The Toronto Maple Leafs have added a Randy Carlyle-type player just in time for their playoff drive.
Leafs GM Dave Nonis finished off a quiet trade deadline day on Wednesday by shipping a 2014 fourth-round pick to the Colorado Avalanche near the 3 p.m. deadline in exchange for Ryan O’Byrne, a 28-year-old right-handed blueliner who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
O’Byrne, a Victoria native, is huge at 6-foot-5 and 240 pounds and generally plays a simple shutdown game.
His best season recently was 2010-11 alongside Leafs defenceman John-Michael Liles when both were together in Colorado, and it’s expected that pairing will be reunited in Toronto.
O’Bryne can also kill penalties and fight, much like current Leafs defenceman Mark Fraser and much to the liking of Carlyle, who likely saw him play in the Western Conference quite a bit.
His arrival likely means that Jake Gardiner and Mike Kostka have a much harder time getting into the lineup.
The Leafs went into the deadline searching for both a veteran goaltender and depth on defence but came away with only one of those desires filled after Calgary Flames netminder Miikka Kiprusoff chose not to leave and the asking price for Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo was still too high.
Here’s a closer look at some advanced statistics related to O’Byrne over the past five seasons. Detailed explanations of their meaning are available at behindthenet.ca:
Basically, the last three years in Colorado, the coaching staff has been using O’Byrne in fairly difficult minutes, playing him against first and second lines and often in the defensive zone. Possession wise (Corsi Rel), he has had middling success, with his numbers in the red the most the last two seasons as he and the Avs have struggled.
The other thing worth noting is that he takes quite a few minor penalties given his ice time, which is another sign he’s being beaten by some of those offensive players.
In a depth role, as a fifth or sixth defenceman, O’Byrne may be fine, especially if he regains some of his chemistry with Liles. They played roughly 60 per cent of their minutes together in what looks like O’Byrne’s best season.
At the very least, he gives Toronto some injury insurance going into the playoffs. The Leafs have been remarkably lucky with injuries on the back end this season and that may not continue the rest of the way.
O’Byrne does have 300 games regular-season and 19 games playoff experience, which is a lot more than at least three members of Toronto’s current blueline (Fraser, Gardiner and Kostka).