Given the Mitch Marner contract, carrying Ceci at $4.5 is not just untenable, it might be actively dumb. Time to make a trade.
Toronto Maple Leafs and Julias Honka
Julius Honka is a former first round pick (2014) 14th overall. He had his ELC slide twice, and it just expired last year. He is an RFA in need of a new deal, but it won’t be one for $4.5 million, since he’s yet to establish himself as an NHL regular.
He has three years of NHL experience, but he keeps going back and forth between the AHL and NHL, and 42 games is the most he has had.
He also hasn’t scored much, just 13 points in 87 games.
So: he isn’t established, he hasn’t put up big numbers, and he needs a new deal, but now he’s asked for a trade. This is the prefect opportunity for the Toronto Maple Leafs, because Honka is a talented player, he’s right handed, and he has a history of putting up good stats at the NHL level, even if the counting totals have been less than inspiring.
According to the Athletic, Honka was available for a third-round pick this summer and there were no takers. The Leafs should pay that price, or something comprable, then try to sign him for a one year “show me deal.” If Honka shows them, next year, when they have more money and a need for defensemen, they can work out a longer term deal.
Here is why:
1. According to his RAPM chart, Honka was a positive impact defender in each of his three NHL seasons. (evolving hockey.com)
2. In his last 71 games, Honka has been a 51% CF, 53% shot and 55% scoring-chance player. Good numbers for sure. (naturalstattrick.com).
3. His most common three defense partners: Stephen Johns, Essa Lindell and Roman Polak. They are all bad players, and they all did better with Honka than without him.
Given that he has been available for a while, it seems like Honka would be cheap. He has put up excellent stats in the NHL and is a very talented, puck moving defenseman who is also right handed.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have an obvious need at his position, and if they could get someone to take Cody Ceci’s contract, they’d improve their team and salary cap position at the same time.