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In part five of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at Toronto young guns, and whether or not they can continue their consistent contributions.

A team’s fortunes can be decided on the shoulders of their young players, be it their rookies or their sophomores.  There are plenty of examples of young players who can help their club catch lightning in the bottle, and help them surpass the expectations set earlier in the offseason by the majority of pundits.

Of course for every example of that, there are also counter examples of teams who perhaps relied too heavily on rookies, or second year players, to help pace the offense, only to have things not go according to plans.

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In part three of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at whether Mike Komisarek can rebound from a tumultuous first season in Blue and White.

It’s no secret that Brian Burke likes his hockey teams to be, for the most part, big, nasty, and in your face physical.  He also has a penchant for looking for players from his home country of the United States, but as he said, he would sign players who were from the moon if they could play the game.

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In part two of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth looks at the Leafs goaltending of the past, and whether this year’s tandem can provide them with healthy, consistent efforts.

The NHL goaltender.

It has been said that there is no more important position in all of pro sports.  And if you believe that, it’s quite easy to see why the Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had much regular season success in the post lockout NHL, and why the post season has eluded them.

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In part one of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at whether the Maple Leafs new captain can return to form.

January 31st will forever be a day that will have historical significance for the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, and all its fans.  How large of a significance it will have in the grand scheme of things has yet to be determined, but in many ways, it could be argued that it was the day the franchise turned the corner.

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Brett Lebda

Brett Lebda

The newest addition to a strong Leafs blueline

Brett Lebda has barely registered on the radar for Leafs fans and with good reason. This offseason is yet again centered solely on Tomas Kaberle, while Lebda toils away on the bottom pairing in many fans’ minds. Expectations are understandably low for Lebda, so it now becomes important to gauge proper expectations. All stats not specifically referenced are found on BehindtheNet.ca.

Lebda primarily played with two people in 2009-10. Those players are Jonathan Ericsson and Brad Stuart (courtesy of DobberHockey.com). Lebda registered the fewest points in the trio at 8, with Ericsson amassing 13 and Stuart putting up 20. Lebda’s -2 rating is by no means a good stat to have, but it is significantly better than Stuart’s -12 and Ericsson’s -15. So in looking at these basic stats, we find that Lebda is average defensively and sub-par offensively. However, do advanced statistics shed any more light on his overall play? Let’s find out.

McKeen's Hockey Annual Yearbook

It’s been quite the time span since my last post here. But as many of you know, I’ve been working on the McKeen’s Hockey Annual Yearbook. That is in addition to the work on the player profiles for the Maple Leafs Annual.

So to kick things off, and to change the subject from Tomas Kaberle, here are my player predictions for the Maple Leafs this season after the jump.
(NOTE*** Predictions appearing the McKeen’s Annual Yearbook are decided as a collective from many different sources. These values will unlikely appear as they indicated below in the publication.)

$12.99, 128 pages, no ads, all Leafs.

The Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual is back for it’s second edition, jam packed with even more Leafs coverage, analysis and inside access than the year before. Preorders will ship on August 17 and include a $5.00 shipping charge. Yes, Kaberle remained a Leaf by the final deadline, because apparently it was just SO out of the way for Burke to deal him at our convenience. It matters not, just read some of these highlights:

  • Detailed player by player scouting information, advanced statistics and innovative statistical graphics for the 2010-11 roster

  • An interview with GM Brian Burke on change and the outlook for 2010-11

  • A look at the controversial legacy of 1960s Leafs head coach Punch Imlach, with reflections from Leaf greats Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Dick Duff, Larry Hillman & more

  • A position by position look at the 2010-11 Leafs roster

  • The inside scoop on the Leafs’ 2010 off-season additions, organizational philosophy and evaluation with Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin

  • A review of the 2010 draft with the perspective of Leafs head scout Dave Morrison

  • Statistical analysis of the importance of first round picks: can the Leafs go their own way?

  • Analysis of the Leafs’ cap situation with looks at the constitution of past Cup winners

  • A Nazem Kadri feature (including thoughts from Morrison and director of player development Jim Hughes) & list of the Leafs’ Top Prospects in Fall 2010 & Darkhorses

  • An interview with potential sixth round steal Jerry D’Amigo

  • An in-depth look at the Marlies’ season that was and will be with thoughts from head coach Dallas Eakins, Poulin, Jay Rosehill and Tim Brent
  • Projections for the Leafs offense and defense
  • An in-depth, goalie-by-goalie scouting evaluation of Leaf netminders (Gustavsson, Giguere, Scrivens, Reimer, Rynnas) with The Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman
  • Takes on how new media is changing coverage of the team with thoughts from MLSE social media strategist Jonathan Sinden

Ensure yourself a copy of the Maple Leafs Annual here. Take the jump for a full list of authors – the best of the best from across the Barilkosphere and beyond.

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Colby Armstrong’s shiny new 3-year, $9,000,000 contract with the Maple Leafs has been the focus of much debate over the past month. Leaving the contract argument aside, it would be prudent to take a look at Armstrong’s advanced statistics in 2009-10, so that we might better gauge our expectations for the coming season. Thanks to BehindtheNet.ca for these fantastic statistics.

Quality of Competition (QoC) and Quality of Teammates (QoT) were very important stats when analyzing the potential impact that Kris Versteeg could have for the Maple Leafs. In Versteeg’s case, the QoT stat helped us understand his modest offensive numbers and how they might be improved in Toronto. However, they can tell a different story, namely that of defensive responsibility. Armstrong’s QoT was an astoundingly low -0.119. These stats are calculated with advanced +/- statistics being compared between their linemates throughout the season. As before, it is important to note the linemates Armstrong had to work with (courtesy of DobberHockey.com):

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Kris Versteeg has undoubtedly been the prize pick up for the Maple Leafs thus far this offseason. You’ve heard all the basics by now. He’s great in the dressing room, he plays all three forward positions, he produces under pressure and he’s a back-to-back 20 goal scorer. At age 24, these are all impressive qualities, but now the real question is: how he will fare in the Maple Leafs’ system?