Tomas Plekanec was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. His return is here. The second round pick and Kerby Rychel are intriguing wrinkles in the transaction for Montreal. However, the bigger focus is why Plekanec to Toronto?
What Tomas Plekanec Means To Toronto
Alas, the defensive center can score some points offensively. He is two seasons removed from a 54 point year and three years from a 60 point campaign. Since then he has combined for just 52 points in his last 138 contests. Plekanec’s shot rate is still respectable at just over two and he is creating chances despite his 41% offensive zone utilization.
His shooting percentage may see a bit of a boost. The last two seasons have averaged to around 6%. Consider the forward’s career number is close to 10% and maybe a bounce back is in order. Toronto scores at a much better rate and Plekanec will be surrounded by more talented forwards.
Possession numbers are intriguing as well. Despite a more defensive role, Plekanec had managed to stay around Montreal’s possession average and slightly above at times. Shot suppression is average but competition has been among the toughest in the league. Given his surrounding linemates at times, that was an impressive feat. For 35 years old, the center still has some speed in those legs. He will need that with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Potential Pairings And More
A key point in all of this is to consider the injury to Auston Matthews. He will be out 2-4 weeks with what is believed to be a second-degree shoulder separation according to Nick Kypreos. This will push each center up one so Plekanec may even see a little power play time with a bit of a top-six role.
That should mean a boost in production for the short term until Matthews returns. Even after that, again the Maple Leafs are an upgrade, in a playoff race to advance position, and this will give Plekanec a boost. No one likes to play for a losing team which is the most obvious statement. However, as cliched as it may be, Plekanec never wavered. His four points in the last five games might be a precursor to more offense.
For Montreal, the second round pick is a big piece. They now have four of them in the 2018 draft. This gives Marc Bergevin the option to trade upward. Toronto still has more than enough picks themselves. That is significant here as the “Shannaplan” takes shape. Toronto now has a couple months to convince Plekanec this is the place for him.