Thursday, May 28, 2015
Authors Posts by Maple Leafs Hot Stove

Maple Leafs Hot Stove

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".

Photo via Facebook Page

It should be a busy day on the media rounds for Leafs players and management to say the least, with the exit interviews coming a day after what’s being described as the biggest, swiftest organizational overhaul in Leafs history.

With the clearcutting more or less complete, we should get some more information on who all remains among the scouts today and maybe some hints about what the direction is going to be in terms of replacements for the jettisoned personnel.

Brendan Shanahan’s press conference will air at 2 p.m. We’ll have the stream up here when the time comes.

Monday Links:

  • Alec Brownscombe ‘Mike Futa could be perfect fit for Leafs GM’ (MLHS)
    Futa seems to walk a nice line amid all these considerations. He’s got a background in scouting and he’s worked with an NHL team for eight years, which is plenty more than the current Leafs front office personnel combined. He’s got two Cup rings to show for it. He checks a lot of the right boxes and seems to mesh well with what’s already in place.
  • Alec Brownscombe: Leafs fire Director of Pro Scouting Steve Kasper and Director of Player Development Jimmy Hughes; Director of Amateur Scouting Dave Morrison expected to stay on (MLHS)
    Kyle Dubas recently spoke at the SAS analytics conference about the need for all levels of management and coaching to be on the same page on their thinking processes when it comes to implementing a more analytical approach to decision making. Clearly, Kasper was more of the old management’s paradigm. That’s reason enough to move on.
  • Alec Brownscombe and Anthony Petrielli: Leafs fire Dave Nonis, Peter Horachek, Steve Spott, Chris Dennis, Rick St. Croix (MLHS)
    Nonis was handed a team with scoring depth and goaltending and ruined the scoring depth, acquired another goalie and never addressed the positions of need (center and defense, aka the two most important positions on the team). This had to happen. Probably should have happened last summer.
  • Bob McKenzie: Shanahan’s new GM must align with Leafs’ vision (
    There is absolutely no doubt Shanahan’s primary hiring focus will be to find a somewhat like-minded individual who can work comfortably in the hockey universe Shanahan has created with Dubas, Hunter and Pridham. That isn’t to say there can’t be discourse – I couldn’t think of two individuals who appear to differ more in style and/or personality more than Dubas and Hunter – but there needs to be some commonality of thought and respect for the established hierarchy.
  • James Mirtle: Leafs’ Shanahan drops the axe, kick-starts long overdue rebuild (The Globe and Mail)
    Finally, no one can deny how poor this team and its prospects (in both senses of the word) actually are. No one could watch 11 wins in the last 51 games and come to any conclusion other than it was an unmitigated mess.
  • Bruce Arthur: Maple Leafs’ bloody Sunday solidifies Shanahan’s power (Toronto Star)
    That is what Shanahan keeps saying, publicly and privately. He doesn’t want to settle. In October he told me that winning a Stanley Cup here running the Leafs would mean more than anything he accomplished as a player. The three Stanley Cups, the gold medal, everything. He was born here and raised here, went to his prom as an 18-year-old NHL player here. His family and friends are still here. He’s emotionally invested in this thing.
  • Chris Johnston: ‘Bloody Sunday’ begins biggest off-season ever (
    On the bright side, this is the perfect time to conduct a search for off-ice talent. There is expected to be an unprecedented amount of turnover around the NHL in the coming weeks, with several high-pedigree coaches likely to be fired and Mike Babcock set to become a free agent.
  • Bruce Arthur: Hard part now starts for Leafs (Toronto Star)
    And then blow the core up, if you can. Not rashly, not stupidly, but thoroughly. Kessel, Dion Phaneuf — who was wistful in his season-ending interview, or as publicly wistful as he gets — Tyler Bozak, Joffrey Lupul, even James van Riemsdyk. Take calls, make calls, keep Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly above all, build for the future. Shanahan has secured the approval of the Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment board to execute a patient process, and it would be a shame to waste it
  • Chemmy: Thoughts on firing of Dave Nonis and Peter Horachek (Pension Plan Puppets)
    We can’t talk about Dave Nonis without recognizing that he was Brian Burke’s second in command. This is where the Brian Burke non-rebuild actually ends, and it’s where we can really evaluate what this executive team did for the Maple Leafs.
  • Jonas Siegel: Nonis failed to see big picture as Leafs GM  (
    Nonis epitomized that approach in securing the mostly-Burke-acquired core of Kessel, Phaneuf, Lupul, Bozak and Clarkson. A group of that caliber in a cap system was never winning a Cup or coming close. Qualifying for the playoffs was even a strain and only in a 48-game season did the group manage that.

Photo: (Veronica Henri/Toronto Sun)

It’s official: Dave Nonis has been let go with two years left on his contract, while the entire Leafs coaching staff has been cleared out.

These six days will always stand out in our memories of Dave Nonis’ tenure. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about how legitimate the team’s modest lockout season success was in the first place, but this was undoubtedly a detrimental week of moves following the 2012-13 season.

It’s been rumoured the current management group views the Leafs’ playoff appearance that year as a major setback to the franchise due to how badly the standing of the team was misjudged by Nonis and his management team. It seems even the Clarkson for Horton swap wasn’t enough to save him in the end. In the big picture, the Leafs have won only 94 of 212 games under Nonis, and their system under him has been nowhere near productive enough when it comes to producing young NHL talent.

In addition to the draft and development side of things, he locked the Leafs into some heavy contracts before the core proved capable of getting the job done. The asset management under Nonis was also nowhere near good enough. Exhibit A: The entire line of Grabovski, Kulemin and MacArthur, once among the more productive in the League, was allowed to walk for the return of negative one compliance buy out. The Leafs were allowed to trot out among the worst group of centers in the League consistently for years, and the defence and center weaknesses, the backbone positions of any NHL team, were left unimproved for far too long.

Nonis’ status as the main holdover from the previous management regime always struck one as awkward. Like with Randy Carlyle, Shanahan bided his time and waited to pull the trigger. If we want to believe he was fairly confident the team wasn’t going anywhere this season, he bought some time before the scrutiny shifts largely onto him and the men he’s brought into the Leaf front office.

In the interim, Mark Hunter is expected to take care of the executive duties while we await the possible addition of a new GM.

As for the coaching staff: Peter Horachek, he really did fall on the sword. He was promoted at a time when the team was right in the cusp of a total bottom out and asked to try to turn it around initially during the worst road trip in hockey. Any games the team were winning early on were largely earned in an unsustainable fashion similar to 2013-14, and as much as he tried to preach the important of a three-zone puck possession game, he couldn’t get it back on the rails. His record will be a real sore sight to look back on, but we all know none of this was really on him. Here was one of his final quotes as Leafs coach last night, which definitely rings true:

“Ultimately, this team had to change. If we continued right where we were in November, we might not make the playoffs, we might be fighting for the playoffs, and even if we make the playoffs, we weren’t going to win. Is that what we want? Do we want to just be competitive, or do we want to build something to win a Stanley Cup? That’s the change we have to make. Not just to be competitive, we have to start thinking about winning and having higher expectations. Our expectations have to go in a new direction — higher – not competitive, not okay, not just okay… that’s ultimately where we were. The same place we were the year before. We were competitive – right there, maybe in the playoffs, maybe out of the playoffs, but it’s not enough.”

With Rick St. Croix out, does Shanahan bring in Sean Burke to work in some capacity as the goalie coach as well maybe a role on the management side of things?

Steve Spott went rather quickly from junior, to the AHL, to the NHL, and now out of a job. Spott was tabbed as a guy who would help bridge a communication gap between the players and coaches; from the outside looking in, it doesn’t look like that happened (granted, none of us are privy to the inner dressing room coach-player relationship dynamics). The Leafs powerplay, which he ran, also seemed to really lack imagination as the season wore on, as no real solution was presented when Kessel was getting closed down on the half wall. The Leafs PP stumbled to a 26th place finish with a 15.6% success rate, which is embarrassing with some of the offensive skill Spott had available to him.

Scattered thoughts:

  • It will be good to get some new eyes on this team. Everyone in Leafs land is ripping apart every single player on the team, so to bring in some new voices from the outside world will help provide a better gauge of where the league still sees, say, Phil Kessel. Or JVR. Or whoever.
  • On that note, a new GM always means this—you are no longer married to the players from the last regime and don’t have to give an excuse as to why you traded a guy that is signed long-term.
  • Steve Spott was responsible for the power play and it was awful. They ended up finishing 26th on the year, often looking disorganized, lacking creativity, or direction. Scott Gordon got criticized, but he oversaw a generally productive power play that finished in the top half of the league twice in a row. Sure they lost Franson, but there was more than enough talent to put out five guys and build something successful.
  • Have to feel bad for Horachek, but understand the decision. Thought he could have stuck as an assistant, but c’est la vie.
  • The Leafs need to hire an entire coaching staff. Burke’s rule was that a new head coach got to bring one assistant with him, but the Leafs will be filling an entire bench of new coaches next year. Will the new guy bring in an entire group with him? Will the Leafs promote someone from the Marlies or hire someone from the OHL (cough cough) to fill a spot? Should be interesting.
  • Mirtle tweeted it sounds possible that Sean Burke will replace Rick St. Croix, which would make sense. Last year under St. Croix Bernier was awesome and almost carried the team into the playoffs. This year both goalies had average seasons. That’s the life of a coach. Burke has had success building goalies back up and on name reputation is probably the best guy you can hire.
  • The Rob Blake connections also make sense. I don’t believe an experienced GM will want to come into a situation where he can’t hire his own team because it is already put in place by Shanahan, and Shanahan is the overseer of everything so it’s not a traditional GM job anymore. A newer executive with the opportunity to be a GM will probably chomp at the bit before an experienced guy.
  • Nonis was handed a team with scoring depth and goaltending and ruined the scoring depth, acquired another goalie and never addressed the positions of need (center and defense, aka the two most important positions on the team). This had to happen. Probably should have happened last summer.
  • This was essentially a wasted of season of firing Carlyle and Nonis when most everyone knew it should have happened last summer.
  • The team tried to tank, come January. Shanahan trying to sign Bolland and personally attempting to get Josh Gorges to waive his no trade clause is not tanking. But they saw where this was going around December and traded away everything, bringing back non-NHLers like Lindstrom and Sill to plug holes and making the team worse. It all worked out in the end, but for the record it’s revisionist history to say the Leafs were trying to be bad.

Article by Alec Brownscombe and Anthony Petrielli

Peter Horachek

“Ultimately, this team had to change. If we continued right where we were in November, we might not make the playoffs, we might be fighting for the playoffs, and even if we make the playoffs, we weren’t going to win. Is that what we want? Do we want to just be competitive, or do we want to build something to win a Stanley Cup? That’s the change we have to make. Not just to be competitive, we have to start thinking about winning and having higher expectations. Our expectations have to go in a new direction — higher – not competitive, not okay, not just okay… that’s ultimately where we were. The same place we were the year before. We were competitive – right there, maybe in the playoffs, maybe out of the playoffs, but it’s not enough.”

Dion Phaneuf

by -
image by Jack Landau,

As the last billow of black smoke dissipated from the tirefire that was the 2014-15 Leafs season, Damien Cox had the latest on the next steps in Brendan Shanahan’s continued overhaul of the Leafs organization.

Peter Horachek’s out as expected, but nothing conclusive still on Nonis:

Cox also mentions two names that have been in the rumour circles for a while as possible front office adds:

The word on Rob Blake for a few months now has been that he’s very comfortable in Los Angeles and has zero intention of leaving this offseason. As for Sean Burke, he’s known to be actively seeking out a management position after gaining a solid reputation for his work as a goalie coach, most notably for helping to overhaul Devan Dunbyk’s game while he was in Arizona and his NHL career was hanging on by a thread.

What are the meetings with Dave Nonis all about? If he’s getting fired outright, why a few days of meetings first? Very likely the coaching staff will be cleared out, but it’s far from clear yet what Brendan Shanahan intends to do with the GM position. It seems awkward and unlikely that an experienced GM would enter a situation in which his assistants have been hired by someone else (Shanahan). That doesn’t necessarily mean Nonis will or should remain in his current role, though. Firing Nonis and plucking an up and coming GM from an assistant’s role somewhere else in the League, who can mesh into what Shanahan’s already building, might be the route the Leafs take.

Outside of the GM post, Brendan Shanahan has also left the scouting and development staffs largely untouched to date. All the pro scouts remain from before he arrived, led by the Director of Pro Scouting, Steve Kasper. Director of Player Development Jim Hughes was a Burke hire. Director of Amateur Scouting Dave Morrison has held his role since the John Ferguson Jr. regime.

There’s little sense in speculating at this point and more sense in waiting for Monday before speaking, because even those whose job it is to report on this stuff don’t seem to have any idea what Brendan Shanahan will do.

by -
Photo: Tom Szczerbowski, USA Today

The Leafs’ draft position is locked in at fourth, and for the first time in a long time Leafs fans can feel no inner conflict about cheering for a win.

The Canadiens do have something to play for, clinching an Atlantic Division title, which is something the Leafs can spoil with a regulation win combined with a Lightning regulation or overtime-shootout win. As for playoff opponents, whether the Habs finish with the Atlantic Division title or not their current matchup (Red Wings) may not change depending on how the Wings and Lightning finish up their seasons.

This game marks the formal conclusion of a Leafs season that was over a long, long time ago. Try to enjoy the final 60 minutes of Leafs hockey for the 2014-15 season; failing that, the changes continue starting Monday:

Montreal Canadiens Projected Lines

Alex Galchenyuk – Tomas Plekanec – Brendan Gallagher
Devante Smith-Pelly – David Desharnais – Pierre-Alexandre Parenteau
Jacob De La Rose – Lars Eller – Dale Weise
Brandon Prust – Torrey Mitchell – Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Alexei Emelin – Jeff Petry
Nathan Beaulieu – Greg Pateryn

Carey Price
Dustin Tokarski

Scratched: Manny Malhotra, Sergei Gonchar, Greg Pateryn, Mike Weaver.
Injured: Max Pacioretty (upper body) Tom Gilbert (upper body).

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Richard Panik – Nazem Kadri – Joakim Lindstrom
David Booth – Peter Holland – Joffrey Lupul
Brandon Kozun / Casey Bailey – Zach Sill – Colton Orr

Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Andrew MacWilliam – Tim Erixon

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Casey Bailey / Brandon Kozun, Leo Komarov
Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia), Trevor Smith (upper body)

Status report: Komarov practiced Friday, but did not take the morning skate and is not expected to play. … Gilbert is expected to miss his second straight game for the Canadiens.

Who’s hot: Van Riemsdyk has scored in three of Toronto’s past four games and has three goals and six points in the past six games. … Rielly has points in four of his past seven games. … Brewer has three points in the past four games. … Plekanec has scored in Montreal’s past three games. He has five points in that span.

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/

A three point game from William Nylander (1g,2a) and another goal and assist from the red-hot Brendan Leipsic sent the Marlies to a 5-1 win over the Rochester Americans Saturday afternoon.

Connor Brown hit the 20-goal mark in his rookie campaign with an empty netter to seal the win (he scored an empty netter last night, too). He’s now at 60 points in 73 games and, with a five point lead on next best Charles Hudon, looks like he will win the rookie scoring title in the AHL this season.

by -
New Toronto Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan, left, looks over at Maple Leafs General Manager Dave Nonis during a news conference in Toronto on Monday, April 14, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

Darren Dreger, on TSN Radio yesterday, discussed the future of Dave Nonis and some of the big questions facing Brendan Shanahan this spring and summer.

On Shanahan’s upcoming decisions:
One thing about Brendan Shanahan — he’s gone about his business almost stealth like. He’s not whispering in the ears of many media people; that’s not the game that Shanahan plays. But who among us would be surprised if he emerges at some point early next week, or next week, or the latest the week after, and announces the dismissal of Dave Nonis? You couldn’t be surprised by that. I know there’s a lot of nervous people around the organization, from the scouting department to those with expiring contracts who haven’t been given any direction. That’s all part of it because Shanahan has to look at the big picture. The big picture isn’t next week or week after; it’s 5 years from now, is it going to be a contending team? That is going to be the mandate.

On Peter Horachek’s (likely) imminent dismissal after the season finale and possible replacements:
They wouldn’t hire anyone at [this] stage. I don’t think anyone should be surprised. It depends on the coach that Toronto is confident they are going to be able to land. If Shanahan actually believes he can bring in Babcock, he has to clear the slate. Babcock isn’t going to want this guy or that guy hanging around. He’s going to want total autonomy behind the bench. If, and it’s an enormous if, Babcock decides to leave the Red Wings for the Leafs, or any other team, he is going to want considerable say in personnel as well. It would almost become the NFL model where you’re a coach but also a pretty key participant in the management decisions. It’s unusual because the league has evolved beyond that. Pat Quinn once was the coach and GM for the Toronto Maple Leafs; we’ve seen it in the past, but in recent history teams have gotten away from that. I’m not suggesting Babcock is going to get both titles, but I do believe he wants a big piece of player personnel. Is that the right model for the Maple Leafs? Money isn’t going to be an object. They’ll replace their coaching staff, but is it Babcock or McLellan or is it a younger coach, those are the questions that still need some time to answer.

Could the assistant coaches remain?
I think it’s a bit of a long shot to be honest. Again, we’re trying to get into the head of Brendan Shanahan and what he’s thinking. He may not have made that full determination. It could depend on the head coach you’re bringing in. If you’re going on a full on rebuild and we know Toronto is, I think you have to hit all areas, don’t you? He’s done that already to some degree.

Obviously Mark Hunter is safe, that’s his guy, Kyle Dubas, Pridham — all these guys that were brought in from the management perspective. That’s part of the rebuild. I look at Steve Spott as an example on that bench for the Maple Leafs; this guy, I’m told, is going to be a good NHL coach one day. He’s not ready to be just yet. What happens to him? He helped you out. It probably wasn’t his idea to leave the Toronto Marlies and jump on the bench of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He did it because he was asked to do it. Is he just cast aside and allowed to become a free agent for someone else to pick up? I’d be a little surprised if that coaching staff in its current state was around for the rebuild.

More on possible replacements and if Nonis will be back:
When you’re looking at that level of coach — I put Babcock, Julien, Quenneville, Vigneault on a higher level frankly based on accomplishment – if Julien is cut loose, does he really want to go through a 5-6-7 year rebuild? That’s the reason we’ve kind of parked the Babcock rumours until very recently. If you’re a free agent coach, if Babcock is pushing away, unless he’s is chasing McDavid which he could, then he could have his pick of the litter. The same applies to Claude Julien. Based on the coaches recently who have been head coach for the Leafs – Carlyle, Wilson, Maurice – the lure of the Maple Leaf brand is tremendous. Each one of these coaches, the managers – Brian Burke, Brendan Shanahan – they have enormous egos, and they all believe to a man they’re going to change the direction of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Everyone before now hasn’t been able to do that. That’s Shanahan’s task. He has some history as a player behind him, but he doesn’t have management experience. This is going to be tricky for him. What I’ve learned from watching him is he is very, very, methodical. He might seem heartless in certain situations, but his job is to rebuild, and if Dave Nonis is not part of it, he’s got to go regardless of the term. And the coaches, they’ve got to go. He’s been patient to date and he’ll be patient moving forward in terms of filling positions because you have to absolutely know who is going to be available to make sure you’ve made the best hires.

These guys are smart individuals. We’ve all been in tough situations professionally, and you can feel it, you can sense it. I don’t know that Dave Nonis senses that there is any sense of imminent doom coming his way. In fact, last time I talked to him last week there wasn’t any of that. He was looking at meetings coming up, and they’re preparing for this and that. [Thursday] night he was at the TD Garden in Boston for the Frozen Four games. This guy is going about his business. If he gets fired with three years left, of course he’s going to wish he did more but he wasn’t able to do it for a variety reasons and he understands the business better than anybody. Guys like that are also hired very quickly, it’s all a part of the job.

Brendan Leipsic

A goal and an assist from Brendan Leipsic — extending his points streak to three games, with four goals and seven points in those three games — along with goals from Connor Brown and Sam Carrick sent the Marlies to a 3-1 win over Rochester in the first game of a back to back.

Three players who look to have NHL futures, and all good news for the Marlies if they can keep this up and secure a playoff berth over their remaining five games. The Marlies are now eighth place in the Western Conference, inside the playoff cut.

TJ Brennan added two assists, taking him to nine points in his last five games as the re-acquisition has gone as planned. Christopher Gibson picked up his 22nd win of the season after stopping 21 of 22 shots.

Updated Standings:

Screenshot 2015-04-11 03.39.53

Kyle Dubas Post Game:

2015 NHL Draft
2015 NHL Draft

With Carolina’s win over Philadelphia tonight, the Maple Leafs have unofficially secured the fourth overall draft pick, pending the April 18 lottery results.

Assuming either the Leafs or someone above them win the lottery (a 54.5% probability), this draft selection will be the highest the Leafs have made since they drafted Scott Thornton third overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft. It comes in a generational draft year where fourth overall projects to be more than your average fourth overall pick.

That’s the type of news Leafs fans have sorely been craving after the worst three months in recent team history.

(Fewest Pts. to Most)New Draft Lottery Odds

Here is a list of NHL draft rankings pulled from various scouting services/websites.

2015 NHL Draft Rankings

ISS=International Scouting Service
BM=Bob McKenzie
CB=Craig Button
McDavid, ConnorLC6.00.75195ErieOHL111111
Eichel, JackRC6.02196Boston U.H.E.222222
Hanifin, NoahLD6.02.75203Boston C.H.E.1243333
Strome, DylanLC6.03185ErieOHL334864
Marner, MitchellRC5.11160LondonOHL467455
Crouse, LawsonLW6.04215KingstonOHL1155686
Provorov, IvanLD6.00.5201BrandonWHL5965712
Werenski, ZachRD6.02206MichiganBigTen61110798
Rantanen, MikkoRW6.03.5211TPS TurkuFinE147812199
Barzal, MathewRC5.11.25175SeattleWHL1889101710
Zacha, PavelLC6.03210SarniaOHL281014947
Connor, KyleLC6.01177YoungstownUSHL71318141113
Ek Eriksson, JoelLC6.01.75180FarjestadSweJE022018043
Meier, TimoRW6.01209HalifaxQMJHL91512131520
Senyshyn, ZacharyRW6.01192S.S. MarieOHL51280000
Konecny, TravisRC5.09.75175OttawaOHL231215112015
Bittner, PaulLW6.04204PortlandWHL24142520014
Merkley, NickRC5.10.5191KelownaWHL131813171619
Bracco, JeremyRW5.09.25173U18 NTDPUSHL492700029
Chabot, ThomasLD6.01.5180Saint JohnQMJHL101923151227
Svechnikov, EvgenyRW6.01.75199Cape BretonQMJHL151617231821
Zboril, JakubLD6.00.75184Saint JohnQMJHL202019162116
Kylington, OliverRD6180FarjestadSweE292411271311
Carlsson, GabrielLD6.04183LinkopingSweJE84300000
Harkins, JansenC/LW6.01.25182Prince GeorgeWHL16252702531
Larsson, JacobLD6.02191FrolundaSweJE4126025033
Roy, JeremyRD6188SherbrookeQMJHL212921221025
White, ColinRW6183U18 NTDPUSHL332320192618
Greenway, JordanLW6.04.75222U18 NTDPUSHL6617280022
Carlo, BrandonRD6.05196Tri-CityWHL452126212217
Boeser, BrockRW6'1187WaterlookUSHL800000

Probably the most controversial part of this table, we asked Gus Katsaros to clarify the surprisingly low rank on Dylan Strome in the McKeen’s rankings:

The Otters forward’s primary concern is slushy feet, a trait that can be worked on and overcome – similar to brother Ryan. There’s definite touch and skill at the end of his blade.

The ranking in March was precipitated by the stories being written about the players around that range, Mitch Marner was pushing the case to be ranked 3rd overall while Ivan Provorov and Zach Werenski threw themselves in the mix after what seems to be a stable top two (McDavid, Eichel). He was listed as 6th in the previous ranking so a drop to 8th isn’t that great a drop.

Player rankings fluctuate (sometimes unjustly) in their draft year, but usually within a range and Strome falls in that range from 4th to 8th, and other players and team valuations could influence that selection very quickly on draft day. Sean Couturier is a prime example of a player highly touted dropping to 8th overall, yet is a prime contributor to the Flyers.

Thursday Links:

  • Chris Johnston: Maple Leafs call up Colton Orr for season finale (Sportsnet)
    This has been a dark, dark season for the Maple Leafs. Even on a micro level there hasn’t been much to celebrate. But the decision to recall Colton Orr from the American Hockey League and give him one more NHL game should be. It is a fitting thank you for a player that embodied professionalism during six seasons with the organization.
  • Rinat Valiev will join the Marlies with his WHL season in the books:

    The Marlies have oftentimes brought in younger eligible prospects at the end of their junior seasons to practice with the team and make use of their facilities; it’s not clear whether he’ll get into games or not.

  • Anthony Petrielli: Leafs Notebook – April 9 (MLHS)
    If there was one thing I thought would be money in the bank for the Leafs this season, it would have been goaltending. Currently, they are 25th in the league in team save percentage. Last season stellar goaltending almost got them into the playoffs, and while poor goaltending hasn’t been their undoing this year, a return to form would change things in a hurry for the Leafs moving forward.
  • Kyle Cicerella: Leafs management optimistic about their up and coming goalies (Kyle The Reporter)
    Toronto currently has three, young goaltenders— Christopher Gibson, Antoine Bibeau and Garret Sparks— who have all had some form of success this season in the minors, which has left Leafs assistant general manager Kyle Dubas optimistic about the club’s future at goal.
  • Steve Simmons: Maple Leafs boss Brendan Shanahan facing major decisions (Toronto Sun)
    Nonis has three years left on his contract. That won’t factor in Shanahan’s decision. What will factor is this: Who is the best for the job now and going forward? Who can work best with him, with the assistants Shanahan has brought in, with the close-knit staff he is forming in the Leafs front office.

COLUMBUS, OH - OCTOBER 31: Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs scores a goal during the first period of a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets on October 31, 2014 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/NHLI via Getty Images)

The situation is this as far as the draft positioning stakes in the final two games: The 26th-placed Hurricanes are two points ahead of the 27th-placed Leafs and the two teams are even in games played with 80GP. If the Leafs split their final two against the Blue Jackets and Canadiens, they’ll need the Canes to grab a point in one of their final two games with Philadelphia and Detroit.

The Leafs hold the tiebreaker with Carolina currently due to one more regulation-overtime win.

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel.
Joakim Lindstrom – Nazem Kadri – Richard Panik
Leo Komarov – Peter Holland – Joffrey Lupul
David Booth – Zach Sill – Casey Bailey

Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Andrew MacWilliam – Tim Erixon

James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Injured: Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia), Trevor Smith (upper body)

Blue Jackets Projected Lines

Boone Jenner – Ryan Johansen – Cam Atkinson
Brandon Dubinsky – Artem Anisimov – Nick Foligno
Scott Hartnell – Alexander Wennberg – Marko Dano
Matt Calvert – Mark Letestu – Jeremy Morin

Jack Johnson – David Savard
Justin Falk – Dalton Prout
Ryan Murray – Cody Goloubef

Sergei Bobrovsky
Curtis McElhinney

Scratched: Corey Tropp, Jared Boll, Kevin Connauton
Injured: David Clarkson (oblique), Jack Skille (shoulder), Rene Bourque (back), Fedor Tyutin (undisclosed)

Status report: Falk will play his second straight game for the injured Tyutin. … Connauton will be a healthy scratch with the return of Murray. … Bernier is scheduled to be the starter in the season finale against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday. (

Who’s hot: van Riemsdyk has goals in three straight games and six points in his past five. … Rielly has one goal and three assists in the past six games. … Dubinsky has three goals and four assists in a five-game points streak. … Columbus has 40 goals in the past 10 games. (

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/

A hat trick from Brendan Leipsic and a goal and an assist from William Nylander sent the Marlies to a vital 7-4 win over the Adirondack Flames last night.

The current playoff situation with six games to go:

Screenshot 2015-04-08 01.48.08


Wednesday Links:

  • Mark Zwolinski: Five head coaching candidates for Maple Leafs (Toronto Star)
    In an ideal world, Babcock would change scenery, opt out of resigning with Detroit, then break the bank with his coaching salary in Toronto and set a new pay bar for NHL coaches. It’s the scenario that everyone is talking about in Toronto. Not Babcock, though.
  • Stephen Whyno: David Booth finds success amid team’s dysfunction (National Post)
    Booth has arguably been the Leafs’ best player since the deadline with six goals and two assists. He’s played well enough to earn himself another NHL contract, whether it’s in Toronto or elsewhere.
  • Mark Masters: Leafs Week – Year End Assessment (TSN)
    In this edition of Leafs Week, Jonas Siegel and Mark Masters share their thoughts on who the best and worst players were this year for Toronto, the biggest question mark on the roster and more.
  • Katie Flynn: The Leafs can’t win or lose properly, and it’s not their fault (PPP)
    The Maple Leafs have an issue with taking the path of least resistance. October was a .500 month, November was a 7-4-2 month including the 6-2 loss to Buffalo and 9-2 loss to Nashville. December (6-6-3) was the beginning of the end. The hope that existed quickly disintegrated and festered into anger. A mediocre team will get you a mediocre draft pick and leaves you in the mushy middle moving forward.
  • Lineup Notes vs. Columbus:

TORONTO , ON - FEBRUARY 26: Dion Phaneuf #3 and Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs stop Wayne Simmonds #17 of the Philadelphia Flyers during game action on February 26, 2015 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Monday Links:

  • Jonas Siegel: Bernier ready to stick with Leafs through rebuild (
    “I think rebuild is a big word first of all. Sometimes you’re just missing a couple pieces to really get to the point where you want to be. But I definitely like it here…Whatever decisions they’re going to make in the summer or the next couple years or whatever it is, I’d definitely like to be part of it. Personally I don’t think we’re that far. But yeah, I’d love to stay here and for a long time obviously.”
  • James Mirtle: Maple Leafs now guaranteed a good draft pick: Likely first, fourth or fifth (The Globe and Mail)
    Skittish Leafs fans have been worried about this sort of run for a while. They remember all-too well how J-S Aubin went 9-0-2 at the tail end of 2006 to drop their draft pick from eighth overall to 13th. (They took Jiri Tlusty and missed out on Kyle Okposo and Bryan Little, among others.) This year is different, though: They’re too late.
  • Jeffler: Marlies Week in Review — An Uphill Battle (Pension Plan Puppets)
    a while, it was all going so well. The Toronto Marlies were picking up easy points, tough points, good points, bad points. Just… lots of points, points that they weren’t getting at the start of the year as they hung out in the American Hockey League’s basement. But now, as the points start to really count and the playoffs become even more attainable, the team hit the breaks.
  • CBC News: Maple Leafs fan Bobby Desmond lives out lifelong dream (CBC)
    A Maple Leafs superfan from Halifax was able to live out a lifelong dream last night, thanks to an anonymous benefactor. Northwood resident Bobby Desmond watched his favourite team beat the Ottawa Senators Sunday night at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. The 63-year-old man has cerebral palsy and lives in a continuing care facility, where his love of the Leafs is evident
  • Michael Traikos: Peter Holland unwilling to pack it in: ‘We’re trying to be spoilers’ (National Post)
    “Internally in our dressing room we’re trying to be spoilers,” said Holland, who smiled devilishly after a win that held the Senators to within two points of the Bruins, Penguins and Red Wings for one of the final two playoff spots. “Give us some motivation to show up and play hard. We know Ottawa’s obviously fighting hard for a spot. We wanted to make it tough for them tonight.”

OTTAWA, ON: APRIL 20, 2013 --Milan Michalek of the Ottawa Senators is hit by Dion Phaneuf of the Toronto Maple Leafs during first period NHL action at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, April 20, 2013. Photo by Jean Levac/OTTAWA CITIZEN For Ottawa Citizen

If we assume the fourth overall pick is secure, this is an opportunity to play spoiler. The Leafs usually beat the Sens regardless of the circumstances going in, and dealing a death blow to their playoff hopes might be good for a laugh. At the same time, that only helps the Boston Bruins’ cause. That said, the Penguins slump has put some interesting possibilities into play as far as the final two wildcard positions are concerned. Come the end of this week, three of Detroit, Pittsburgh, Ottawa and Boston will make it and one will miss.

Ottawa Senators Projected Lines

Clarke MacArthur– Kyle Turris – Mark Stone
Zack Smith – Mika Zibanejad – Bobby Ryan
Erik Condra – Jean-Gabriel Pageau – Curtis Lazar
Mike Hoffman – David Legwand – Alex Chiasson
Marc Methot – Erik Karlsson

Patrick Wiercioch- Cody Ceci
Mark Borowiecki – Eric Gryba

Andrew Hammond
Craig Anderson

Scratched: Colin Greening, Jared Cowen
Injured: Robin Lehner (concussion), Chris Phillips (back), Chris Neil (thumb), Milan Michalek (upper body), Matt Puempel (ankle)

Maple Leafs Projected Lines

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Joakim Lindstrom
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joffrey Lupul
Casey Bailey – Zach Sill – Richard Panik

Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Tim Erixon – TJ Brennan

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Injured: Peter Holland (lower body), Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia)

Status report: The Senators are expected to go with the same lineup they have used in their past four games. … The Maple Leafs may insert Kozun into the lineup. If he plays, Bailey would likely be scratched. (

Who’s hot: Van Riemsdyk has scored in back-to-back games for the Maple Leafs and has five points in the past four games. …. Rielly has four points in the past four games for Toronto. … Turris has a goal and three points in two games for the Senators. … After losing his only game in regulation the NHL on March 26, Hammond has bounced back with three straight victories. (

Toronto Maple Leafs vs Boston Bruins
TORONTO, ON - NOVEMBER 12: James van Riemsdyk #21 of the Toronto Maple Leafs tips the puck (goal) against Niklas Svedberg #72 and Dennis Seidenberg #44 of the Boston Bruins during NHL game action November 12, 2014 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Graig Abel/NHLI via Getty Images)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Joakim Lindstrom
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joffrey Lupul
Casey Bailey – Zach Sill – Richard Panik

Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Tim Erixon – TJ Brennan

James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Injured: Peter Holland (lower body), Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia)

Boston Bruins Projected Lineup

Brad Marchand – Patrice Bergeron – David Krejci
Milan Lucic – Ryan Spooner – Brett Connolly
Loui Eriksson – Carl Soderberg – Reilly Smith
Chris Kelly – Gregory Campbell – David Pastrnak

Zdeno Chara – Zach Trotman
Torey Krug – Dennis Seidenberg
Matt Bartkowski – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask
Niklas Svedberg

Scratched: Daniel Paille, Max Talbot
Injured: Dougie Hamilton (ribs), Kevan Miller (shoulder)

Status report: Julien left the door open for line changes after the morning skate. But the trios that took line rushes were the ones that finished the game in Detroit on Thursday.

Who’s hot: Reimer has won his past two starts in net for the Maple Leafs. … Spooner has a five-game scoring streak with three goals and six points in that span.

Photo: NHLI via Getty Images

A back to back with the Bruins and Senators this weekend means if their two division rivals want the final wildcard spot, they’ll have to go through these Toronto Maple Leafs!

…. 4 more games to go.

Friday Links:

  • Elliotte Freidman: 30 Thoughts — April 3rd (
    Interesting thought that would play into any potential Dion Phaneuf to Detroit trade: The Red Wings have plenty of cap room, but remember Justin Abdelkader, Danny DeKeyser, Darren Helm, Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan and Brendan Smith make a little less than a combined $9.5 million right now. All of their contracts are up by the summer of 2016. What will their total be in two seasons, $25 million? How does that affect any potential trade for a higher-salaried player?
  • Sean McIndoe: Predicting and breaking down the NHL’s first playoff round (Grantland)
    We’re now down to 10 days left in the NHL schedule, which means we can start looking ahead to the postseason. Sure, we’ve all secretly been doing that since mid-January,1 but now we can admit it. The playoffs are almost here. And it’s time to start figuring out which matchups to root for.
  • ThePHWA: 2015 Masterton Nominees (Professional Hockey Writer’s Association)
    Stephane Robidas is the Leafs’ nominee:  There were doubts that a 37-year-old defenseman coming off two broken legs could make the Maple Leafs, yet alone have an impact. But Robidas helped stabilize a Toronto blueline under very trying circumstances. On many occasions, coaches and teammates cited his influence in the improvements made by the younger Leaf defensemen, notably Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly.
  • Nate Silver: A radical proposal to destroy the NHL’s loser point (Five Thirty Eight)
    This is more than a minor annoyance; the loser point has already changed the identity of at least one NHL champion. In 2012, the Los Angeles Kings finished with 40 wins and 42 losses; they made the playoffs ahead of the 42-40 Dallas Stars because they accumulated 15 loser points to the Stars’ five. Then the Kings went on to win the Stanley Cup.
  • Kyle Cicerella: Kyle Dubas, Leafs taking baseball approach to minor league system (Kyle The Reporter)
    “I think the perception of the ECHL is that the player is going there for punishment or he’s really struggled. We want to use it as entry level to pro hockey for younger players to start out there.”
  • CBC News: Maple Leafs superfan Bobby Desmond gets send off to Toronto (CBC)
    Thanks to a donor, the 63-year-old Halifax man with cerebral palsy, two nurses and an occupational therapist are being flown to see the Leafs take on the Ottawa Senators on Easter Sunday.
  • Curt Snoddon: Maple Leafs Prospect Update: 2014-15 Wrap Up (MLHS)
    Outside of the AHL, Andreas Johnson had another monster season in the SHL. The 21 year old finished the season 3rd in scoring among players 24-years old and younger, and was 5th in goals scored in the entire league.

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Joakim Lindstrom
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joffrey Lupul
Casey Bailey – Zach Sill – Richard Panik

Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Tim Erixon – TJ Brennan

Jonathan Bernier
James Reimer

Scratched: Brandon Kozun
Injured: Peter Holland (lower body), Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia)

Buffalo Sabres Projected Lineup

Matt Moulson – Johan Larsson – Tyler Ennis
Marcus Foligno – Mikhail Grigorenko – Brian Gionta
Cody Hodgson – Matt Ellis – Zac Dalpe
Nicolas Deslauriers – Philip Varone – Patrick Kaleta

Andre Benoit – Zach Bogosian
Mike Weber – Tyson Strachan
Nikita Zadorov – Andrej Meszaros

Anders Lindback
Andrey Makarov

Scratched: Rasmus Ristolainen (illness)

Injured: Matt Hackett (lower body), Jerry D’Amigo (facial surgery), Zemgus Girgensons (lower body), Josh Gorges (lower body), Chad Johnson (lower body), Cody McCormick (blood clots), Evander Kane (shoulder)

Status report: With Ennis back in the lineup, forward Tim Schaller was sent back to Rochester of the AHL.

Who’s hot: Meszaros has four goals the past two games. He scored three goals in his previous 52. Ristolainen has a three-game point streak and has three goals and an assist during that time… Rielly has a three-game point streak with a goal and two assists. (

by -
Toronto Maple Leafs vs Tampa Bay Lightning
TAMPA, FL - MARCH 5: Vladislav Namestnikov #90 of the Tampa Bay Lightning deflects the puck into the net of goalie Jonathan Bernier #45 of the Toronto Maple Leafs after battling against Jake Gardiner #51 during the third period at the Amalie Arena on March 5, 2015 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)

Tampa Bay Lightning Projected Lineup

Alex Killorn – Valtteri Filppula – Steven Stamkos
Ondrej Palat – Vladislav Namestnikov – Nikita Kucherov
Jonathan Drouin – Cedric Paquette – Ryan Callahan
Brenden Morrow – Brian Boyle- J.T. Brown

Mark Barberio – Matthew Carle
Nikita Nesterov – Anton Stralman
Luke Witkowski – Slater Koekkoek

Ben Bishop
Andrei Vasilevskiy

Scratched: none

Injured: Victor Hedman (lower body), Tyler Johnson (upper body), Andrej Sustr (upper body), Jason Garrison (upper body), Braydon Coburn (lower body)

Toronto Maple Leafs Projected Lineup

James van Riemsdyk – Tyler Bozak – Phil Kessel
Leo Komarov – Nazem Kadri – Joffrey Lupul
Zach Sill – Sam Carrick – Richard Panik
David Booth – Trevor Smith – Joakim Lindstrom

Eric Brewer – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – Morgan Rielly
Tim Erixon – TJ Brennan

James Reimer
Jonathan Bernier

Scratched: Casey Bailey, Brandon Kozun

Injured: Peter Holland (lower body), Nathan Horton (back), Stephane Robidas (shoulder), Roman Polak (sports hernia)

Status report: Johnson, who is considered day-to-day, will miss a second straight game. … Boyle has spent a good deal of time in the past two games playing defense with the recent losses of Coburn, Garrison, Sustr and Hedman. (

Who’s hot: Namestnikov had two goals and one assist Monday and Drouin scored his third goal of the season, snapping a 42-game drought. Bishop assisted on the first two goals, giving him four assists on the season. … Bozak had a third-period hat trick against the Senators and assisted on Brewer’s goal in overtime. … Rielly has assists in back-to-back games. (