Noel Acciari has played like a beast on the Maple Leafs fourth line since being traded to Toronto ahead of the NHL trade deadline. The 31-year-old center has scored three times and brought a new level of physicality to the Leafs' forward depth.
OMAR: So the new guys, let's focus on Jake McCabe. We'll talk about Sam Lafferty. Noel Acciari has been a beast, definition beast. If you open up the dictionary and look up "beast," you'll see noun, and then you'll see a picture of Noel Acciari's face holding a cookie.
He has taken the Leafs' bottom six, the fourth line in particular, and has given them a face and a name and an identity. They are heavy. They play hard against the boards. They fight for pucks. They win battles.
And again, Noel Acciari is the leading focus of it. And it's incredible. I don't think, in my lifetime-- maybe, I don't know-- that I've noticed a Leafs fourth line center be this impactful continuously and not just because of the rough stuff and the intangibles and the intimidating factor, which is awesome, by the way.
He keeps both his teammates and the opposition honest. No one's messing with anyone when Acciari's on the ice. But the goals are coming as well. He can finish on goals. And it's not just only the random scuffles and you hit a loose puck. He can actually bury some goals, which has been and will be an important thing moving forward because, yes, the Leafs have their skill talent.
They have their elite finishers, Mitch Marner just destroying goalies. We have those players. But when it's all said and done, you also do need the players that, again, can set the tone, set the tone early, and work, grind, and just frustrate the opposition.
And Noel Acciari has done that since he's became a Leaf. So I think, yeah, definitely, we should focus on the Ryan O'Reilly trades, and we should focus on the Jake McCabe aspect of it. But Noel Acciari has been a silent but loud hero for the Leafs. And again, I think this might end up becoming one of Kyle Dubas's best trades, and again, not just because of Ryan O'Reilly.