Thursday, May 28, 2015
Authors Posts by Aaron Chan

Aaron Chan

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A graduate student at Columbia University, Aaron is defined by a love of nature, an intense interest in finance, and a passion for the Blue & White. Toronto born and raised, earliest Leaf memories include emulating Joe Bowen calls and carpet mini-stick during HNIC. Former D1 NCAA Tennis player. Aaron can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mapleleafmuse.

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I don’t want to belabor what’s already been talked about last night but what in high hell was that?!

As I’m sure most fans are doing these days, I’ve been incessantly checking the Eastern Conference standings just to get a snapshot of what the current match-ups are and to make guesses about how things might shake-out. Following last night’s confounding loss, and before I lost my cool, I noticed something interesting about the recent records of the Eastern Conference playoff teams. In particular, if you combined the records of these playoffs teams’ most recent games against non-playoff teams, you’ll find that they’ve gone a dismal 1-5-1 against non-playoff teams. The list of playoffs teams that have played, and lost, their most recent games against a non-playoff team include the Penguins, Bruins, Canadiens, Leafs, Islanders, and Rangers. Now, this stat isn’t meant to absolve the Leafs of an unacceptable performance against the Lighting, however it appears that they are not alone in their struggles to finish strong despite meagre competition.

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Those of you who know me, or follow me on twitter (@mapleleafmuse), will know that I’m a bit of a podcast addict. Apart from the mainstream media stuff, I also love listening to fan-made content and in case you have yet to do so, I invite you all to check out Leaf Matters with Matteo and Michael. They’ve had some excellent guests and offer an alternative source for Leafs fans looking for informative, well-articulated, and lively discussions on all things Leafs.

On Monday April 22nd, 2013, Brian Burke took some time out of his busy schedule as a scout for the Anaheim Ducks and joined Chris Nilan, a former NHL enforcer, on TSN 690 Montreal to talk about the Leafs’ playoff clinch and the Montreal Canadiens’ recent struggles. Below is a slightly-shortened transcript I put together of the interview. If you want to hear the full 10-minute interview, it’s available at the TSN Podcast Centre.

A couple of days ago, I had a pretty interesting conversation with @Dudgee (solid MLHS guy, give him a follow) when he first stated that he thought the Leafs brass should withhold judgement on Kessel and Bozak until we see them in the playoffs. This got me thinking, because Bozak is due for an extension and Kessel is going into the final year of his contract, ultimately with the prospects of a massive raise from his current $5.400mn salary. So I wondered – is Bozak destined to simply be a rental player for the Leafs during the playoffs, or is there anything he can do to solidify himself as a key cog in the organization?

Judging from most of the stuff I’ve heard on Twitter, if seems like the  masses are ready to dispose of Bozak, and I wanted to reach out to our writers to see what they thought. From my side, regardless of whether Bozak stays, or not, the situation at centre will change – with Kadri’s ascension and Grabovski’s sub-optimization – and this summer could mark the beginnings of the organization’s intense search for a #1 Centre, which is key to turning the Leafs into a better possession team.

Toronto Maple Leafs forwards Alexander Mogilny, left, and Gary Roberts stand dejected at the bench after their Game 6 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in their Eastern Conference semifinal in 2004, the last year the Leafs made the playoffs. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

In case you missed it, here’s mORRganRielly‘s excellent Game in 22.

What a heart-breaker that was.

Trade Deadline 2013 is in the books. The Kiprusoff scare is over.  Leafs are still 5th in the East.

“Sometimes the best moves are the ones you don’t make.”-Anthony Petrielli -(@APetrielli)

For those of you who missed it and were doing something productive, yesterday’s experience reminded me of a famous quote once uttered by an esteemed San Diegan news anchor. In what started off as an eerily quiet and inauspicious morning, things quickly turned into a maelstrom towards the end of the deadline at 3pm. I usually go solo on this piece but given the magnitude of the Trade Deadline, I opted to enlist the help of some of MLHS’ great writers for thoughts on what transpired yesterday.  We’ve got you covered.

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WOW. What a turn of events in the Iginla sweepstakes. Mid-way through writing this piece, I paused to check for updates on Twitter and in an instant, Iginla had gone from a Bruin to a Penguin. Going back the other way to Calgary are college prospects Kenneth Agostino (20, LW), Ben Hanowski (22, LW), and Pittsburgh’s 2013 1st-round draft pick. From the outset, Feaster isn’t getting much credit for the return he’s getting but, it appears that Pittsburgh was Iginla’s call. Per Elliote Friedman:

When faced with such a tectonic move, my first instinct is to take a breath and look at it from 30,000 feet – to try and take the broad level view. I asked myself, how does this change the competitive landscape of the East Conference? How does this move affect the Leafs? Who are the winners and losers of the trade? Will Iginila thrive under Dan Bylsma’s system? Where does Iginila fit in the line-up, and what of his role? At the surface level, the Pens’ active roster stays intact and get an infusion of leadership, class, skill, and toughness. Ray Shero is really going all-in here and the proposition of lining up Crosby and Iginla is a terrifying proposition, just ask Ryan Miller. In the coming days, I’m sure these questions will be addressed by the mainstream media and by members of the blogosphere.

This is a different kind of piece.

Before you read on, I submit this for your consideration:

For those of you who are unable to watch the video, it contains a segment from the Colbert Report, and it features a 13-minute montage of blatant Bostonian hypocrisy.

As I’m sure many Leaf fans were when they heard that Iginla was headed to Boston, I experienced some strong mixed-emotions. On the one hand, here you have a player who epitomizes class and leadership. On the other hand, he was headed to a hypocritical and dirty organization like Boston. If what Friedman said is true, then good on Jarome. Now, I am not privy to his decision-making process but I sure hope he considered the collective character of the organizations he was looking to join, along with, ultimately, the prospects of winning a Stanley Cup.

Iginla’s press conference is set for 10:30am (MT) and certainly lends itself to a tearful farewell. He has been the face of the franchise for the past 15 seasons and became the city’s beloved son. The loyalty he showed the Flames is quite remarkable, even despite the lack of talent and recent managerial gaffes. Adam Proteau, from The Hockey News, puts it best:

In the end, Jarome Iginla deserved better than Boston, and I believe he made the right decision. As a hockey fan, I wish Jarome nothing but success and the best of luck in Pittsburgh.

Just a quick note on the Leafs.

Much has been made of the team’s relative success during the past 5 games (3-0-2) and many cited the home-and-home series with Boston as a test of sorts. Needless to say, the Leafs get more than a passing grade for their effort and surely surprised a lot of people. However, looking forward, I would argue that the next 6 games might be even more important than the past 5.

Including tonight’s bout against the Hurricanes (32pts -10th), the Leafs will face-off against the Senators (42 pts – 5th), Flyers (28 pts – 14th), and Devils (37 pts – 7th) once, and the Rangers (35 pts – 8th) twice. Essentially, 5 of the next 6 games will be against teams that are either in the race, or are within striking distance of the Leafs. Herein lies a crucial opportunity for the Leafs to expand their lead over lesser teams. If they can come out of the next 6 games with at least 8 points, for a total of 48 points, it sets them up nicely for the final 8 games of the season.

Thursday Morning Links

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Photo: Michael Peake/Toronto Sun

Before we get to this morning’s thoughts and links, I just wanted to thank everyone for the feedback and well wishes. I’ve been a reader of MLHS since late 2009 and it truly is an honor to write for this awesome blog community.

First things first, here’s the tweet we’ve all seen by now from Ben Hankinson, Jake Gardiner’s agent from Octagon Sports Management, who sent this out as the Leafs were losing to the Winnipeg Jets:

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Last night’s 5-4 nail-biting win over the Sens further fanned the fires of the current “debate” on the role of fighting in the Leafs’ mid-season success. In case you haven’t seen it already, here’s the video of the KO McLaren delivered on Dziurzynski.  It seems like McLaren only grazes him but given the speed at which these guys are throwing down, what’s a chin to a flying fist (or sheet of ice).

Kessel also came out with his second 3-point night of the season and generally looked to have given a 200 ft. effort, along with 5 SOG. Nazem Kadri meanwhile continues to roll and shows no signs of stopping. The imminent return of fellow Marlies graduate, Matt Frattin, should have fans pretty excited since prior to Frattin’s injury, Kadri had assisted on 4 of Frattin’s 7 goals. Hopefully, the two youngsters can pick up close to where they left off as Toronto will be facing some tougher competition in the remaining 12 games in March, including two dates with the Penguins and three against the Bruins.

In other news, the most recent installment of TSN’s TradeCentre listed Bozak and MacArthur as viable trade candidates. With Stephen Weiss out for the remainder of the season, you’d have to imagine that Bozak moves up on the list of available centremen. MacArthur’s upcoming UFA status and recent performance also makes him a prime trade target with Lupul returning and if Frattin continues to show he’s the real deal. No matter where he ends up, he’ll likely get a raise on his current $3.25mm salary but in the meantime, I’m not averse to expanding his value by having him ride Kadri’s coattails.

Another point on Kadri. I recently did an NHL impact analysis of top-10 CHL defensemen in scoring and found that Morgan Rielly had big shoes to fill. I then decided to perform a similar analysis for forwards and remembered that Kadri had actually finished 5th in OHL scoring during the 2009-2010 season with 93 points. While Kadri is performing at a tidy 1.00 point-per-game pace, and could be considered for an All-Star berth had there been an All-Star game, he was left out of the study sample because draftees typically need a couple of years before they can make an impact at the NHL level.  Therefore, I only looked at forwards from 1999 to 2008.  Below is one of the charts from the follow-on analysis. Some of  Kadri’s predecessors include the likes of Patrick Kane, John Tavares, Corey Perry, and Steven Stamkos. Check out the piece to see how the WHL and QMJHL fared during the same time period.

OHL
Click to enlarge.

Thursday Morning Links:

Michael Stephens’ Game In 10

1967ers: On Fighting – They don’t make them like they used to. Great piece by 1967ers (PPP) on a time when fighters weren’t one-dimensional.

Blue Chip Prospects: Reimer Up to Some Autobotian Heroics – Would you stick with Reimer-Scrivens or give Reimer some veteran support for next season?

Hope_Smoke: MacArthur Odd Man Out – Buy Low, Sell High, says Hope Smoke.

Vintage Leaf Memories: Respect Alfredsson – I grew up on the Leafs-Sens playoff series and learned to hate Alfie. However, Michael Langlois, over at VLM, makes the point: “there’s something to be said for honouring a worthy opponent, too” ala Vince Vaughan in Anchorman.