When people grumble about the jungle of Vancouver forwards that didn’t do much of anything to move the needle this season, Josh Leivo’s name usually doesn’t come up.
It’s not that the forward—who came over in a trade from the Toronto Maple Leafs during the season—was especially effective. In fact, his point totals weren’t anything special at all.
He had 18 points in 49 games with Vancouver, good for 12th on the team. Though, it should be noted that no one above him on that list played less games.
But the impression made directly after the deal with the Leafs was strong. He scored five points in the nine games after the transaction. And much of that was done playing with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser on the team’s top line.
Leivo didn’t look out of place and actually added a strong forechecking component and puck-battling prowess that seemed to be a great combination with the skills of Pettersson and Boeser.
And it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that, despite a dry spell points-wise to end the year, Leivo would be back with the Canucks. Management always seemed content with his play and, of course, they liked the optics of getting an asset for basically nothing (he was traded for AHLer Michael Carcone).
He also posted solid underlying numbers, registering the best Corsi Relative of anyone on the team who played more than 10 games.
So the Canucks getting Leivo at $1.5 million on a one-year deal is a solid piece of work for the club.
It’s funny, usually we’re tearing into the club for signing contracts that are too long and sure to look like giant albatrosses in due time. But here, it really feels like Leivo’s deal could have been a tad longer (two years perhaps).
That would probably come with a higher average salary, but that might be a risk the Canucks could take for a forward that, even when he wasn’t scoring, was pretty effective.
We still don’t know exactly where Leivo fits on the Canucks’ roster (is he a good match with Horvat and Pearson, or will he be playing a bottom-six role?), but we do know that he, unlike some of the team’s other forwards, deserves to be here.
It’s a solid contract as Leivo bets on himself and the Canucks take another year to see where he fits in the larger picture going forward. The only worry is that Leivo, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next year, plays well enough to earn a large raise and prices himself out of Vancouver.
Follow @ncaddell on Twitter