On Monday, The Fourth Period’s David Pagnotta released an article reporting on available free agents and the teams interested in them. Among them, the Leafs were featured as a team interested in forward Trevor Lewis.
Who is Trevor Lewis
Drafted 17th overall in 2006, Trevor Lewis has spent the last 12 seasons as a solid bottom-six centre/winger with the Los Angeles Kings, playing 674 games with the organization.
In Los Angeles, Lewis carved a role out for himself, usually appearing on the 4th line. With the Kings, he won two Stanley Cups, one in 2012 and one in 2014. He has the potential to bring Stanley Cup pedigree to a team that needs it, also boasting a career 79 games in the playoffs.
Trevor Lewis Scouting Report
Trevor Lewis is an interesting hockey player. He’s solid defensively, his good defensive instincts make him a great option in a depth role. Despite his age and role as more of a checking forward, Lewis is still a surprisingly good skater. This aids a lot with his biggest strength: His work ethic.
As a bottom-six player, Lewis is able to use his smarts and work ethic to out-hustle other players for the puck. This comes in handy offensively and defensively. Offensively, Lewis is able to win battles and get through players, getting around the opponent to make a play. He gets a lot of “garbage” goals and assists from this, but it still makes him a threat from the fourth line.
Defensively, it’s also a strength. Along with his notably good defensive instincts, he has the will to get into the “dirty” areas. Lewis is able to fight for loose pucks and limit chances for the opposing team.
While his offensive totals have dipped, Lewis has consistently posted double-digits in points, even as Los Angeles has gotten worse over recent years. In LA, Lewis also saw time on the PK, although not a significant among, averaging just under a minute of PK time per night.
He’s also shown flashes of skill, but it’s usually just that, a flash. It’s more prominent in lower levels, but I’ll get into that a little later.
I’ve focused mostly on the good here, but the reality is that Trevor Lewis isn’t some elite forward, and if the Leafs sign him, he’s not going to be that.
Over the years, Lewis has played less and less at centre. He’s never been a faceoff man, hitting a 38.8% faceoff rate last season. His ice time has dropped. Even with the rebuilding Kings, Lewis averaged just shy of 12 minutes of ice time per game last season.
No matter which NHL team he chooses, Lewis will likely be a rotating taxi squad player, so as intriguing as he is as an option, it’s also important to temper expectations on him.
The Fit for the Leafs
I think there are two big pieces to this. The first is where you’d think a guy like Lewis fits with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
If you see him as a taxi squad player or a rotating NHLer, then here’s what you’re dealing with. The Leafs already have roughly eight forwards fighting for four spots on a day-to-day basis. Those players would be Jason Spezza, Jimmy Vesey, Wayne Simmonds, Nicholas Robertson, Pierre Engvall, Travis Boyd, Alexander Barabanov, and Denis Malgin. Not to mention guys who will fight for NHL games, such as Nic Petan, Joey Anderson, Kenny Agostino, and Adam Brooks. With only so many NHL spots and a limited number of Taxi Squad spots, where does Trevor Lewis fit?
And that brings us to the second piece. Where a guy like Lewis is signed with the idea of going to the Marlies. Lewis has starred at levels lower than the NHL, be it the USHL (2006 USHL Player of the Year), the OHL (73 points in 62 games one year after being drafted), the World Championship (2nd most points on Team USA in 2015), the ECHL (9 points in 6 games during the lockout in 2012), or, most importantly, the AHL, where he scored 51 points at 21 years old. While he hasn’t played in the AHL in eleven years, it’s safe to say that because he’s been successful there at a younger age, he could be a nice option for the Marlies.
However, the Marlies already have a group of veterans. In the AHL, there’s a development rule (so teams focus more on younger players than stacking up on proven veterans). The rule means that teams can only dress five veterans (not including goalies) in a game. A veteran is defined by the AHL as a player that has played in 260 or more professional hockey games. AHL teams must dress 12 players that have played in 260 or fewer professional hockey games and one that must have played in 320 or fewer professional hockey games.
The Toronto Marlies currently have seven veterans under contract: Kenny Agostino, Nic Petan, Tyler Gaudet, Rich Clune, Scott Sabourin, David Warsofsky, and Calle Rosen. While it’s likely that Clune and Sabourin won’t be everyday players, it still means that the Marlies are projected to have enough veterans in their day-to-day lineup. If Lewis does slot in, who comes out? That’s probably the biggest question that the organization needs to figure out if they bring in Lewis or any other veteran for that matter.
Related: Marlies Make Splash, Sign Four
The Fit for Lewis
Pagnotta’s report also highlights that Lewis wants a shot at a third championship. All the teams interested seem like teams that believe that they’re contenders, with the Washington Capitals, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, and Pittsburgh Penguins listed as the other interested teams.
As far as fit goes, Pittsburgh may be Lewis’ best option. GM Jim Rutherford has shown a willingness to spend on players he believes will help the Pittsburgh Penguins back to the success they saw just a couple of years ago. Lewis may find it easier to beat out the likes of Colton Sceviour and Teddy Blueger for a more consistent role with the Penguins than he would on the other interested teams. However, they may not be the greatest fit for his goal to win another Cup.
Overall, it might just depend on what each team is offering Lewis. As much as I’ve written about him, it’s not like Trevor Lewis is a star free agent. The pandemic has left many fringe NHLers without a contract less than a month before training camp begins, and Lewis is no exception.
Evolving Hockey projected that Lewis would fetch just shy of $1 million earlier in the offseason, but it’s more likely that he gets closer to the league minimum of $700,000.
We just wait and see! I think the fact that the Leafs are interested in adding more free agents is interesting in itself.
The Toronto Maple Leafs are set to face the Montreal Canadiens on January 13th. Players are already flying in to begin their mandatory quarantine for training camp. It’ll definitely be an interesting season, but we’ll see how things play out!
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