Saturday, May 23, 2015
Authors Posts by Maple Leafs Hot Stove

Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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Founded in 2008, Maple Leafs Hotstove (MLHS) has grown to be the most visited unofficial team-focused hockey website online (Quantcast). Independently owned and operated, MLHS provides thorough and wide ranging content, varying from news, opinion and analysis, to pre-game and long-form game reviews, a weekly feature piece, the "Leafs Notebook", along with a Web TV show the "Maple Leaf Hangout".

Darren Dreger and Nick Kypreos confirmed MLHS’ exclusive report yesterday about the Leafs’ initial contact with Mike Babcock on Saturday:

Brendan Shanahan will fly over to Prague shortly, where coaching candidates Babcock and Todd McLellan and a number of potential executive candidates are assembled for the World Championships.

Sunday Links:

  • Elliotte Friedman: 30 Thoughts — Top 3 for Mike Babcock (Sportsnet.ca)
    I asked Babcock if he was going to visit any city he was considering, and his answer was an unqualified yes. He is going to the World Championships on Monday and not returning until the 17th. Detroit’s self-imposed deadline is May 25. That leaves him one week to go where he wants to go. How many visits can he realistically fit into that time, especially if we are talking about geographically different locales such as Buffalo, Edmonton, Philadelphia and San Jose?
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  • Chris Peters: Maple Leafs get permission to talk to Mike Babcock, Todd McLellan (CBS Eye On Hockey)
    According to Cox, Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan is headed to the Czech Republic, where the World Championship is currently being held. McLellan is already there as the head coach of Team Canada. Babcock is also reportedly on his way overseas to take in the tournament. With a lot of NHL GMs there scouting, it could be a kill two birds with one stone scenario.
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  • Jonathan Willis: Detroit Red Wings looking out for themselves by letting Mike Babcock talk to NHL teams (Edmonton Journal)
    It’s important to realize that in letting Mike Babcock talk to other NHL teams – a list which will almost certainly include the Edmonton Oilers – the Detroit Red Wings aren’t simply doing a favour to a long-time employee. They’re taking care of themselves, too.
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  • JP Nikota: Some thoughts on Mike Babcock as coach (Pension Plan Puppets)
    Sure, sure, it’s easy to look good behind a roster like Canada’s, but ceding 3 goals in 6 games against teams that were almost just as lethal? The only way I can describe watching Canada beat the States in the semi-final match is like watching the insides of a clock turn perfectly.
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  • Kevin McGran: Maple Leafs reportedly have permission to talk to Mike Babcock (Toronto Star)
    The twist this year is that if a team signs a coach under contract to another deal, they must surrender a third-round pick at some time over the next three seasons. Babcock is under contract until the end of June. If teams wait till after July, they wouldn’t have to surrender a pick.
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Kyle Dubas, Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo: The Star

Toronto Maple Leafs’ Assistant General Manager, Kyle Dubas, was on TSN Drive with Dave Naylor and Steve Simmons discussing GM & Coaching candidates, the upcoming 2015 NHL Draft and more.

Latest update with management:
Everything is up always here with us and we’re just wrapping up our final amateur scouting meeting this week. Obviously, unfortunately, neither the Leafs or the Marlies remain in action. With that it doesn’t mean our workload is dialled back, we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got two first round picks here that are of utmost importance to us as we work to get this thing going in the right direction. Our efforts to be very thorough and more thorough than ever in our approach to the draft is what is consuming the majority of our time now. It’s exciting and a fun opportunity to be able to work with our scouting staff led by Dave Morrison and Mark Hunter; some great debates and work this week.

On the GM search:
With the general manager, it’s a bit more interesting. Brendan is more handling that, and we just continue to do our jobs – Mark and I – continue to do our jobs the best we can and have the place as ready as possible for whoever that candidate is that comes in. On the coaching front, we’re heavily involved with Brendan and furthering to create our list of possible coaches; go through the process of starting to line up interviews, so on and so forth. It’s been a lot of fun and a good experience for me as a young guy working in hockey to go through this for the first time at the NHL level.

On coaching candidates and Mike Babcock’s availability:
I think that, obviously, Mike is a great coach. There’s some protocols that I’m not sure – I’ve basically just read about it and heard about it today; everybody asks you about it, but he’s a very good coach and that would be more up to Brendan and I’m sure at some point there will be a discussion had about whether there is even an interest in sitting down and talking about it and seeing where it goes from there. No real news there from my end today, unfortunately. I know that would make for better headlines, but I don’t have much on it today.

On what Arizona might do at the #3 pick and the Leafs at #4:
I was hoping you were going to tell me whom they were picking because that would’ve made it a lot easier on us.  I think we’re in a very good spot. Everyone has probably been in that position throughout their existence as a team where they think they’re in a good spot. We know there’s going to be a very good player available there for us. For us it’s making the absolute best decision. If we get a very good player but pass up on a great player and miss, that’s not good for us and that’s not good enough for us as a management group. There is a litany of players that are in that mix for us there. You mentioned Hanifin, you have Dylan Strome, you have Mitch Marner, Mathew Barzal, Mikko Rantanen, Ivan Provorov, Lawson Crouse; there’s a lot of players that are under consideration for us at that point and a lot of work for us to do. In our case – I’ve said a lot recently – we’re not in a position to get picky by position and so on and so forth; we have to pick the absolute best player that’s going to have the greatest impact with the Maple Leafs. That’s the process we’re immersed deeply in now. Mark Hunter leading the charge with Dave Morrison, and Mark and I working closely together to try to make sure we’re getting this absolutely right. I think, even more importantly – make a good pick because we have to at fourth overall – but if we’re going to start separating ourselves and growing as an organization; that second pick in the first round I’m really focused on in terms of trying to predict what is happening in front of us and what players are going to be there. We have to make a great selection with that second pick and really begin to stockpile some very good young players in our organization.

On the final scouting list:
I think it’s dangerous at this point to move it too much around and to put too much focus on some of the guys that are still playing. We always have to take into account the full season’s work of each player and not try to get too enamoured with the very last game that we saw them in. Of course, with some of these guys still playing, it’s a great experience to see them playing against the absolute best teams from other leagues. Now you’ve got Connor McDavid and you’ve got Dylan Strome and they’re playing Oshawa, who has got Mitchell Vande Sompel and you’ve got Nick Merkley and Ivan Provorov head to head out West, which is another great opportunity for us as well. You don’t want to slag the player too much if they struggle in this environment, but you have to be watching and keeping it in mind and keying in on adding to our viewings and our book on the player. But for us it’s always going to evolve because we’ve got the combine still coming up, we’ve got the interviews with the players, and bringing in character references and what we gain from the interviews from them, and really trying to figure out more about them as people and whether they’re going to be a fit for us personally with where we’re going with our program with the Maple Leafs.

On BPA versus positional need:
I think, at this point, we aren’t particularly good enough to be going out and drafting for need and acquiring a player that might be not as good as somebody else because they might play wing or might play defence. Our focus has exclusively been on picking the player that we believe can have the most impact on the Maple Leafs. In a perfect world, and I agree, it’s a center that’s outstanding, and a lot of these players are centers that we’re talking about, the forwards that are in consideration. Then you’ve got the defencemen. It depends on the philosophy, right? You got the teams that are still in action that are still playing; they’ve got excellent centers, they’ve got excellent wingers, excellent defencemen and goaltenders that have shown the ability to win and play well throughout. We need to add all of those things in right now. We’ve got some good pieces there, but we can’t yet be picky and draft a player with less talent because it might fit a conventional need. We really need to continue to focus on adding just the most talent we can and then we can adapt hopefully as we go along if we do find a need that’s glaring.

On Sheldon Keefe potentially joining the Leafs:
I think I’ve gotten to know Sheldon very well over working with him for the year and a half there in Sault Ste. Marie and knowing him for those two seasons. It’s not a surprise to me that it gets brought up. When anyone has worked with anyone before it’s always convenient to say, “well hey, he might end up in Toronto with the Leafs because he worked with me and I now work here.” We haven’t had any discussions with Sheldon at this point, but it’s not surprising at all to hear that he’s in consideration for other teams and I’ve heard from other teams asking questions about him. He’s come a long way in every regard and has some very, very good potential as a coach. He’s a very young guy that’s had a lot of success coaching, so I’m very happy for him and look forward to seeing what happens next with Sheldon, whether he’s back in Sault Ste. Marie hopefully continuing to push my beloved Greyhounds further along.

Photo: Dario Ayala / Montreal Gazette

Hahaha.

Thursday Links:

  • Alec Brownscombe: Guy Boucher reportedly contacted by Toronto Maple Leafs (MLHS)
    Boucher’s answers below on the importance of development and where he sees the game today (and where it’s going) seem to align with a lot of what you hear out of the new management regime. Transcript below.
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  • MLHS: ISS May, 2015 NHL Draft Rankings 
    Latest ISS rankings released just the other day.
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  • Jon Steitzer: Maple Leafs Job Fair — Mike Futa’s Resume (TLN)
    Futa is an interesting option, but may require compensation to the Kings. LA has guarded personnel like John Stevens in the past, and kept him from interviewing for head coaching positions, it’s possible they will be equally guarded about Futa, especially since given their cap situation they will require his scouting expertise to find affordable options to support the bloated contracts of Quick, Richards, and Brown.
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  • Josh Cooper: Tyler Johnson’s Game 3 buzzer beater puts Canadiens on the brink (Puck Daddy)
    Through nine games this playoff, Tampa captain Steven Stamkos has scored just one goal. Johnson has eight, which has softened the blow of Stamkos’ lack of production. As for Montreal’s all-world goaltender Carey Price in this series? He has allowed 10 goals in three games and has an .853 save percentage.
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  • Josh Cooper: Braden Holtby stops penalty shot, stuffs Rangers in Caps’ Game 4 win (Puck Daddy)
    The Rangers’ issues involved trying to get pucks through to Holtby. The Capitals blocked 25 shots on goal to New York’s seven. Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik led Washington with six shots on goal. Predictably, the advanced stats were in New York’s favor. But alas, the Rangers, who were built for the playoffs are one loss from being unexpectedly bounced.

ISS May 2015 NHL Draft Rankings

RankPlayerTeamLeagueGamesGoalsAssistsPts
1Connor McDavid (C)Erie OttersOHL474476120
2Jack Eichel (C)Boston Univ.NCAA40264571
3Dylan Strome (C)Erie OttersOHL684584129
4Lawson Crouse (LW)Kingston FrontenacsOHL56292251
5Noah Hanifin (D)Boston CollegeNCAA3751823
6Mitchell Marner (C)London KnightsOHL634482126
7Ivan Provorov (D)Brandon Wheat KingsWHL60154661
8Mathew Barzal (C)Seattle ThunderbirdsWHL44124557
9Mikko Rantanen (C/W)TPSLiiga5691928
10Pavel Zacha (C/LW)Sarnia StingOHL37161834
11Zachary Werenski (D)Univ. of MichiganNCAA3591625
12Travis Konecny (C/RW)Ottawa 67'sOHL60293968
13Kyle Connor (C)Youngstown PhantomsUSHL56344680
14Timo Meier (RW/C)Halifax MooseheadsQMJHL61444690
15Colin White (RW/C)U.S. National U18 TeamUSDP54233154
16Thomas Chabot (D)Saint John Sea DogsQMJHL66122941
17Paul Bittner (LW)Portland WinterhawksWHL66343771
18Yevgeni Svechnikov (LW)Cape Breton Screaming EaglesQMJHL55324678
19Nick Merkley (C)Kelowna RocketsWHL72207090
20Joel Eriksson Ek (C)FärjestadSHL34426
21Brandon Carlo (D)Tri-City AmericansWHL6342125
22Jakub Zboril (D)Saint John Sea DogsQMJHL44132033
23Jérémy Roy (D)Sherbrooke PhoenixQMJHL4653843
24Denis Guryanov (RW/LW)Ladia TogliattiMHL23151025
25Jansen Harkins (C)Prince George CougarsWHL70205979
26Daniel Sprong (RW)Charlottetown IslandersQMJHL68394988
27Jake DeBrusk (LW)Swift Current BroncosWHL72423981
28Jeremy Bracco (C/RW)U.S. National U18 TeamUSDP65306494
29Noah Juulsen (D)Everett SilvertipsWHL6894352
30Gabriel Carlsson (D)Linköping J20SuperElit39077

Lou Lamoriello, President and General Manager of the NHL's New Jersey Devils hockey team listens to a question at a news conference to announce the signing of Ilya Kovalchuk to a long-term contract with the team in Newark, New Jersey, July 20, 2010. Kovalchuk signed a reported 17-year, $102 million contract to remain with the Devils. Photo BY: JASON SZENES/NY POST

Tuesday Links:

  • MLHS: Kyle Dubas speaks with the media after Marlies loss (Video)
    Kyle Dubas speaks with the media at the Marlies locker clean out on Monday.
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  • Greg Wyshynski: Ray Shero, Lou Lamoriello, and the end of Devils hockey as we knew it (Puck Daddy)
    Lou Lamiorello was Devils hockey. His roster, his rules, his finger on the trigger for every coach he hired. His philosophy permeated every level, office and locker in the organization, from the way Devils employees wore their hair to the way they interacted with the public to the system the players executed on the ice.
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  • Michael Langlois: The next Maple Leaf head coach: a pivotal choice… (Vintage Leaf Memories)
    But, I think a lot of fans, like me, believe that Shanahan is so intent on acting like a “super GM” that I don’t know how independent the new General Manager can really be. I sense Shanahan will run the coaching interviews and, whether or not the current assistant GMs are promoted from within to take over the top job here, they will have a significant voice in who the next coach of the Maple Leafs will be.
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  • Scott Cullen: Offseason Game Plan — Toronto Maple Leafs (TSN.ca)
    Off-Season Game Plan looks at what should be a fascinating Maple Leafs offseason, one that could see some of their highest-profile players moving elsewhere.
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Photo: Chris Young/CP

Two consecutive losses in Grand Rapids has the Marlies in a win or go home situation in Game 5.

Viktor Loov returns from suspension, while Andrew MacWilliam makes way on the blueline.

After Christopher Gibson allowed five goals on 27 shots yesterday, Gord Dineen has decided to start Antoine Bibeau in the series deciding game. Bibeau hasn’t started since April 19.

Toronto Marlies Projected Lines

William Nylander – Byron Froese – Matt Frattin
Matt Rupert – Ryan Rupert – Connor Brown
Brendan Leipsic – Greg McKegg – Josh Leivo
Denver Manderson – Sam Carrick – Troy Bodie

TJ Brennan – Brendan Mikkelson
Stuart Percy – Petter Granberg
Viktor Loov – Tom Nilsson

Antoine Bibeau

Grand Rapids Griffins Projected Lines

Bertuzzi – Miele – Zengerle
Tvrdon – Nosek – Pulkkinen
Mantha – Athanasiou – Porter
Hoggan – Aubry – Hirschfeld

Paetsch – Ouellet
Evans – Sproul
Lashoff – Jensen

McCollum

Game 1:Toronto Marlies vs. Grand Rapids Griffins

The Marlies look to finish the job versus Grand Rapids.

Toronto Marlies Projected Lines

William Nylander – Byron Froese – Matt Frattin
Matt Rupert – Ryan Rupert – Connor Brown
Brendan Leipsic – Greg McKegg – Josh Leivo
Denver Manderson – Sam Carrick – Troy Bodie

TJ Brennan – Brendan Mikkelson
Stuart Percy – Petter Granberg
Andrew MacWilliam – Tom Nilsson

Christopher Gibson

Grand Rapids Griffins Projected Lines

Bertuzzi – Miele – Zengerle
Tvrdon – Nosek – Pulkkinen
Mantha – Athanasiou – Porter
Hoggan – Aubry – Hirschfeld

Paetsch – Ouellet
Evans – Sproul
Lashoff – Jensen

McCollum

Worth noting is that Detroit has to give permission to another team to speak to Blashill, who is under contract beyond this season.

Even if Grand Rapids loses out this weekend to the Marlies, they likely will not do that until the Babcock situation is resolved. If Babcock stays, they probably won’t/can’t stand in the way of Blashill taking the next step. If Babcock goes, they will more than likely hand the big club head coaching reigns to Blashill.

Onto the links.

Friday Links:

  • Darren Dreger: Babcock the first coaching domino (TSN.ca)
    “Family trumps it all,” is how one of Babcock’s coaching colleagues defended his belief the highly decorated coach will stay put. That’s based on an assumption Babcock’s family doesn’t support change, though, at this point, we have no way of knowing that. However, Babcock does rely on strong family ties, but his connection to general manager Ken Holland and his sense of loyalty to Red Wings owners Mike and Marian Ilitch is deep rooted and may also qualify as family.
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  • Jonas Siegel: Next Jon Cooper might be fresh face Leafs need (TSN.ca)
    “He doesn’t have [NHL] experience, but if you look at his resume, he just wins,” Skjodt said of Blashill in an interview. “Has he been a coach before in the NHL? No. But he’s certainly ready. If there’s anyone in this country that’s ready right now, it’d be Jeff Blashill.”
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  • Edmonton Journal: Detroit Red Wings GM expresses desire to retain Mike Babcock as head coach
    “I want Mike to stay, I’ve expressed that to him,” Holland told reporters at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. “Money is no object.”
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  • Drew Sharp: With Cup future in doubt, so is Babcock’s with Wings (Detroit Free Press)
    “You’ve got to have big-time players up the middle and on the back end to be successful,” Babcock said. “We’ve been drafting good and developing good, but we’ve been winning too much. That’s the facts.”
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  • Scott Lewis:  Person of Interest — The 411 on Jeff Blashill (Sportsnet.ca)
    Blashill, the head coach of the Detroit Red Wings’ AHL affiliate Grand Rapids Griffins, is likely to be a top candidate to fill a coaching vacancy with the big club if Babcock elects to pursue employment elsewhere. Likewise, Blashill could find himself on the radar of several other teams looking for a new coach.
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  • John Vogl: Sabres have pieces that could attract Babcock (The Buffalo News)
    Though their centers and defensemen are young, the Sabres have the pieces Babcock desires. Jack Eichel is set to join Sam Reinhart and Zemgus Girgensons as the Sabres’ top centers. Zach Bogosian, Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov are blue-liners drafted in the first 16 picks. If Buffalo is going to turn its fortunes around, those players will be the key.
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Pierre Lebrun

Pierre Lebrun weighed in on the Mike Babcock situation today on Leafs Lunch.

Latest update:
I’ve talked to Mike Babcock in the last hour here. Mike didn’t have too much to say other than he is meeting with Holland tomorrow morning. He would meet with him every year at this time when the season ends. This will probably be a pretty important and emotional discussion, but Babcock didn’t have much else; [he’s] undecided at this point, guys. He really was waiting to the end of the year to talk about it with his family and Ken Holland and go from there. That process starts tomorrow and we’ll see where it goes. At this point he says he hasn’t made any decisions.

On Babcock’s options:
Don’t forget he could also stay in Detroit.  That’s the point of him saying he’s undecided. If he was decided he either would’ve said nothing or he would’ve said [his decision]. He’s got a lot of ties and a lot of time for the Illitch family, so this is going to be really tough for him. If he does leave, that would be the first decision. This is going to be a two-step thing. When he decides it’s time to hit the market, that will be a big story that day, as soon as tomorrow or within the next couple weeks. There’s step A. Step B obviously is him playing the market and seeing what is out there. Let’s see what happens in Boston, are there any teams if they lose badly in the second round are going to fire their coach? I don’t think so, but I guess you wouldn’t want to be Bruce Boudreau if the Flames upset you in the second round. The path seems desirable for the Ducks to get the to a Conference Final right now and that would be the expectations from Ducks management.  Aside from that, I think most of the openings are there. Again, Babcock has to see if this is the route he chooses. At this point, this hour, he hasn’t made that decision.

On potential sleeper teams:
I’m not sure a team comes to mind. I don’t wish anything bad at all to Bruce Boudreau, I think he’s gone an unbelievable job in Anaheim, but, like I said, that’s a series they cant afford to lose I don’t think. Other than that, I think the teams are in front of us that would be in contention. I still think Buffalo is awfully intriguing; although, by not getting McDavid, how much that would hurt them, I don’t know. You know there’s a connection between Tim Murray and Mike Babcock in terms of Tim Murray hiring Mike Babcock for his first NHL coaching gig back in Anaheim eons ago. Obviously the Leafs will make their pitch, and Philadelphia. He’s going to have the pick of the litter. Certainly if he makes the emotional ties to cut ties with Detroit – I say if, because he may stay – but if he leaves, clearly at that point there’s a huge financial pricetag attached to him. In other words, if I am one of these teams; offering a lot of money but offering a lot-a lot of money are two different things. Don’t think you’re going in because you’re X team in a certain market with a great history that that’s going to put you over the edge. There’s a lot of factors here, but the bottom line is don’t fool around with the offer either is my suggestion.

Pierre’s gut feel:
It’s tough to read him. If you’re asking me if he’s staying or leaving, I think I would bet on leaving. . I could be wrong, but I think he’s leaving. I think, at the end of the day, the two teams that would really keep an eye on are Buffalo and Edmonton because of different connections. Tim Murray, the Buffalo connection. In Edmonton, obviously, Bob Nicholson and Peter Chiarelli worked with him at the Olympics. So they’re important connections. We all know who is going to be drafted in Edmonton too so, I think those are the two teams intriguing to me as far as if he does ever decide to leave, going somewhere where he’s getting in on the ground up.

Feb 21, 2015; Dallas, TX, USA; Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock watches his team warm up prior to the game between the Dallas Stars and the Red Wings during the first period at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

SCORING SUMMARY

TORONTO: T. Bodie (S. Carrick, B. Leipsic), B. Mikkelson (M. Frattin, J. Leivo)

GRAND RAPIDS: A. Miele (T. Bertuzzi, N. Paetsch), A. Athanasiou (T. Nosek, M. Tvrdon), T. Bertuzzi (N. Jensen, M. Zengerle), T. Pulkkinen (J. Hoggan, N. Jensen), T. Pulkkinen (X. Oullet)

MARLIES NOTES

  • TROY BODIE opened the scoring for the Marlies after missing the last 11 games due to injury
  • BRENDAN MIKKELSON recorded his first point of the playoffs, a power play goal midway through the third period
  • MATT FRATTIN recorded an assist, he now has three points in the first three games
  • JOSH LEIVO added an assist pushing his point total to five in three playoff games
  • CHRISTOPHER GIBSON made 25 save in defeat, including a penalty shot
  • The Marlies hold a 2-1 lead in the best of five series

- Marlies.ca

Thursday Links:

  • Kyle Cicerella: Marlies have no answers for Teemu Pulkkinen, Griffins get back into series with Game 3 win (Kyle The Reporter)
    Pulkkinen scored twice on Wednesday to lead his Grand Rapids Griffins to a 5-2 victory over the Marlies in Game 3 of their best-of-five first-round series, cutting Toronto’s lead down to 2-1.
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  • Elliotte Friedman: 30 Thoughts — How playoffs affect draft selection (Sportsnet.ca)
    Asked if the Maple Leafs would consider passing up on Mitch Marner in the draft because they already have smallish forwards like William Nylander and Connor Brown, Dubas disagreed. “Here’s the way I look at it,” he said. “Right now, we aren’t good enough to be picky about smaller players. We need as many elite players as we can. If we get into playoffs and are too small, or overwhelmed, it’s easier to trade small for size than draft for size and trade for skill.”
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  • Michael Traikos: Should Leafs fans be hoping for Mike Babcock? Seven spots where the Detroit Red Wings coach could land next season? (National Post)
    For a coach who did not want to talk about his future, Babcock sure sounded like a coach who will not be returning to Detroit. Then again, free agency can change a lot of things. Maybe the Red Wings, who still have Zetterberg and Datsyuk as their leading scorers, a promising young No. 1 goalie in Petr Mrazek and a crop of young players of varying degrees of ability, are just a free agent or two away from convincing Babcock to stay.
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  • Lance Hornby: Plenty of big names floating about for Brendan Shanahan’s Maple Leafs rebuild (Toronto Sun)
    Some familiar names recently let go — such as Capitals boss George McPhee — might want back in the management game. Or Shanahan can take another look at a younger man such as Joe Nieuwendyk, brought in a few years ago as the Leafs’ answer to Steve Yzerman in Tampa, but big-footed by Brian Burke’s arrival and then let go after three years in Dallas.
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  • Helene St. James: Will Red Wings want Babcock? Will Babcock want Wings? (Detroit Free Press)
    Babcock, who turned 52 on Wednesday, is seeking at least $4 million, if not $5 million, per year. General manager Ken Holland has offered $3.25 million per year for four years, which Babcock rejected. Team owner Mike Ilitch is known for being willing to spend, but the Wings have a pay structure, and Babcock’s demands would significantly alter it.

William Nylander vs Grand Rapids Griffins

The Toronto Marlies look to sweep the 2012-2013 Calder Cup champions, the Grand Rapids Griffins, tonight at 7PM on LeafsTV.

TJ Brennan, Byron Froese and Josh Leivo are all tied for playoff scoring leader so far with 4 points over the two games. With a three point performance on Sunday, Brennan is currently tied for second in all-time playoff scoring with 18 points.

Enjoy the game.

Projected Toronto Marlies Lineup

Forwards
Nylander – Froese – Frattin
Leipsic – R.Rupert – Brown
Leivo – Mckegg – Manderson
M. Rupert – Carrick – Bodie

Defence
MacWilliam – Brennan
Percy – Granberg
Mikkelson – Nilsson

Projected Grand Rapids Griffins Lineup

Forwards
Bertuzzi – Miele – Zengerle
Tvrdon – Nosek – Pulkkinen
Mantha – Athanasiou – Porter
Hoggan – Aubry – Hirschfeld

Defence
Paetsch – Ouellet
Evans – Sproul
Lashoff – Jensen

 

Greyhounds Head Coach Sheldon Keefe seen during a game December 17, 2012 at the Essar Centre in Sault Ste Marie Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Kenneth Armstrong

This would seem to be one of Leafland’s worst kept secrets, but Darren Dreger reported yesterday that Soo Greyhounds head coach Sheldon Keefe will likely join his former GM Kyle Dubas in Toronto next season:

In what capacity is the question (Marlies or Leafs, his role). A jump straight into the NHL would be questioned by some; Steve Spott, for instance, may have been rushed through the progression a little bit too quickly and he even spent one season with the Marlies after getting hired out of Kitchener, where he was head coach for five seasons after nine years as an assistant in Kitchener and Plymouth. Keefe, only 34 years old, has just two full (and successful) seasons of OHL coaching under his belt.

At the same time, based on their recent words and actions, it wouldn’t be surprising for Shanahan and Dubas to cast aside concerns about experience and hire him into an assistant spot with the Leafs, knowing they view him as a smart hockey person and that he’s going to be simpatico with Dubas and an analytical approach to decision making.

He could also, and this would follow the more logical progression, take on a role with the Marlies, which would involve working more on the development side and directly under Dubas, GM of the Marlies.

No playoff hockey tonight, so here’s some quality reading below.

Tuesday Links:

  • Damien Cox: Sheldon Keefe builds second career out of second chance (Toronto Star)
    Well, given that Kyle Dubas, assistant GM of the Maple Leafs, was the one who gave him new life in the game and remains an unabashed booster, it’s reasonable to anticipate that Keefe’s name will be coming up in connection with Toronto’s struggling NHL franchise in the coming months when names are raised for coaching positions in the organization.
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    Jeremy P. Rutherford: Ken Hitchcock – ‘I need time’ before deciding on future (St. Louis Dispatch)
    GM Doug Armstrong: “I think when you look at the day he took over, where the ship was headed to where we are now, there’s been a quantum leap. There was hope not to be embarrassed to have expectations to win a Cup. Those goal posts are very wide. I give him the utmost credit doing that, getting us on that task, completing that task of respectability to then (becoming) expectations. What we’re going to evaluate now is ‘What do we have to do now to move this forward?’ I’m not going to put a timeline on it. It’s not going to be ‘You come back in 18 days and I’ll have an answer.’
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  • Kevin McGran: Calgary Flames succeed where Maple Leafs failed (Toronto Star)
    The big Leafs flaw? They were a horrible “possession” team as measured by the fancy-stats community. The whole shots taken to shots allowed differential was going to come back to haunt them, went the logic. The Flames? In the regular season, the Flames (44.2 per cent) had a worst Corsi For percentage (which measures that shot differencital) than the Leafs (46.4).
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  • Jordan Heath-Rawlings: Why Babcock is a bad fit for the Maple Leafs (Sportsnet)
    Babcock’s professional coaching career has consisted of getting maximum effort from teams with established leaders who showcase great talent and superior work ethic. It’s not as though Babcock showed up in Detroit in 2005 and taught Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios how to win.
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  • Dave Hodge: Thumbs up to Trotz and down to the Leafs (TSN.ca)
    It’s been said here before, but thumbs down to the Leafs for not wanting to replace Carlyle with Trotz to start the 2014-15 season. And thumbs up to Barry Trotz for the job he has done in his first season with the Capitals.
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  • David Staples: Dion Phaneuf could help the Oilers, but his cap hit makes little sense for Edmonton  (Edmonton Journal)
    What Stauffer said then is even more telling right now for the Oilers. It’s hard to imagine that the Oilers would be willing to take on Phaneuf’s cap hit, what with Connor McDavid coming to town, with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall all on big contracts already, with Mark Fayne and Benoit Pouliot also having big long-term tickets, and with possible big money deals coming for players like Justin Schultz, Nail Yakupov, Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl in the duration of Phaneuf’s mega-deal.
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  •  Michael Traikos: Leafs prospect Viktor Loov gaining reputation in the AHL for his hard-hitting style 
    In Game 2 of the Calder Cup playoffs on Sunday, which the Marlies won 5-2 to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series, Nastasiuk was crossing the blue line late in the third period when Loov lowered his shoulder and nearly took his opponent’s head off with a devastating hit. Nastasiuk, who needed to be helped off the ice, did not return to the game.

SCORING SUMMARY

TORONTO: M. Frattin (T. Brennan, B. Froese), M. Frattin (W. Nylander, T. Brennan), T. Brennan (B. Froese, W. Nylander), C. Brown (R. Rupert), G. McKegg (B. Froese)

GRAND RAPIDS:
T. Pulkkinen (J. Hoggan, A. Miele), A. Miele (J. Hoggan, M. Zengerle)

MARLIES NOTES

  • With his three point performance, TJ BRENNAN moves into second on the all-time playoff point leaders for the Toronto Marlies (18).  Brennan scored the game winner and added two assists in this afternoon’s game.
  • MATT FRATTIN scored twice, his first points this postseason.  Frattin now has totaled 15 playoff points moving him into a tie for fifth all time on the Marlies playoff point leaders.
  • BYRON FROESE collected three assists, giving him four points the past 2 games.
  • CHRISTOPHER GIBSON made 26 saves, including many key stops during a full five on three disadvantage late in the third, to secure his second victory of the series.
  • CONNOR BROWN scored his first goal of the post season, an empty net effort to seal the victory
  • The Marlies power play went 2/4 while the penalty kill was 3/4
  • The Marlies played in front of a sell-out crowd of 7, 851 fans at Ricoh Coliseum.  Yesterday’s game was attended by 7, 706 fans bringing the two day total to 15, 557.
  • The Marlies now take a 2-0 series lead to Grand Rapids where they will try to close out the best of five series.

- Marlies.ca

***

Monday Links:

  • Kyle Cicerella: Marlies ride special teams to 2-0 series lead on Grand Rapids (Kyle The Reporter)
    Toronto’s penalty kill came up big when needed most, though, and its power play produced at the right time in Game 2 as the Marlies came from behind for a 5-2 win on Sunday for a 2-0 series lead.
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  • Andrew Wainwright: Changes on the horizon for the St. Louis Blues (isportsweb)
    While this is not entirely Hitchcock’s fault, Hitchcock could have made changes to the Blues roster or influenced the decisions of General Manager Doug Armstrong to better St. Louis’ chances. Hitchcock’s contract expires at the end of this season, so it is very possible that his contract is not renewed.
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    Ryan Dadoun: Shattenkirk expects changes, but he supports Hitchcock (Pro Hockey Talk)
    “I guess if you watch the game and you don’t just look at the stat sheet, the core group has been playing some pretty good games since the playoffs,” Oshie said, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford. “We’ve been doing a lot of things that Hitch has been asking us to do, and for whatever reason we haven’t gotten the goals… We just haven’t gotten the goals.”
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  • Ron Clements: Latest playoff collapse is nothing new to the Blues (Sporting News)
    Since losing to the Avalanche in the 2001 Western Conference finals, the Blues have been to the playoffs eight times, but only advanced out of the first round twice.
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  • James Mirtle: Modern NHL general managers need to be smart, rational and ruthless (The Globe and Mail)
    On the good teams, what often costs the GM is loyalty, an issue that goes well beyond Boston. Imagine the group the Los Angeles Kings would have right now if Dean Lombardi had used the appropriate compliance buyout on Mike Richards and never signed captain Dustin Brown to his ridiculous contract?
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SP-MARLIES? TORONTO, ON- OCTOBER 20 - Marlies defenceman T.J. Brennan (3) comes over the boards into the action during the game. The Toronto Marlies defeated the Hamilton Bulldogs 2-1 at the Ricoh Coliseum in Toronto, October 20, 2013. David Cooper/Toronto Star

SCORING SUMMARY

TORONTO: T. Brennan (J. Leivo, A. MacWilliam), Greg McKegg (J. Leivo, C. Brown), M. Rupert (P. Granberg, V. Loov), B. Froese (S. Percy), B. Leipsic (C. Brown), J. Rodewald (J. Leivo), J. Leivo (S. Carrick)

GRAND RAPIDS: A. Athanasiou (X. Oullet, M. Frk), T. Pulkkinen (M. Zengerle, A. Miele), L. Aubry (M. Tvrdon, M. Frk), T. Pulkkinen (A. Mantha, J. Hoggan)

MARLIES NOTES

  • JOSH LEIVO opened his post season with a four point performance, recording three assists and adding an empty net goal
  • CONNOR BROWN continued his scoring pace, recording two assists on the afternoon
  • TJ BRENNAN moved into a tie for fifth on the all-time playoff point leaders for the Marlies, recording his first goal of the post-season and his 15th playoff point as a Marlie
  • GREG MCKEGG recorded his first goal of the post season, the 7th of his Marlie post season career
  • MATT RUPERT and JACK RODEWALD both scored this afternoon, recording their first professional goals, first playoff points and first goals as Marlies
  • BYRON FROESE scored his first goal of the post season with 4 seconds left in the second period, recording his first AHL playoff point
  • The Marlies had 13 players record a point during yesterday’s game
  • CHRISTOPHER GIBSON turned aside 24 shots to earn the victory

- Marlies.ca

Game 2 goes today at 3 p.m. at the Ricoh (available on Rogers TV).

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January 24th, 2015 - TORONTO CANADA - The Toronto Marlies battle against the Hamilton Bulldogs, AHL affiliate of the NHL Montreal Canadiens at Ricoh Coliseum (Photo credit: Christian Bonin/TSGphoto.com)

The Marlies are the AHL’s hottest team, entering the playoffs on a seven game winning streak, but face the 2nd-best in the West, the Grand Rapids Griffins, in a best-of-five Western Conference Quarterfinal series. Game 1 versus goes today at 3 p.m at the Ricoh (Available on Rogers TV).

Game Day Links:

  • TSN: William Nylander vs. Connor Brown in NHL15 – Ample Corsi jokes made (MLHS)
    The two rookie sensations are fast becoming a loveable duo on and off the ice.
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  • Mark Titus: Brendan Leipsic Embracing the Change of Scenery (PHPA)
    Since joining the Marlies, Leipsic has totaled 19 points in 27 games and has formed a dangerous scoring line with Connor Brown and Ryan Rupert.  “We aren’t the biggest guys but we use our speed to our advantage.  We also do a good job of supporting each other down low in the offensive zone. I definitely enjoy playing with those guys and we have a lot of fun as buddies off the ice.”
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  • Gus Katsaros: A quick interview with Morgan Rielly (MLHS)
    On your personal development: This was your sophomore season; a bit of a tough one to go through as a player that’s still developing. What’s it feel like to go through so much adversity at a young stage of your career?
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  • Lance Hornby: Horachek got in ‘tough situation’ with Leafs: Trotz (Toronto Sun)
    “He’s a really good coach,” Trotz said of Horachek, who suffered through 42 games behind the Leafs bench with just nine wins. “He just got into a tough situation there.”
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  • Lance Hornby: Marlies developing Nylander well, pop says (Toronto Sun)
    “It’s a process he’s taken every year with all his teams,” his father said Wednesday, as he watched Nylander and the Marlies practice at Ricoh. “This is a different type of hockey than in Sweden. He’s done a good job here and they’ve done a good job developing him.
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  • Kevin McGran: William Nylander’s confidence grows with Marlies (Toronto Star)
    “For him, it’s a confidence thing,” Marlies coach Gord Dineen said. “He had been playing against men in Sweden. But getting over here, (he was) able to get the feel of the league, the three games in three nights, the travel. Now he knows what it’s all about. He’s got a confidence about him now that he’s making the plays he’s capable of and he’s making his teammates better around him.”
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  • TSN: Dineen – Marlies carrying momentum into playoffs (TSN1050)
    Marlies Head Coach Gord Dineen joins Leafs Lunch to look ahead to their opening games of the playoffs this weekend on TSN 1050 and discusses what fans can expect from William Nylander and Connor Brown.
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