It appears Toronto will no longer try and punch its way to victory.
On Monday, the Leafs put veteran tough guys Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren on waivers, a significant shift in philosophy from a team that once prided itself on “pugnacity, testosterone, truculence.”
Orr, 32, was arguably the poster boy for ex-GM Brian Burke’s pugnacious approach. He averaged two points, five minutes TOI per game and 11 fights annually during his five-year stint in Toronto, racking up over 600 PIM.
McLaren, 26, was claimed off waivers shortly into the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and proceeded to fight 21 times over parts of two seasons, appearing in 62 games all told.
In other moves today, Toronto put German rearguard Korbinian Holzer on waivers — meaning 21-year-old (and ’11 first-rounder) Stuart Percy made the team as the seventh defenseman; the Leafs also re-assigned Swedish wunderkind William Nylander to either the AHL or Sweden (the club hasn’t yet decided where the eighth overall pick at this year’s draft will play.)
While all of today’s moves hold significance, many will point to the Orr and McLaren moves as further evidence of Toronto adopting a more “modern” approach to the game. Their dedication to analytics and progressive statistical research is well documented; now, it appears they’re utilizing that information and approach to remake the roster and use more skilled, versatile players in the bottom six forward group — as opposed to guys that are primarily out there to fight and intimidate.