The Toronto Maple Leafs were one the biggest surprise teams last season, due in large part to the depth of young talent they have up front. Having that much depth can lead to some tough roster decisions, and may even leave some players not getting the ice time they need to flourish. Josh Leivo falls into that category, and realizes his best opportunity to grow his career is with another team. So far in his short tenure, Leivo has never played more than 13 games in a season with collective a total of 53. This means that when it comes to player evaluation, much will have to be speculation and the eye test to have faith in his potential.
Leivo is only 24-years old with a minimum NHL contract, so it wouldn’t be much of a financial risk. What you look for in young players is their ability to self-evaluate and adjust their game according to the competition level, which Leivo has achieved. In year two, Leivo registered 73 points in 66 games, including 32 goals. He has tremendous playmaking ability, and doesn’t need the puck to create plays. If he can add a little more muscle to his 6’2” frame, Leivo could be a very consistent force on the wing. His gritty nose for the net also makes him a strong presence on the power play, something that could certainly boost New Jersey’s special teams.
I don’t think it would be all that expensive to acquire him either, considering the Leafs just traded Nikita Soshnikov to the St Louis Blues for just a fourth-round pick. If you take some of the rumors about him demanding a trade into consideration with the fact he hasn’t played a game since New Year’s Eve, I could see Lou giving his former team a favorable deal on another talented young forward.