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Leafs continue to add vets, sign Winnik to one-year, $1.3M deal

Jul 28, 2014, 2:27 PM EST

Daniel Winnik Getty Images

Toronto has added yet another experienced forward via free agency, agreeing to terms with former Anaheim Duck Daniel Winnik on a one-year deal.

UPDATE: Per ESPN, the contract is for $1.3 million.

Winnik, 29, is an interesting case study. He scored a career-high 30 points last season — while making a tidy $1.8 million — and at times proved to be a useful, big-body forward over the course of two years with the Ducks. The former Coyote, Shark and Avalanche did fall out of Bruce Boudreau’s favor in the postseason, though, sitting as a healthy scratch on a number of occasions while recording just one assist in nine games.

That said, there’s certainly upside to his game.

Winnik has good size (6-foot-2, 210 pounds) and shown consistent scoring ability, putting up identical 11-goal, 26-point campaigns in Phoenix and Colorado earlier in his career. As for Toronto taking a one-year flier on him, it’s very similar to what the Leafs did with ex-Canucks forwards David Booth — who, last week, received a one-year, $1.1M deal after getting bought out — and Mike Santorelli, who signed in Toronto for $1.5M after Vancouver let him walk in free agency.

This “vets on the cheap” blueprint was hatched last season, when Toronto inked another ex-Canuck — Mason Raymond — after inviting him to training camp on a PTO. Raymond scored 19 goals and 45 points while playing on a $1M contract, and subsequently landed a three-year, $9.45M deal from Calgary this offseason.

As for Winnik… his $1.3 million cap hit leaves Toronto with around $3M to get a new deal done with RFA defenseman Jake Gardiner (it also leaves Toronto with 17 forwards on NHL contracts, so that’s something else to monitor.)

  1. llojac1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 2:56 PM

    This coming from a Sabres fan…wow, what a joke the Leafs are. At least the Sabres are building a winner the right way & not signing a bunch of washed up players (thank god Darcy Regier is gone!). Just ask Josh Gorges, he could see it too. Love what Tim Murray is doing here in Buffalo..

    • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:16 PM

      Sabres fans who blindly hate Toronto like this crack me up. It’s such a huge rivalry for you guys, but Buffalo doesn’t even crack Toronto’s top 5 rivalries. Montreal, Ottawa, Detroit, Boston, any other Canadian or Original Six teams, then maybe Buffalo. Luckily the majority of your fanbase is great. Love going to Buffalo to watch games.

  2. lowenni - Jul 28, 2014 at 3:53 PM

    There’s nothing wrong with this signing, @llojac. I agree that the Sabres are trending in the right direction but a fan of that team is hardly in a position to talk about the Leafs–your team had a historically bad season last year because of mismanagement and failure just like the Leafs are expecting. Winnik is a big bodied forward who’s a great defensive guy and can chip in on offense as well. The price isn’t that bad and offers depth to the Leafs so they don’t need to keep dressing guys like Colton Orr. Either way, and I do respect the Sabres and the direction they’re heading, the Leafs could still be worse off. Like the Sabres or something…don’t make this article about your own team just to praise it’s gradual and yet to happen return from being the laughing stock of the league.

  3. sideburntt - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:13 PM

    Buffalo Sabres are awesome, I wish I was a sabres fan, should make the playoffs…..NOOOOT !, trending in the right direction ? hard not to trend upwards when your in last place ! hahahahah. Best way to make a leaf fan feel better is look at the buffalo sabres

    • bsaures - Jul 28, 2014 at 5:16 PM

      No offense but neither teams fans have ANY right to chirp

    • 19to77 - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:48 PM

      Dude, the Leafs haven’t made the Cup Final since 1967. The Sabres only came into existence in 1970 and they’ve still graced their fans with three more Finals appearances than the Leafs. Those who play in glass arenas shouldn’t throw stones.

  4. leepetertk - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:16 PM

    This is a good signing by the Leafs. Winnik has shown that he drives in the play (advanced stats from Kyle Dubas) in a bottom six role. Money and term are low and short so there is little to no risk.

    The Leafs’ depth will be much better next year with all the bottom-six 1-year signings and players that need to earn their next contract (be it Toronto or elsewhere). The challenge the TML will face is getting as much as they can out of their star players.

    • jinx21fan - Jul 28, 2014 at 11:36 PM

      Seriously, enough with the “he drives the play” crap. If this is the type of signing “advanced stats from Kyle Dubas” is bringing to the table, the hype is much ado about nothing.

      • borzemela - Jul 29, 2014 at 2:47 PM

        Dude you’re expecting too much out of this Kyle Dubas…This is starting from the bottom. We won’t see the results right away. But they will be there.

  5. Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:22 PM

    I like these low risk signings. Santorelli, Winnik and Booth for less than $4M. How is that a joke? Beats paying over $8M for just Gionta and Gorges… I’d take Bernier and Reimer over Enroth and Neuvirth anyday too.

  6. raleighcaniac - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    Both Sabres and Leafs stink (ignore my handle please).

  7. sdsabresfan - Jul 28, 2014 at 4:37 PM

    This is a good pickup for the Leafs. Saw Winnik play many times last year in Anaheim. He’ll give the Leafs more size, two-way play and some goals. Being a Sabres fan, it’s my opinion we keep our mouths shut. I love what Murray is doing too, but based off the last few years, now is the time to silently smile. Our time will come…

  8. llojac1 - Jul 28, 2014 at 8:12 PM

    No disrespect towards the Leafs or their fans, but being a Sabres fan, we saw Darcy Regier ruin this team, yes he did make a few good moves but it is so refreshing to have a bold, aggressive GM. So, yea I’m excited about the direction they are going. I have nothing but respect for the Leafs & their great fans & yes Buffalo is lucky to have Toronto as one of its rivals

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