The Leafs made a huge roster mistake during training camp and it's costing them now

Ryan Smitheram
December 3, 2023  (12:30)

Days before the season began, the Toronto Maple Leafs acquired a 2024 fifth round pick from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Sam Lafferty. The trade surprised many at the time and many thought it was a terrible way for the Leafs to make themselves cap compliant. The move was made to create cap space for prospect Fraser Minten to begin the season with the Leafs and so that they could keep Ryan Reaves on the roster.

Minten has since been returned to the WHL and Reaves has struggled through the first quarter of the season, having found himself in the press box more frequently over the last month or so. Lafferty, on the other hand, is thriving in Vancouver.
Through 25 games with Vancouver, Lafferty has 6 goals and 12 points and is playing slightly under 13 minutes per game. At 5-on-5, the difference between Lafferty and Reaves is astronomically in favour of Lafferty. When he has been on the ice, the Canucks have scored 16 goals and given up just 7.
At 5-on-5 when Reaves has been on the ice, the Leafs have struggled, scoring just 2 goals and giving up 12. When you break those numbers down into per-60 rates, the Canucks are giving up 1.55 goals per 60 minutes when Lafferty is on the ice compared to the 5.64 per 60 the Leafs give up when Reaves is on the ice.
When Reaves is in the lineup, Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe has refrained from playing him in the latter half of games and double-shifting another winger in his spot to help the Leafs secure a win or attempt a comeback. It has certainly hindered his ability to match lines and he has little to no faith in the fourth line when Reaves is in the lineup.
If the Leafs had kept Lafferty, they could be deploying the likes of him, Noah Gregor and David Kampf as a fourth line. Lafferty could have also served as a third line center in a pinch and would certainly help the Leafs' penalty kill - though Keefe didn't use him much there last season.
The Lafferty trade may have been a huge mistake by GM Brad Treliving, in hindsight, of course.
The Leafs made a huge roster mistake during training camp and it's costing them now

Should the Leafs simply have kept Lafferty instead of signing Ryan Reaves?

Yes78587.3 %
No11412.7 %
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