On Monday the Leafs struck a deal with the Winnipeg Jets that shipped Par Lindholm out of town, and brought in 23 year old left winger/centreman Nic Petan. It's a move that may be a little bit confusing for some fans given the depth of the Leafs offence, but it could prove to be a solid pick up down the stretch for the Leafs.
If you don't already know about Petan, he was the Jets second round pick in the 2013 NHL draft. A highly touted prospect coming into the NHL, the young winger was slotted low on the Jets depth chart and was never given much of a chance to produce. He's only appeared in 28 games in the last two seasons and only netted four points (two goals, two assists) in those games.
He was a weapon with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL however. In his last three seasons in Portland Petan averaged 1.71 points per game and was plus 156. Because of that scoring touch, Petan was drafted in the second round, and named to Team Canada in both the 2014 and 2015 IIHF World Junior championship.
In those two tournaments, Petan scored a modest five points in seven games on a disappointing 2014 team; just one year later, however, he finished tied with Connor McDavid and Sam Reinhart for the team lead with 11 points, en route to a gold medal.
He's joining a Leafs team that is very clearly an offensive juggernaut this season, leading the league in 5v5 scoring by a large number for most of this season. Unfortunately, he once again remains in a bit of a roster crunch with the recent call up of Trevor Moore, the early season success of Tyler Ennis, the recent emergence of Freddy Gauthier, and the loyalty to Connor Brown.
With this roster however, if he's handed some playing time, then Leafs fans should hope for a Dylan Strome-esque resurgence that sees Petan return to his former high-scoring major junior performance.
Above all else, this move comes with a little more control for Kyle Dubas and the rest of the Maple Leafs organization. While Par Lindholm was a more than serviceable fourth liner for the Leafs, he was also an unrestricted free agent this year and would likely command more than he was making this season. Petan, meanwhile, will be a restricted free agent come season's end, and is unlikely to command very much money on his next contract.
While this may not be the move most Leafs fans were looking for, the future hasn't been altered in any way to bring in a rental for one year and that should be looked at as a success. If the stars align and everything falls in the Leafs favour, then this move could prove very useful for the Leafs fourth line.