shorthanded, fifth on the Bruins behind only Zdeno Chara, Brandon Carlo, Adam McQuaid, and Patrice Bergeron. He also scored three goals and four points with three or fewer teammates on the ice, second on Boston behind Brad Marchand.
Along with penalty killing, the other important factor, at least to his new head coach Mike Babcock, is his faceoff skill. Babcock believes faceoffs are a teachable skill and having a faceoff savvy veteran like Moore should help Auston Matthews, Nazem Kadri, and William Nylander further develop their skills at the dot. Last year with the Bruins, Moore won 357 draws, over 54% of his faceoffs.
Offensively, Moore produced well given the minutes he played. With 11 goals and 25 points, he finished seventh in the NHL in terms of players who received 13 minutes or less per game. Dominic Moore’s production also placed him ninth on the Bruins.
Profile (via EliteProspects)
Weight: 192 lbs
NHL Draft: Third Round, 95th Overall in 2000 by New York Rangers
Contract (via CapFriendly)
Dominic Moore signed a one-year, $1 million contract on July 1, 2017, with the Toronto Maple Leafs. The contract is nearly identical to the deal he signed a year ago with the Boston Bruins.
Last year, Moore signed a deal worth $900,000 in base salary with the potential to rise to $1 million if he were to play in 42 games and the Bruins made the playoffs. Obviously, Moore played 82 games and the Bruins lost in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, resulting in an extra $100,000 for Moore.
His contract with the Leafs is worth the same amount, however, all $1 million is guaranteed. Moore received no performance or signing bonuses from the Leafs, just $1 million in base salary.
Dominic Moore’s role with the Leafs in 2017-18 is fairly obvious. After years of fourth line duty for playoff teams, Moore will look to do the same this upcoming season. Moore has made the playoffs in each of his last seven seasons, excluding the 2012-13 year in which he did not play due to the death of his wife.
Look for Moore to replace Ben Smith in the Leafs lineup on the fourth line, likely sending Smith back down to the Marlies and keeping the currently injured Frederik Gauthier in the AHL. Expect Moore to approach his totals from last year, especially if Kasperi Kapanen plays on the fourth line next year.
Overall, Moore’s signing makes the Leafs a better team than last. Ben Smith was a black hole in the lineup for much of the year, even more so after his wrist surgery. Smith was unable to create possession or any offense, often finding himself trapped in the defensive zone. Dominic Moore is an absolute upgrade for this Leafs team, making him a good, cheap addition to the lineup.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images