The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a flurry of depth signings over the last 24 hours and odds are at least one of them is going to help Toronto Marlies in a big way if all things go as planned.
And that’s the signing of Kenny Agostino.
— Bobby Margarita (@TSNBobMcKenzie) July 1, 2019
Agostino, 27, spent the majority of his 2018-2019 campaign in the NHL, splitting his season with the Montreal Canadians and the New Jersey Devils. After recording 10 points in 12 games at the beginning of the year with the Laval Rocket, Agostino was recalled by the Canadians and fared well enough (11 points in 36 games) through his stint with the Habs that, when Montreal tried to send him back down to Laval in February, the Devils claimed him.
Agostino would make good on his opportunity with the offensively-starved Devils, tallying 13 points in 27 games (0.48 points per game) while averaging just over 15 minutes a night of ice-time.
With Agostino producing some secondary scoring at the NHL level last season, there’s certainly a risk-factor associated with whether the Leafs would be able to send him down to the Marlies, pass him through the waiver wire, and ensure he remains their’s next fall. Surely, if a team doesn’t like the make-up of their bottom-six and sees Agostino on waivers next fall, they could take a stab at him.
The reality is, however, Agostino is a tweener. He’s a “AAAA” player – the type that’s dominant at the AHL level, but just not quite good enough to be an NHL regular.
“I didn’t think he was a good enough skater to make an impact at the NHL level,” one AHL head coach told The Leafs Nation via text.
To ensure Agostino doesn’t get plucked off waivers, the Leafs flexed their financial muscle and signed him to a one-way contract that stretches beyond this season. Even if a team does experience some injury woes, it’s unlikely that they would be willing to take on Agostino and have him either with their NHL club for the next two seasons or in the minors on a one-way deal.
With that said, Agostino will more than likely be with the Marlies next season. And that’s great news for the Leafs’ AHL affiliate, as they will be getting a heck of a player to complement the development of their prospects.
Agostino’s AHL impact
Over the last five seasons, Agostino has scored at a rate of 0.90 points per game through 273 AHL games. To put that figure into perspective, 0.90 points per game, over the course of a full 76 game season, is 68 points – generally good enough to peg a player in the top-five-to-top-ten range of league scorers.
Agostino is an elite AHL talent whose game is highlighted by his offensive awareness and quick release on his shots.
“He makes a ton of plays under pressure,” a different AHL head coach told The Leafs Nation, via text.
“He’s strong on pucks in the [offensive zone], but won’t blow you away with his compete and grit.”
There are a lot of ways in which Sheldon Keefe can choose to integrate Agostino into his lineup.
With the Leafs trading Michael Carcone to the Senators yesterday morning, it would appear that there is now an opening alongside the Marlies’ most elite playmaker, 22-year-old Jeremy Bracco, that Agostino could fill quite well.
With Chris Mueller signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning organization yesterday, Bracco needs a new offensive partner. Keefe could even opt to put Agostino alongside the likes of centre prospect Adam Brooks, whose trajectory has sky-rocketed over the course of a calendar year, in an effort to give the 23-year-old forward some fire-power on his wings and spread out the Marlies’ offence.
And, who knows; maybe the Marlies land another marquee AHL talent and get even deeper.
There is still plenty of time before one can make an apt prediction of the Marlies’ depth chart, but one thing is for certain and is that if Agostino does, in fact, pass through waivers, the Marlies will have their hands on a game-changer at the AHL level.
And that’s exactly what the Leafs tried to provide the Marlies with during this years’ free agency period.