Tyler Ennis was recently bought out by the Minnesota Wild, but has now found another home. The Toronto Maple Leafs announced a one-year $650K contract for the diminutive veteran, bringing him in to add some depth to the bottom-half of their lineup.
Ennis, 28, was once an extremely effective player for the Buffalo Sabres, scoring at least 20 goals on three different occasions. The 5’9″ forward doesn’t have a fearful bone in his body, and played bigger than he was by digging hard in the corners and driving hard towards the net. Unfortunately, those kind of plays caught up with his small frame and he has struggled through concussion and groin injuries the last few seasons, while being included as a salary dump by one team and bought out a year later by another. He’ll earn more than $2.4MM over the next two seasons from Minnesota thanks to that buyout, making this new deal seem extremely reasonable for the Maple Leafs.
It is reasonable for Toronto, given that they are rarely worried about actual salary commitments and instead are always dealing with the cap ceiling. For a team that still has plenty of room this summer to make another big splash—even after handing $11MM to John Tavares—Ennis represents a cheap addition that could provide big results. Even last season playing limited minutes in Minnesota Ennis scored 22 points and was a fairly useful player, but the Wild couldn’t afford to keep his $4.6MM cap hit on the books as they look to figure out a way to push past the first round.
For the Maple Leafs, he’ll join players like Josh Jooris, Par Lindholm, Josh Leivo and even maybe Connor Brown in a fourth-line group that could be rotated around for much of the season. Ennis could even provide an option on the powerplay, though Toronto has plenty of talented options to use in that situation. The fact that he’s not a penalty killer will likely hurt his ice time considerably, given that the fourth line won’t be playing a ton for the Maple Leafs this season.