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One Leafs rookie standout may make veteran winger expendable


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Ryan Smitheram
November 27, 2022  (12:30)
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Through 8 games so far this season, Swedish center Pontus Holmberg has provided Sheldon Keefe and the Leafs a very well-round and stabilizing third line pivot, who plays smart, safe hockey. The more he has played, the better he has looked and the more likely it is that the former sixth round pick will become a mainstay in the Leafs' forward group.

Since being called up and inserted into the lineup on November 15th, Holmberg has two goals, including the game winner on Wednesday night against New Jersey and one assist for a total of 3 points, while averaging 9:30 of ice-time per game. Not only that, but he has started 57% of his 5-on-5 shifts in the defensive zone and is still producing a positive expected goals for and against differential.
Holmberg's play and his growth as a third line center that can kill penalties could mean that one or both of Alex Kerfoot and Pierre Engvall are expendable and moved by the trade deadline. At a combined $5.75M, Kerfoot and Engvall have failed to produce this season after career years last year. Kerfoot has just 1 goal and 7 points in 23 games after a career-high 51 points last season. As for Engvall, after a career high 15 goals last season and the player saying he was aiming to score 20 this season, has disappointed with just 2 goals and 5 points through 22 games.
That production, especially for Kerfoot, who has played top-6 minutes fairly regularly this season, is just not worth the $5.75M the Leafs are paying them. Sure, their value is lower than what it was during the off-season but they can still be useful trade chips to acquire either cheaper, bottom-six forwards or even draft capital to free up a contract slot for Matthew Knies and allow productive Marlies like Alex Steeves to audition for an NHL look.
Holmberg is doing more than just solidifying his spot in the lineup with his play. He is showing that the Leafs have a crop of young players on ELCs that can produce and contribute on and off the scoresheet and are just waiting to seize the opportunity.
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27 NOVEMBRE   |   453 ANSWERS
One Leafs rookie standout may make veteran winger expendable

Is Alex Kerfoot expendable with the play of Pontus Holmberg?

Yes34175.3 %
No419.1 %
Kerfoot was already expendable7115.7 %
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