Friday, May 22, 2015
Authors Posts by Declan Kerin

Declan Kerin

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The Toronto Maple leafs (4-2-1) take on the Detroit Red Wings (3-2-1) At the Air Canada Ctr. tonight.

Both teams will be without their star players; Pavel Datsyuk and Phil Kessel will not be playing. Tyler Bozak, Cody Franson and David Clarkson are also not dressed due to injury.

Three players on the Maple Leafs that are looking to have strong games are Carter Ashton, Matt Frattin and Peter Holland. All have had quiet preseasons; Carter Ashton in particular was rumoured to be shopped by the Leafs instead of losing him for nothing to the waiver wire. Head Coach Randy Carlyle went as far as to call out Matt Frattin’s play as underwhelming. Peter Holland, while the safest of the trio, has had an underwhelming camp and has not picked up where he left off—dominating the AHL playoffs, usually being the best player on the ice in that league.

This lineup resembles something close to what the Maple Leafs will dress for the regular season.








BernierRead More: Game Review: Maple Leafs 5, Red Wings 1


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(Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs still seem to be working through systemic issues, learning new defensive and neutral zone systems, but the shots against remain a red flag.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres Player Notes

Tyler Bozak - Had an up and down first game. Bozak had three points, but he also gave up the puck in the middle of the D zone leading to a goal, and had an opportunity to make a play on another puck during a different goal against (albeit, it was a tough play and bouncing puck). Was nice to see him producing without Kessel though, and he showed some of his crafty work which can be a little underrated. He does have a deceptively good shot and elevated the puck quickly in tight to beat Neuvirth. Also threw a crisp and strong back door pass with ease, and created some turnovers leading to scoring chances.

Joffrey Lupul - Had some nice zone entries, curling up around the top of the circle and finding the open man in deep. Appears uncomfortable when he’s on the right wing and trying to pass it back to the point; when he plays his off wing he’s excellent at shielding the puck with his back and passing it to the point on his forehand. In this game, he set up Phaneuf for his goal on the left side of the ice off the cycle. His skating has been good so far and he looks strong and ready to go for the real thing.

Josh Leivo - Sent a statement tonight that he’s serious about making the opening night roster. Three points, but all in different fashions. An assist from working the cycle, an assist from working a give and go, and a goal from going to the net. Was strong on the puck along the wall in the offensive zone which allowed him to create space and opportunities, and he had some solid chip outs of the defensive zone (although he also had a nice fall leading to a long cycle for Buffalo; it happens). He didn’t look out of place in the NHL last year, set a Marlies rookie record for goals, and is having a good camp so far. One more game like that and it will be extremely hard to send him down.

Nazem Kadri - Only played 15 minutes and change. Made a nice flip pass to the point leading to a goal and created some good cycles. Frankly, it looked like a game where the Leafs wanted to get Bozak some ice time and see what Holland/Carrick could do. Kadri’s line appeared sheltered and Carlyle was (rightfully) looking at other players. Nazem’s been one of the better players on the ice in each of his first two preseason games. With Bozak looking good with Lupul and Leivo (it’s only one game), it’s time to try Kadri with Kessel again for a full preseason game and see what happens.

David Clarkson - Had a good start to the game, working the cycle and winning battles down low to not only knock the puck loose, but retrieve it all on his own, too. Went to the net and got his stick on a point shot, and overall began to play the game people expected of him. But, and there’s always a but, he fought a plug and got hurt. Now we wait to hear the aftermath of that closed eye.

William Nylander - Only played 13 minutes and wasn’t very electric, but he had his moments and didn’t make a big mistake like his backhand sauce pass against Ottawa that led to a goal. Got crunched into the boards pretty hard behind the offensive net, which we’ve seen a few times; he simply isn’t physically ready to compete with the strength and size of NHL D-men in the corners. When he gets the puck in open ice he’s still as dangerous as ever, though. Nylander has flashed enough to think that he’s going to be a productive NHLer down the road, but now isn’t his time.

Peter Holland - He has a prime opportunity to be a 3C starting game 1, and he isn’t seizing it. Didn’t make any glaring errors, but again he didn’t make impact plays showing he’s ready to go and produce. We saw this last year with Colborne, so you can’t give up on him, but he just might not be ready to produce to start the year if this continues.

Leo Komarov - Nice keep and bury on a 2v1, which we didn’t really see in his first go around on the Leafs. In his short stint in the NHL he had hands of stone, and while he isn’t suddenly skilled, his play so far suggests there’s a little more offence to be tapped. Was effective again on the penalty kill. He’s replacing Kulemin there essentially, and while he isn’t as big or as strong, he reads the game a little better and extends his stick to block off passing lanes well. Made a few nice bounce passes off the boards to get the puck to the point on the 5v5 cycle.

Brandon Kozun- Speed was noticeable; like every game he got pasted a few times and got right back up. Made a quick pass to Komarov in the neutral zone leading to a goal. Didn’t have the dominant cycle shifts that he had in previous games, and his effectiveness is starting to slow down as he plays against more and more NHLers. Komarov fed him a few poor passes when he was in mid stride streaking down the wall too, though.

Sam Carrick - Fought Chris Stewart, took a piece off of Tyler Myers then grappled with him, killed penalties, also got a good piece of Zadorov and had a nice rush in the third period creating a rebound opportunity. He did a bit of everything, and he’s really leapt off the page for one positive thing or another in all three preseason games he’s played in so far. And, maybe most importantly for the Leafs, he can play centre. Like Leivo, he’s making a case to start with the big boys.

Troy Bodie - Stride elongated today for the first time and began getting in on the forecheck. Wasn’t on the puck working the walls, which is where his game was at the end of last season. He can play an okay shift, we know that, but he isn’t doing anything to demand that he start the season in the opening 12.

Daniel Winnik - Played the type of game I’d expect from him on a nightly basis. He worked the wall a few times hard (one leading to the Polak goal), killed penalties, had a few shots on net, and took a regular shift.

Dion Phaneuf - Continued his trend of taking more wrist shots, and he scored on a nice short side snipe. Looks comfortable getting the puck in the offensive zone on his strong side, and is pinching in, which he never really did before. He led the team with 3 SOG. Noticeably playing more up tight in the neutral zone and pressuring guys. Needs to stop yelling “wheel” at his partner and instead get open to provide an outlet. Hilarious sidenote from long-time Phaneuf supporter, ‘wiski’—Dion had a Gordie Howe hat trick tonight. 

Peter Granberg - Was unfairly criticized on the McCormick goal for backing in– it was a slapshot from the blue line, your goalie should save that and you shouldn’t lunge yourself out of position to prevent it. Played a lot with Dion and with neither of them being fast skaters, it hurts both for quick transitions and skating out of trouble.

Stuart Percy - The only defenseman tonight who consistently reversed the play and helped his D partner out. The first time on the PP he was not assertive and deferred the puck even though he was the QB, but the second time he relaxed, walked the line, and let go of a nice low shot which was tipped in for a goal. He was getting beat in his last preseason game, and showed a lot of progress tonight.

Korbinian Holzer - Wasn’t assertive, nor did he do anything spectacular, but he wasn’t a problem either. Just took a regular shift and was solid on the PK (as usual).

Roman Polak - Some scary no look passes into the middle of the ice in his own zone, but also showed something sneaky about him– he doesn’t mind pinching into the slot in the offensive zone when the cycle is occurring. Was more controlled in his physicality in the corners compared to his first outing, which was nice to see

Henrik Tallinder - Really feel for Tallinder getting hurt on a PTO. Hope he recovers and doesn’t have to end his NHL career this way.

Player notes from Anthony Petrielli

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres

3D. PhaneufD112-1930-2:271:4523:23
8P. GranbergD000-1001-0:001:2618:13
19J. LupulL0110021-3:490:0019:30
22H. TallinderD000-1020-0:241:3810:23
24P. HollandC000000031%1:202:0416:39
26D. WinnikC000-102050%0:004:0113:15
32J. LeivoL1230010-3:200:0020:29
40T. BodieR0000001-0:000:008:10
42T. BozakC123102074%3:200:1518:23
43N. KadriC011102053%2:551:0515:47
46R. PolakD1234021-1:372:3123:21
47L. KomarovC1121012100%0:092:1315:46
50S. PercyD0111010-4:382:4022:54
53S. CarrickC000-192275%0:001:219:51
55K. HolzerD0000000-3:242:0221:46
62W. NylanderC0001000-2:170:0013:24
67B. KozunR0110210-0:001:0314:12
71D. ClarksonR1011712-1:350:008:30
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Buffalo Sabres

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MAILMASTER ANAHEIM, CA - MARCH 2: Daniel Winnik #34 of the Anaheim Ducks skates during the game against the Carolina Hurricanes on March 2, 2014 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs signed Daniel Winnik to a 1-year contract worth $1.3m on Monday.

“No disrespect to where I’ve played, but nothing compares to this market.” – Daniel Winnik on being a Maple Leaf

Age: 29 years old
Height/Weight: 6’2, 210
2013-2014 Season: 6Gs-24As-30PTS in 76 games,
On-Ice Shot Attempt Differential: 47.6% CF

“A player who Brendan and Dave liked and we discussed here internally. We just tried to carve out how he would help out the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was available and we felt he could be a big help. He’s got a good track record of soaking up some difficult minutes and even being able to play well with some younger players — I’m going back to his Colorado days where he played a lot of minutes with guys like O’Rielly and Landeskog and had success. With the direction we’re going under Brendan and Dave, I think he can be a real good help to us this season.” - Leafs Asst GM Kyle Dubas on Winnik

 Primarily a winger, Daniel Winnik can also sub in at center on occasion and provide secondary scoring along with penalty killing. He didn’t get one point on the power play last season, but four of his 30 were recorded while shorthanded. Winnik’s point total this year was a career high, but he has consistently been able to play a checking role, not get completely dominated in doing so, and chip in some even strength scoring over the course of his career. He also adds some size to any bottom 6 as he is well over 200 pounds.

The Maple Leafs look to have five lines of NHL forwards at the moment, making for stiff competition in camp among a lot of players on show-me contracts. Winnik is a good PK option to go along with the returning Leo Komarov; the Leafs needed to address this area with primary options McClement and Kulemin out bound. Hopefully with new faces on these units come new and improved results. Between the PK and secondary offense, Leafs management has attempted to address two areas where this team could make some leaps forward and they’ve done it on the cheap by scouring the bargain bin. The other thing that’s clear is that the Leafs have learned from last season in terms of the perils of having a lack of depth down the middle. Santorelli, Holland, Kontiola, Komarov and Winnik all give options at C behind Kadri and Bozak.

There is a whole bottom six to sort out as well as a second line winger for the Lupul and Kadri line. Training camp is going to be fun.

Daniel Winnik Scouting Report

Natural centerman, big, strong and tenacious… handles the puck with poise and boasts good hand-eye co-ordination… willingly battles and takes abuse in the danger areas… knows how to use his body to protect the puck and makes intelligent choices in scoring areas… developed a decent top gear during his three collegiate seasons at New Hampshire, but has made dramatic gains in agility, strength, and first-step quickness since turning pro.
McKeen’s Hockey, 2009

Daniel Winnik Statistics

2011-2012Avalanche, Sharks848152316.44.30%52.20%1.90%
2011-2012 PlayoffsSharks501111.50.00%53.10%0.70%
2012-2013 PlayoffsDucks7011150.00%51.90%9.30%
2013-2014 PlayoffsDucks901113.50.00%38.60%-7.50%
Daniel Winnik Statistics

Daniel Winnik Shot Attempts/Possession Statistics

Daniel Winnik Corsi Rel
Daniel Winnik Corsi Rel
Daniel Winnik Corsi for %
Daniel Winnik Corsi for %

Daniel Winnik Zone Starts

Daniel Winnik Zone Starts
Daniel Winnik Zone Starts

Interestingly, in the zone starts chart above, Winnik was taking more and more defensive zone starts this year. It lines up reasonably well with his possession stats taking a bit of a dive. While it’s not enough to confirm 100% that it was ‘the’ reason, it’s certainly something that contributed a good amount to it.

Daniel Winnik Video

Daniel Winnik on TSN

“It’s pretty tough to turn down an offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs.” – Daniel Winnik 

I talked to my agent and kinda worked a deal together and ya, it’s hard to turn down an offer from the Toronto Maple Leafs when you grew up there. It means a lot. I’ve been away from Toronto for over 10 years, I went to school at the University of New Hampshire and I’ve been in the States since, it’s a little more of a homecoming playing the Leafs just because I haven’t spent time there in many years. You get a little excited! To let my parents know, let my family know, it’s another bit of excitement. I know my Dad is excited just to have me back in the city and to watch me play; it’s been a little tough on them to watch games with me being in the west my whole career and especially on Pacific Time.

On his role:
Similar to my roles in Anaheim and previous teams, to be a 3rd line/penalty killer.

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed David Booth to a 1 year contract worth $1.1 million.

Assets: Has speed to burn. Can put up points in bunches and is ultra aggressive on the forecheck. Also boasts a nose for the net. Can play on either side of center, which adds to his overall value.
Flaws:Concussions are still a concern with him, especially since he has a bad habit of keeping his head down in dangerous areas of the ice. Isn’t a natural setup man. Lacks game-to-game consistency.
Career Potential:Speedy, streaky scoring winger.
– The Forecaster

Leafs fans might remember David Booth from when the Leafs coveted him way back when they traded Bryan McCabe to the Panthers. He has had injuries problems since then that have derailed his career, but he remains solid at forechecking, cycling, and driving the net. When he came back from his major concussion he did have a 23 goal season the following year, before getting traded to Vancouver where he had a 16 goal season. He might still have some scoring left in him. Although he is 6’0 even, he is thick, as he’s listed as over 210 pounds. Of interest to Leafs fans is that he’s had success playing with Mike Santorelli in both Florida and Vancouver.

The Maple Leafs have taken a flyer here on a player who has struggled with injuries and was deemed a poor fit in Vancouver last season, when he played just 13:48 a night on average and didn’t live up to the $4.25 million cap hit, which was bought out by the Canucks.  This will create a tremendous amount of competition among the wingers in the top 9 when taken in combination with the Matt Frattin and Mike Santorelli additions.

The Leafs were considered to be the one of the fastest—if not the fastest—teams in the league the last few seasons and just got a little bit faster again. Booth is an ardent forechecker and strong board player, but has struggled to stay healthy while doing what makes him most successful — and given his rap sheet of injuries the past three years, that is likely the biggest question mark here, because there’s little doubt he has the talent to provide good value in terms of secondary production for the $1.1 million.

It’s hard to dislike the risk-reward ratio with adds like Santorelli, Frattin,  Kontiola, and now David Booth. There’s been no serious commitment made to any of them, and they add depth and versatility to the forward group. With the new array of options, the Leafs will surely fill out the forward group better than last season and have created healthy competition among hungry players with something to prove. A number of these may not work out, but there’s at least the potential to surprise with little associated risk, and no pressure to put developing kids in positions above their heads.

David Booth Highlights

David Booth Statistics

2000 - 01Compuware AmbassadorsNAHL4217133044
2001 - 02USNTDP Under-18 TeamNAHL613418
2001 - 02U.S. Junior National TeamUSHL124376----------
2002 - 03Michigan State UniversityCCHA39171936530
2003 - 04Michigan State UniversityCCHA3081018306
2004 - 05Michigan State UniversityCCHA29791630
2005 - 06Michigan State UniversityCCHA3613223550
2006 - 07Rochester AmericansAHL25771426860224
2006 - 07Florida PanthersNHL483710120----------
2007 - 08Florida PanthersNHL732218402613----------
2008 - 09Florida PanthersNHL723129603810----------
2009 - 10Florida PanthersNHL28881623-3----------
2010 - 11Florida PanthersNHL8223174026-31----------
2011 - 12Florida PanthersNHL60112-6----------
2011 - 12Vancouver CanucksNHL5616132932150110
2012 - 13Vancouver CanucksNHL121234-3----------
2013 - 14Vancouver CanucksNHL6691019181----------
2013 - 14Utica CometsAHL30110-1----------


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PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: Vice President and Assistant General Manager Claude Loiselle of the Toronto Maple Leafs speaks with General Manager Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings during the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

In somewhat of a shocking development, Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin have been fired as assistant GMs. Incoming is a 28 year old executive, Kyle Dubas, formerly General Manager of the Soo Greyhounds and a big proponent of advanced statistics.

The Maple Leafs have signaled a change in management direction under Brendan Shanahan, and it’s probably the closest thing resembling that culture change the Maple Leafs have been talking about in the past few months.

Dave Poulin was involved in a little bit of everything to do with the team as VP of Hockey Operations, as well as serving as GM of the Toronto Marlies since Dave Nonis was promoted to GM of the Maple Leafs after Brian Burke was fired.

Claude Loiselle handled the team’s cap management and negotiated contracts for the team since 2010. Last year, the Leafs took a tonne of flak for the way they used their compliance buyouts, for the structure of the David Clarkson contract (which is essentially buyout proof due to its absurdly signing bonus-laden structure), and for the loss of Joe Colborne after the Leafs needed to shed some cap in preseason. They were also charged with a bonus overage this season — something a bottom 10 team should never be doing — as they flirted with the upper limit all season.

Both are out, and a new, young (just 28), progressive thinker has been added to the fold in Kyle Dubas formerly of the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds.

Dubas is the right mix for a new-age hockey guy; he’s served as a scout, an agent and a GM and brings a fresh approach to a burgeoning analytics arena that has been gaining more and more steam in the hockey world. The outgoing staff (Farrish, Gordon, Cronin, Loiselle, Poulin) were laggards in regards to analytics and were regularly putting their foot in their mouths, saying things such as: shot counts don’t matter, using proprietary scoring chances to gauge who is controlling play, and using systems that were allowing the most shots against in the league and explaining that it was misleading.

Shanahan on Dubas: “He has a fresh approach that we feel will benefit our club for years to come.”

Here’s an excellent interview with Kyle Dubas at Canucks Army which is helpful in showing how he analyzes and assesses his players.

We’re excited about the addition of an up-and-coming hockey executive in Kyle,” said Nonis.

“He’s impressive, smart, devoted, dedicated,. He believed in advanced stats before it was popular to do so. He’s ambitious. And he sees the game well. Relates well to people. Understands that if want respect, show respect.” – Sherry Bassin

Dubas is a very young hockey executive and has just three years experience in management at the OHL level, so it’s perhaps stretching to say the Leafs have completely overhauled the management group, but it seems to rock the boat in a new direction. Dubas is a student of the modern game, was an advanced stats guy before advanced stats were really a thing, and will bring a different voice that challenges some of the old-school echo-chamber thinking that really emanated out of our interviews with the management team last summer.

While this caps off a promising, refreshing, intelligent off-season by Shanahan, the most interesting part of it — given the moves since — has been the decision to keep Randy Carlyle around despite so many of the subsequent moves — letting Bolland and McClement go, firing his assistants, talking about using four lines, bringing in an advanced stats-oriented GM to work on what was the worst possession system by the numbers in the NHL last season (and perhaps ever) — suggesting there’s no reason for him to come back. There must really be a feeling that Carlyle is prepared to embrace change or else he will be gone very early on.

This is a nice show of accountability in management and potentially a really astute addition to the staff.

“This announcement today is one that brings very mixed emotions for me. Certainly, I am excited by the massive opportunity that the Toronto Maple Leafs have afforded me. However, with that comes leaving a team and group of people that have an impact on me that is special that it is truly difficult to put into words. “One of the most important elements of this decision for me was the fact that the staff and group of players with the Greyhounds are just a fabulous team and will be able to carry on the current course in a seamless manner. I’m also very excited about working with the Board of Directors over the short-term future to properly transition the team.”  Kyle Dubas on his transition from the Soo Greyhounds to the Toronto Maple Leafs

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TORONTO , ON - JANUARY 30: Nazem Kadri #43, Cody Franson #4 brace of the static electricity shock one feels in dry, cold weather. Jake Gardiner #51 of the Toronto Maple Leafs looks on and celebrates Cody Franson's goal against the Florida Panthers during NHL game action January 30, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Cody Franson has avoided arbitration with the Toronto Maple Leafs by signing a one-year deal worth $3.3 million dollars.

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Steve Spott Leafs
Photo: MLHS

Steve Spott on the new challenge with the Maple Leafs organization.

New Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott believes that he and head coach Randy Carlyle have the same philosophy: Attack and be aggressive.

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Matt Frattin
Photo Credit: Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images

TSN 1050: Game Night with Jim Tatti & Andy McNamara: Matt Frattin

Matt Frattin joins Game Night to discuss returning to the Leafs and the direction the Leafs are heading in.

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Photo: Graig Abel

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced today that Steve Spott and Peter Horachek have been appointed as Randy Carlyle’s new Assistant Coaches.

It’s interesting that Dave Nonis has said since the announcement that he is looking to reduce the media scrutiny on Randy  Carlyle and anticipates the two new assistant coaches doing more interviewing throughout the year than Scott Gordon and Greg Cronin did during their time here.

Steve Spott is a well spoken individual. He speaks in full sentences, directly and with candor. He has the communication skills of a good teacher, which was his profession prior to hockey. There doesn’t seem to be any ulterior meaning to any of what he says; he’s direct and honest. He seemed to develop a rapport with the Marlies team in quick order.

Steve Spott will definitely make a case for playing time for some of the Marlies who helped him earn this promotion. It’s doubtful he comes in without a few ideas of his own or that he simply meshes into the background knowing his personality.

Same goes for Horachek, who is well known for his outspokenness and passion. He’ll be bringing a little head coaching experience to the bench along with a long history as an assistant coach in Nashville under Barry Trotz. Most importantly, he’s bringing an outside voice and perspective.

From Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck, on Horacheck’s time in Nashville:

Peter Horachek did a little bit of everything, but during games I believe he usually coordinated the D pairings. Folks here love Horachek, he was very popular for being outspoken and passionate. His intermission interviews were required viewing…

That was a successful defence in Nashville for many years under Trotz and Horachek.

There was an excellent breakdown in the Sun Sentinel about Horachek’s successes and failures in his brief interim role as head coach of the Panthers last season:


  1. Throw out the first two games of his tenure when he wasn’t able to conduct a full-blown practice to incorporate his systematic changes. Then discount the 7-15-1 post-Olympic break mark when injuries, especially to rookie phenom Aleksander Barkov, and the trading of several veterans, had his lineup consisting of mostly 10 rookies and AHLers, then Horachek’s record would’ve been 19-19-3.
  2. Under Horachek, forward Scottie Upshall, who was buried in Dineen’s doghouse because of injuries and an apparent personality conflict, thrived with a career-best 37 points while evolving as a team leader. Horachek’s handling of castoff defenseman Tom Gilbert (25 assists) and oft-injured forward Jesse Winchester (career-high 9 goals) also paid off in resurgent seasons. Veteran forward Sean Bergenheim, who was out for more than a year with injuries, finished strong with 16 goals in 62 games.
  3. Under Horachek the Panthers were instantly more organized skating in and out of their zones, as evident by their respectable 17th-place standing in scoring when at an even-strength 5-on-5.
  4. Horachek had the uncanny ability to motivate players via benchings at the right time and then get the most out of them. A prime example is when he sat veteran winger Brad Boyes on Dec. 8 for not pursuing the puck hard enough. Boyes came back strong and revitalized a stagnant career by leading the Panthers with 21 goals. Horachek and Boyes were also the primary reasons for Florida’s franchise-best 8-6 shootout mark. Horachek could’ve lost veteran center Scott Gomez after scratching him in 35 games, yet by the end of the season, played him in 17 straight games and often on the top line, while praising his leadership.
  5. The Panthers never quit as evident by their double-digit comebacks from two-goal deficits to at least tie before winning or losing. The Panthers had 78 goals in the third period, tied for ninth-most in the league.
  6. Horachek, who was largely responsible for developing Predators’ draft picks from 2003 to 2012, put several Panthers rookies and young players in positions to succeed, specifically Barkov (24 points in 54 games), Jimmy Hayes (11 goals), Drew Shore, Nick Bjugstad (team-leading 38 points), Quinton Howden, Brandon Pirri (14 points in 21 games with Panthers) and to a lesser extent Vincent Trocheck.
  7. After a month on the job, the Panthers won 7-of-8 from Dec. 5-19, including two wins over the perennial playoff powerhouse Red Wings, and a 3-1 trip through Canada.


  1. The special teams were awful under Dineen and not much better under Horachek as both the power play and penalty kill finished a league-worst 30th. The power play was a franchise-worst 10 percent efficiency, while the PK was at 76 percent, second lowest in team history. That said, once Horachek put the 6-foot-6 Hayes in front of the net on the power play, the Panthers had 10 PPGs in their last 24 games, compared to 17 PPGs in their first 58 games.
  2. The poor starts continued under Horachek as the Panthers were 29th in the league in fewest goals for in the first period (45) and tied for 30th in most goals allowed (84) in the opening period. The Panthers were a league-worst 6-28-4 when trailing after one, but on a positive note were 15-0-1 when leading after two.
  3. The Panthers’ defense didn’t improve under Horachek until they reacquired goalie Roberto Luongo. They were ranked 29th in goals against (3.2 per game), but only allowed 2.46 with Luongo in net.
  4. The offense was ranked 29th overall (2.29 per game), but again, Horachek was coaching mostly rookies and AHLer over the final 23 games.
  5. No matter what line Horachek placed reigning Calder Trophy winner Jonathan Huberdeau or veteran Tomas Fleischmann on, neither player could ever get untracked. Also, young defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov were maddening inconsistent while veteran blue-liner Brian Campbell seemed to lose interest once the playoffs were out of reach.

Also worth knowing re: Horachek:

Florida Pathers 5v5 Fenwick Close
Credit: @Hope_Smoke / Extra Skater

By going from three main assistants down to two, it would seem to suggest Leafs management is trying to reduce the amount of white noise in the room. Some of the info that leaked following the conclusion of exit interviews suggested that there were some mixed messages and perhaps too much variety in the voices in the dressing room.

It’s not even clear to Horacheck and Spott themselves yet what their individual responsibilities will be in terms of special teams, defence pairs and the like, so we’ll wait to hear more on that front.

We’ll also wait to hear who steps into the Marlies head coaching role. Do recall that there were rumblings of DJ Smith, former St. John Maple Leaf and current head coach of the Oshawa Generals, interviewing for the Marlies head coach job a month or so ago.

Steve Spott on the Assistant Coach nod

Dave Nonis on hiring Steve Spott and Peter Horachek as Assistant Coaches

Peter Horachek Post Games (Playlist)

Peter Horachek Coaching Record

1987-88Saginaw HawksIHLAssistant
1988-89Flint SpiritsIHLAssistant
1990-91Nashville KnightsECHLHead642931040.484Out of Playoffs
1991-92St. Thomas WildcatsCoHLHead602429700.458Lost in Finals
1992-93St. Thomas WildcatsCoHLHead602727060.5Lost in Finals
1993-94Flint GeneralsCoHLHead643223900.57Lost in round 2
1994-95Flint GeneralsCoHLHead743434600.5Lost in round 1
1995-96Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1996-97Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1997-98Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1998-99Orlando Solar BearsIHLAssistant
1999-00Orlando Solar BearsIHLHead8247230120.646Lost in round 2
Jan-00Orlando Solar BearsIHLHead824728070.616Won Championship
Feb-01Trenton TitansECHLHead7246160100.708Lost in round 3
Mar-02Milwaukee AdmiralsAHLHead8032271470.531Lost in round 1
Apr-03Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Jun-05Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Jul-06Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Aug-07Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Sep-08Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Oct-09Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Nov-10Nashville PredatorsNHLAssistant
Dec-11Nashville PredatorsNHLAssociate
2012-13Nashville PredatorsNHLAssociate
2013-14Nashville PredatorsNHLAssociate
2013-14San Antonio RampageAHLHead763037090.454Out of Playoffs
2013-14Florida PanthersNHLHead*
Peter Horachek Coaching Record

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Petri Kontiola
Petri Kontiola

The Toronto Maple Leafs have gone overseas to sign a depth center in Petri Kontiola to a one-year, $1.1 million contract (one-way).

We now know what else Dave Nonis was up to when he visited Finland recently to meet with Leo Komarov. This is a found wallet free agent  if he works out—and if he doesn’t, both parties can go their separate ways without penalty. Why not, right?

Kontiola amassed 112 assists and 175 points in 258 regular-season KHL games for Traktor and Metallurg Magnitogorsk. He put up 130 points in 147 games in the American Hockey League before he went overseas.

The Maple Leafs are building up some depth options at center here. Petri Kontiola, a linemate of Leo Komarov’s in the 2014 World Championships, is a total NHL unknown, but his numbers in the KHL, AHL before he left, and international tournaments (37 points in 46 career games at the IIHF Men’s World Championship; 5 points in 6 games at the Sochi Olympics) are quite good. Tempering expectations, Rickard Wallin also led his team in scoring and he was a dud when he came over to play for Toronto.

This may or may not lay to rest the rumours of David Legwand coming to Toronto; the Leafs would be opting to go with youth and inexperience on their bottom six center group, which is a big leap of faith, if that is the case. More than likely just adding depth center options here, but the 29-year-old Finn appears to be more than just a grinder.

He could also play some wing over here if the Leafs add another center to go along with incumbents Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Peter Holland.

Six NHL teams were reportedly courting Kontiola, who is a former seventh round draft pick of the Chicago Blackhawks.

Petri Kontiola Video Highlights

Petri Kontiola Statistics

Kontiola is a smart center with great passing ability and playmaking skills. Has decent speed, but could shoot the puck more.
- Erik K. Piri, EP (2010)
SeasonTeamLeagueGPGATPPIM+/- Postseas.GPGA
1999-00S-Kiekko U16Jr. C SM-sarja133146|
2001-02Tappara U18Jr. B SM-sarja225388|Playoffs210
2002-03Tappara U20Jr. A SM-liiga367101712|Playoffs833
2003-04Tappara U20Jr. A SM-liiga1231215810|Playoffs1044
Suomi U20 LoanMestis61124-7|
Finland U20WJC-20711221|
2004-05Tappara U20Jr. A SM-liiga11010|
2007-08Chicago BlackhawksNHL1205565|
Rockford IceHogsAHL661850683217|Playoffs1255
2008-09Rockford IceHogsAHL61153853223|
Iowa ChopsAHL204598-9|
2009-10Metallurg MagnitogorskKHL5471522246|Playoffs1022
2010-11Metallurg MagnitogorskKHL541434483618|Playoffs1626
2011-12Traktor ChelyabinskKHL531522373417|Playoffs1636
Finland (all)International21145125|
2012-13Traktor ChelyabinskKHL441219315122|Playoffs25109
Finland AWC10881686|
Finland (all)International301120|
2013-14Traktor ChelyabinskKHL5315223734-11|
Finland (all)International2161218249|
2014-15Traktor ChelyabinskKHL-----|

More to come…

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Tim Gleason
Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Elliotte Friedman is reporting that Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenceman Tim Gleason is on waivers with the intent to buy him out.

Tim Gleason Buyout

2014-15$1,333,333 $833,333
2015-16$1,333,333 $1,833,333
2016-17$1,333,333 $1,333,333
2017-18$1,333,333 $1,333,333

Left Defence

  • Gardiner
  • Rielly
  • (Brennan?)
  • Percy
  • MacWilliam

Right Defence

  • Phaneuf
  • Franson
  • Polak
  • Granberg

The Maple Leafs now have three NHL defencemen who are right shots, which is something that Carlyle—and a lot of coaches—really harp about wanting and needing.

This punches a hole on the left side of the Leafs defence core and opens up a spot for either a Marlie, Paul Ranger to be promoted or an Unrestricted Free Agent signed to the Leafs.

The buyout saves the Leafs a shade over $3 million on next season’s $69 million cap, but becomes a little more burdensome in the seasons following.

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Roman Polak
at Staples Center on December 2, 2013 in Los Angeles, California.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded defenceman Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th round selection (94th overall) in this year’s draft to the St. Louis Blues for defenceman Roman Polak.

Gunnarsson was almost always played in situations above his head under Randy Carlyle in Toronto while also struggling with a chronic hip injury he just had repaired this summer. It would’ve been preferred to move Gunnarsson to a lower pairing in order see how he does when he isn’t buried by the second lowest offensive zone starts behind only Dion Phaneuf among NHL defencemen and against some of the toughest competition.

While the right handedness is preferred and Polak brings more size and physical edge, we can question if this is really an upgrade at all let alone one worth spending a 4th round pick to make happen. It is a downgrade in terms of production; Gunnarsson has been a .28 point-per-game player throughout his career and Polak just a .18PPG.

Polak played around 17 minutes a night for the Blues, and was their worst D regular in terms of possession numbers with a -5.8% CorsiRel, starting around 46.2% of shifts in the offensive zone. His shifts weren’t particularly difficult in terms of quality of competition.

Polak played with Jordan Leopold on the Blues’ bottom pair throughout the first round of the playoffs.

The 28-year-old Czech carries a cap hit of $2.75 million for the next two seasons. The Leafs will save about $200,000 on the cap on Gunnarsson’s $3.150M figure, which was a contract signed through to the end of 2015-16 as well, on account of retaining $200,000 to complete the deal.

Roman Polak Scouting Reports

Assets: Underrated, he plays a smooth, steady game from behind the blueline and usually limits his mistakes. Is big and strong enough (6-1, 225 pounds) to handle big opponents in front of the net.
Flaws: Doesn’t own great offensive ability. Can wear down with overuse. Has been prone to injury, as well. Could stand to be more physical, since he lacks consistency in that department.
Career Potential: Solid stay-at-home defenseman.

an aggressive defense-minded, right-shooting rearguard, who also possesses some decent skills… deceptively strong and agile on his skates, propelled by above-average footspeed… not a flashy puckhandler yet moves the puck reliably and stays within his limitations for the most part… solid defender… prepares and uses his body efficiently to block shooting lanes… stands up puck rushers 1-on-1 and will finish checks with authority

Roman Polak Statistics

  Scoring StatsScoring StatsScoring Stats   Ice Time
Roman Polak Statistics

Photo: Christian Bonin/

A great run comes to an end.

Game Highlights: Texas Stars 6 vs. Toronto Marlies 2

Steve Spott Post Game Press Conference

The Toronto Marlies get set to take on the Texas Stars at 8:30 p.m.

For a team with anywhere from 12-15 entry level contracts making up the team roster, many had the young Toronto Marlies’ season labeled as one that would be a learning year and one without much hope for playoff success. Here are the Marlies looking down a Game 7 in the Western Conference finals and in with a shot to go to the Calder Cup Finals—their 2nd in the past 3 seasons.

Despite being wildly outshot in a number of games, the Marlies have hung in there with excellent goaltending and timely goalscoring—and scoring 1st in 13 of their 13 playoff games. Drew MacIntyre has been the difference maker for the Marlies and veteran players such as: Spencer Abbot, Peter Holland, Carter Ashton, Jerry D’Amigo and an emerging Sam Carrick have all taken offensive roles when the team has needed it most throughout the Calder Cup Finals.

Special teams were huge for the Marlies in the 2nd period last night in particular and continue to compensate for the Stars’ edge in play at even strength: The Marlies killed off four power plays in the 2nd and scored on their lone PP of the period, and are currently killing penalties at a 90+% rate in these playoffs along with a 25.4% powerplay success rate.

The Toronto Marlies have allowed just 4 goals against in their last 3 games.

All the chips are down and it’s Game 7. Nothing like it.

No reported lineup changes, we’ll toss into the comments as they become available.

The Toronto Marlies are looking to get back to playing better hockey after two games in which they were soundly outshot and outplayed, but relied on opportunistic goal scoring and fantastic goaltending from Drew MacIntyre.

In Games 1 and 2, the Marlies were pulled away from playing their game and spent a lot of time in between the dots loosely defending the neutral zone and home plate areas, as opposed to forcing battles to the boards, where they excel. Getting back to basic hockey and executing simple plays with better accuracy; including making sure there is ample support for the defence from the forwards by providing backside pressure, simple (short) tape-to-tape passes on breakouts and through the neutral zone and using soft, smart dumps to use the Toronto Marlies considerable physical makeup to their advantage.

Followers of the Maple Leafs will notice the same wide open points (which generate rebounds and second chance oppurtunities) with the Marlies, and they will more-than-likely be outshot in the series regularly, but hopefully they can whether the storm and receive the same excellent goaltending they have been from Drew MacIntyre.

Lineup changes for The Marlies: Tyler Biggs and Andrew Macwilliam are in, Jerred Smithson / Dylan Yeo are out. Steve Spott obviously looking to add some more snarl to the lineup in attempts to keeping what was a chippy affair the last game under wraps, to augment the forecheck (Biggs) and keep Texas Stars’ East-West forwards honest (MacWilliam).