Arguably one of Toronto’s most versatile players, the striker has been at the center of much speculation as the club reached its annual deadline for joining the NHL’s salary cap.
With one year left on a contract that carries a $3.5 million salary cap, dealing with the possibility of a move can be stressful enough on its own. But ending his season with two costly mistakes certainly doesn’t make it any easier.
“You have to wash it,” he said on Friday. “The series didn’t go the way we wanted (but) once the season was over it’s over. And you just have to focus on getting better. I care a lot about this game, this sport, this team. I want to do my best for this group, and I have to keep going. Doing it day in and day out.”
The Maple Leafs were 3-2 ahead in their best of seven series with the Tampa Bay Lightning with a chance to win a playoff tour for the first time since 2004.
With the match tied 0-0 late in the first half, Kerfoot turned the ball back into his own area during the penetration. None of his teammates were there to pick it up. This led to a goal without the help of Ondrej Palat.
Later in the match with his team 3-2 and in the penalty kick, Kerfoot took a heavy penalty that knocked two men down in the middle of the third game.
Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov equalized at that opportunity before teammate Brayden Point won the match in overtime.
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“I mean my feelings weren’t great, you never want to be on that side of things,” said Kervut. “It’s different in a team sport than it is in an individual sport because in an individual sport you can live with these mistakes a little bit easier because it’s all on you.
“In team sport, if you make a mistake like that, it affects the group, it affects your organization and it affects the fan base that cares a lot about that team.”
During the off season, Maple Leafs general manager Kyle Dupas has chosen to keep his roster mostly intact. While many players have left for free agency, everyone who was under contract with the club has remained until now.
It’s an ongoing support after the Leafs achieved the highest franchise levels (115) and win (54).
“A regular season doesn’t mean anything, does it? It does,” Kervot said. “We’ve won a lot of games in the last two years. We’ve proven that we can play against teams. It’s hard to win the playoff series in this league. We know that better than anyone at the moment.”
Kerfoot’s versatility will count once again as the club tries to figure out what his last six players will look like when the regular season begins on October 12. .
The Leafs also used Carefoot in the first line with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner for a brief period when Michael Ponting missed through injury.
Pierre Ingval is currently out with a foot injury and is expected to be re-evaluated on October 3.
And there is a salary cap, which will also determine the shape of the team.
“We still have a lot of competition here and that speaks to the depth we’ve built,” said Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. “There are players who have made progress at the NHL level and guys like (Adam) Judit and (Nicholas) Obi Kopel coming here and they have something to prove.
“It’s a good mix along the way and there are many locations available and the salary cap will play a role in how things go.”