The Maple Leafs are in the market for affordable and effective depth additions and have already made several today. Add another to the list in veteran defenseman Kevin Gravel. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reports that Gravel will sign a one-year, one-way $700K contract with Toronto, where he could fight for a starting role on a unit going through a major overhaul.
The Maple Leafs blue line will look almost completely different next season, with only Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and Travis Dermott returning from the regular group. Even Dermott likely won’t be healthy enough to contribute for the first month of the season, leaving plenty of room to compete for playing time. With newcomers Tyson Barrie and Cody Ceci likely locked into spots on the right side, the bottom pairing is up for grabs at the moment in a competition between Gravel, Ben Harpur, Martin Marincin and Justin Holl, none of whom should be considered completely out of the fight.
The 27-year old Gravel played 36 games for the Edmonton Oilers last season, but recorded just three points in a limited role. In 106 NHL games, mostly with the Los Angeles Kings, Gravel has been a very low-impact player, quietly soaking up between 12-15 minutes a night with very little happening. That might be exactly what the Leafs are after from a 6-7 defenseman, though there certainly isn’t a lot of upside to be found.