The question I have for Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans is whether Josh Ho-Sang is this season’s Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk started his NHL career with the Montreal Canadiens, then began his nomadic NHL travels, until he almost finally hit the end of the line. When he passed through waivers towards the beginning of the 2020-21 season, he was picked up by the Maple Leafs.
Having passed through waivers already, the Maple Leafs pounced as they often do – always looking for a home run by taking a chance on what was seen as an ubertalented NHL player who’s hit close to the bottom and has only one way to go – and, that’s up. Galchenyuk came to the Maple Leafs, worked hard, went to the minors, then came to the big club and had a decent-enough season. He’s now somewhere out there seeking a bigger contract than last season’s $1.05 million.
Is Josh Ho-Sang on the Same Path?
When the Maple Leafs offered Josh Ho-Sang a PTO at the beginning of the 2021 free agent frenzy, that gave the 28th overall choice from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft a chance to showcase his skills. And the Maple Leafs might just be the best place for him to engage in that process. First, it’s an organization that – as I noted before with Galchenyuk – always seems to have a history of giving players a new chance at a life in the NHL.
Second, the Maple Leafs are an organization with a gaping hole at left-wing on either of the top two lines. Really, it’s a dream for anyone with a lot of skill. A player with some drive could simply come in and shine. We know that Ho-Sang has the skill. What we don’t know is whether he has the drive. Should he come in like Galchenyuk did last season, he’d have a golden chance to revitalize his career.
Given what we’ve seen thus far, Ho-Sang seems to have the potential: he’s showed that skill a few seasons ago. It could be a marriage made in heaven. But the operative word is “could.”
Will Ho-Sang Take Advantage?
Ho-Sang’s signing as a PTO means that he has to earn a contract with the organization. And, if he works to gain the confidence and trust of the coaching staff and the organization – both of whom will be looking to see if he’s willing to build on his natural gifts, there are two ways his PTO could work.
First, if he’s good enough, he might actually earn a spot at the left-wing on either of the top two lines with Auston Matthews or John Tavares as his centers. Second, and perhaps more likely, he might not earn a Maple Leafs’ roster spot line during the preseason. However, if he makes a good impression, Ho-Sang could sign a two-way contract to become this season’s Galchenyuk. Should that be the case, he’d have the chance to work with one of the best player-development staffs in the NHL.
Given that the Maple Leafs have really nothing to lose, he could begin a path – short or long – moving towards growing into that more-complete player who could actually earn a big contract in the NHL.
There’s Few Places Better than Toronto to Re-start a Career
Having watched the hirings that the Maple Leafs’ organization made this season in it’s coaches – Ryan Hardy, Dean Chynoweth, and Spencer Carbery, I think Maple Leafs’ fans should know that each one of these new coaches brings a player-development background to the work. In short, this is a good organization for Ho-Sang to have landed in. If he wants a second chance, the entire organization seems dedicated to making that happen.
What we know is that Ho-Sang has the offensive skill-set to be an everyday player. How he found himself where he is – at a serious ebb of morale and options – who knows. His NHL playing days were in serious jeopardy of ending; and, perhaps they still are.
Maple Leafs’ fans have to hope that Ho-Sang’s game can experience a renaissance. If it does, the Maple Leafs would have gained a skilled and speedy play-maker with good puck retrieval. Oh, by the way, fans know how well puck retrieval can work on the Matthews and Marner line (thinking Zach Hyman).
As Dubas noted, the organization has nothing to lose. However, it does have a lot to gain. So, too, does Ho-Sang himself. Two questions: can he see that? And, can he take advantage?
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