New Leafs forward Connor Dewar
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What the Leafs are getting in 24-year-old Connor Dewar and why he might be the perfect addition

Published March 9, 2024 at 10:23

Deadline day was not exactly what many would call an eventful day for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but perhaps it's better that way. The only move that the Leafs made on Friday was sending prospect Dmitry Ovchinnikov and a 2026 4th round pick in exchange for depth forward Connor Dewar in a trade that many had seen as underwhelming at the time. However, the move itself did address a need in Toronto.

Dewar is an excellent penalty killer, which was a big area of need in Toronto. Not only did they add another option for the PK, but Dewar is also a natural center, which gives the Leafs a bit of a different look down the middle as well. People don't know a lot about him, but Dewar does stand a pretty good chance of being an impactful addition to the Leafs' bottom six and his AHL coach, Tim Army, provided a rave review of his game, which may excite some fans in Toronto.

As a young player transitioning from junior hockey to pro hockey, one of the hardest areas to develop is the defensive game. As the players get bigger, faster and stronger, it can create all sorts of mismatches and further limit the time and space that a player has to make decisions. For many players in junior, offense comes easy. However, when you make the AHL or NHL and the offense is a little tougher to come by, that's when a strong defensive game will become much more important and can be the difference between failure and success at the pro level.

Iowa Wild coach Tim Army never had any questions about Dewar's offensive game when he stepped foot on AHL ice. However, there were certainly questions about his ability to withstand the physicality of the AHL and his overall defensive game. Thankfully, Dewar was able to answer those questions very quickly.

"(Dewar) was an elite offensive producer in junior, but he quickly got comfortable with the physicality of the AHL. Once you start to gain confidence physically at a new level, your natural instincts come through.

His decision-making is outstanding, and those kinds of things create offence. He's very intelligent. He's mobile, fast and can separate himself from players in the offensive zone. A really good skater. Most importantly, he's reliable defensively. Extremely coachable. He can listen and then execute the right way without any complaining. He can give you those momentum shifts that you need in a playoff series, (that) can dictate play. The kind of plays that set the table for the big guys to score." - Army on new Leaf Connor Dewar

If you're still hesitant to get excited about having Dewar as a Leaf after hearing what his AHL coach had to say, his former coach in Minnesota, Dean Evason, also raved about his game.

"His grit and competitiveness is over the top." - Evason on Dewar

As Army had mentioned, Dewar was an excellent point producer at the junior level, surpassing 35 goals in each of his last two seasons with the Everett Silvertips, culminating in an 81-point season in just 57 games in his final year in junior. While his point production has gone down a bit at the NHL level, the other tools he brings to the table have really helped make him an effective NHL player and PK specialist. Dewar has a very active stick and, despite his 5'10, 183-pound frame, he's very tenacious and plays a hard game, landing 124 hits last season - the first full season of his young NHL career. He's also just 24 years old and a pending RFA, so he factors into the plan beyond this season in Toronto.

The Leafs have a very specific archetype that they've targeted in recent drafts, which is those relentless players who work hard and can contribute in a variety of situations. The additions of Matthew Knies, Fraser Minten and Easton Cowan in the last two drafts are evidence of that. Now, with Dewar in the fold, it's becoming more and more clear that the Leafs are committed to their skilled core and that the plan is now to bring in those relentless workers to try to best compliment them and make the team a lot more difficult to play against. In that sense, Dewar appears to be a quality add by the Leafs on Friday. I'm very much looking forward to seeing what this kid can do, even if his ice time is limited.

March 9   |   495 answers
What the Leafs are getting in 24-year-old Connor Dewar and why he might be the perfect addition

Will Connor Dewar exceed expectations in Toronto?

Yes, I'm intrigued32265.1 %
No, just another replacement level guy17334.9 %
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