The Toronto Maple Leafs have added some toughness to the roster, signing Kurtis Gabriel to a one-year deal worth $750K. The team has also signed David Kampf to a two-year contract with an average annual value of $1.5MM. James Mirtle of The Athletic adds that the team has also signed Alex Biega and Carl Dahlstrom, while extending a professional tryout agreement to Joshua Ho-Sang.
None of these are game-changing names for the Maple Leafs, but at least one of them has a chance to play every night. Kampf was specifically mentioned by GM Kyle Dubas as a player the team has been targeting for a while, likely thanks to his defensive contributions at the center ice position. One thing the Maple Leafs have been dearly missing over the last few seasons is a true center who can penalty kill and in Kampf they’ve found their answer. The 26-year-old was left unqualified by the Chicago Blackhawks and the Maple Leafs snatched him up for a not-insignificant cap hit. He’ll likely start the year as the team’s fourth-line center.
Gabriel, a 6’4″ enforcer from the San Jose Sharks, will certainly raise some eyebrows on a contract with Toronto, given the way their team is usually perceived. The Maple Leafs have been adding more and more toughness over the last few years by bringing in names like Wayne Simmonds and Zach Bogosian, but now have decided to sign a player that doesn’t really bring much else. The 28-year-old Gabriel has just 49 games in his NHL career but has racked up 153 penalty minutes, including 15 fighting majors. Even though he’s recorded just five NHL points, he could very well be on the roster to add some bite to the fourth line on specific nights.
Biega and Dahlstrom bring some defensive depth to the organization, but neither one figures to be a full-time member of the NHL roster. It’s Ho-Sang that will draw the most attention of the last three. The 25-year-old was a first-round pick in 2014 and has put up strong offensive totals in the minor leagues. There was also a public falling out with his management with the New York Islanders, leading to a split and essentially an end to his NHL career. After playing the 2020-21 season on loan in Sweden, Ho-Sang became a Group VI unrestricted free agent. If he can’t land a contract with the Maple Leafs out of camp, it seems likely that he’ll never have another chance.