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Analysis

Analysis

In-depth analysis of the Toronto Maple Leafs from the Leading Leafs-centric website.

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Most fans had Randy Carlyle fired before the 2013-14 season ended.  He wasn't. Instead, Toronto's front office opted to extend the former Norris trophy winner.  Quotables citing Carlyle's experience and Stanley Cup-winning pedigree have been bandied about as support.  Even his detractors are unlikely to admit his retention immediately spells the end of this year's playoff hopes.  But a failure to significantly overhaul his defensive system of the past two seasons is likely to do exactly that. By now, you're all familiar with the infamous "swarm" tactic that the Leafs have employed (unsuccessfully) since the beginning of the 2012 season.  Many recognize it as...

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Yesterday the Leafs partook in their annual golf tournament and pre-camp media rounds, where Joffrey Lupul touched on a topic that has popped up throughout the summer—the Maple Leafs have gotten older. I’m really excited with a lot of the guys we picked up. Robidas, Polak, Winnik . . . just a little bit of a veteran presence throughout the lineup is going to do a lot for us on and off the ice. The last couple of years we’ve been one of the youngest teams in the NHL and now we’ve added some more veterans, guys who have played in...

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The Maple Leafs offseason has had a central theme of analytics and 'Moneypuck' due to their off-ice hirings and firings, but they have also followed this mantra with their on-ice additions. One of, if not the, main original concepts of 'Moneyball' is finding undervalued players due to perceived flaws and maximizing your spend on quality contributors. This clip from the movie sums it up nicely: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGf6LNWY9AI As discussed earlier in the summer, the Leafs brought in a collection of players with strong underlying numbers on relatively harmless contracts. Shanahan’s “island of misfit toys,” in this case, refers to the signings of David Booth, Mike...

Dion Phaneuf

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In the 2005-06 season, the Maple Leafs had the second best power play in the league and one of the biggest reasons was Tomas Kaberle’s ability to gain the zone and set up the attack. Any Leaf fan can tell you it was mesmerizing to watch 'Kabby' slice up the neutral zone and work the attack like a QB as he glided to open space and found uncovered teammates with ease. The Red Wings had the best power play in the league in the 2008-09 season, and one of the big reasons behind it was their zone entry breakout, which the rest...

Jay McClement

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One of the more head-scratching themes of the Toronto Maple Leafs' 2013-14 season was their penalty kill dropping from second best in the league the season prior to third from the bottom. It was a big fall from grace for a team that returned its top four penalty killers (Jay McClement, Carl Gunnarsson, Dion Phaneuf, and Nikolai Kulemin), had excellent goaltending, and the same coaching staff. The team experienced a huge nose dive in almost every statistical category. It is astonishing to look at: Other than the obvious curiosity to find out why the Leafs PK sunk like a stone, there are...

Steve Spott

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MLHS' Alec Brownscombe chatted with newly-appointed Maple Leafs assistant coach Steve Spott this afternoon. There was lots to cover ahead of the new season. Alec Brownscombe: As a guy who grew up in a soccer family and whose father emigrated from Germany, you must be pretty pleased with last month’s World Cup result? Steve Spott: It was awesome. I come from a traditional German background. For our family, it was pretty special watching it. Obviously, with TFC in our city, it’s great to see the sport growing here close to home. AB: I’m a season ticket holder at TFC, actually. It’s a...

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When Brendan Shanahan was introduced as the new President of the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was met with skepticism and the focus centered on Tim Leiweke’s consistent reiteration of the word “culture.” Conversely, Shanahan's focus was not on buzzwords of culture change, or calls to arms, but a methodical approach to assessing and addressing the needs of a team that has very good parts but ultimately is a poorly built team. "I’m not here today for big speeches, big words, big proclamations; None of that matters. Wins do," Shanahan said at the time. He is right, wins are what matter. But on...

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The final installment of Anthony Petrielli's interview with Toronto Maple Leafs Director of Amateur Scouting Dave Morrison touches a little more on the ins and outs of the scouting process, catches up on the progress of a few members of the 2013 draft class (including Frederik Gauthier), and looks ahead to the 2015 Draft. Here's Part One and here's Part Two. Anthony Petrielli: I’ve noticed a theme in your draft history where you give a late pick or two to Thommie Bergman to use. Has there been any thought in bringing him overseas to pick apart the OHL or the...

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July 22nd 2014, a date that will live in infamy.  The Toronto Maple Leafs hired Kyle Dubas, formerly the General Manager for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, former scout, agent, and fancy stats pioneer as assistant general manager. While he rankles at the comparison to famed Moneyball GM Billy Beane, Dubas does have the statistical bona fides to change the way game is being played in Toronto. Here are five key points from the hire: The Leafs will use their analytics budget this year Dave Nonis nearly broke twitter last season when he indicated that the Maple Leafs have had money allocated for...

Peter Horachek

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Rosters are not set in stone yet, but the dust is starting to clear on the summer moves and we are starting to get a picture of what next season’s NHL landscape will look like. For the Toronto Maple Leafs specifically, we still need to find out the fates of James Reimer and Cody Franson -- beyond that, here are some thoughts on what has transpired thus far: 1 - One quietly interesting note and a bit of a strange trend this summer has been depth NHLers getting long-term deals. A few questionable players who got three year deals include:...

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James Reimer and the Toronto Maple Leafs will go to arbitration to determine what the embattled Leafs goalie is worth. Hint: he's getting a raise. In my last article, I discussed the upcoming Club-elected salary arbitration of Ryan O’Reilly and the Colorado Avalanche. The flipside of Club-elected salary arbitration is Player-elected salary arbitration, which procedurally is the mirror image of Club-elected arbitration with the Player driving the process and being given the opportunity to present his case first rather than the Club. Yesterday, CBC’s Elliotte Friedman broke the story on Twitter that James Reimer was among the first players to file...

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There’s nothing like draft weekend to prime the hockey world for free agency. It was an up and down weekend for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but hopefully it is a draft class we can look back on with a smile one day. It certainly started with a bang for Leafs fans. Here are some notes and thoughts on the weekend that was: William Nylander When a team drafts outside of the top few selections, they’re mining through a pool of players with at least one perceived flaw or deficiency, otherwise these players would have been at the top of the order. For the Leafs,...

2014 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Five

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Congratulations to the L.A. Kings on winning the Stanley Cup. What a great season 2013-2014 was, one of the best playoffs I’ve ever seen, and all that other fun stuff people say at this time of year. Wayne Gretzky high-sticked Dougie and if it was properly called the Toronto Maple Leafs would have won that series. While Toronto didn’t make the playoffs this season, it doesn’t mean there aren’t any lessons they can glean from watching the games. Here are 10 things that were rolling through my mind while watching the “second season:” The Stanley Cup champs won the Cup with...

Morgan Rielly

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A warm welcome to new writer, Luka Ryder-Bunting, who looks at improvements to be made with the Toronto Maple Leafs' Power Play The Toronto Maple Leafs’ power play interested me this year. The power play was by no means a downfall of the Leafs this season, ranking 6th in the league with a 19.8% success rate. That being said, every franchise should be looking to improve themselves in any way possible, and there is definite improvement to be made on the Leafs man advantage. Much of the coaching staffs’ decision-making seemed odd to me this season regarding player usage. Carlyle seemed reluctant...

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One of the things we try to do in our analysis at MLHS is discuss possibilities for upcoming decisions facing the Maple Leafs in their pursuit of improving the organization. There is no perfect formula for building a winning team, so all avenues have to be explored from a multitude of angles. A few weeks ago, I discussed the possibility of the Leafs moving up in the 2014 NHL draft and why it might make sense to do so. Trading for the top pick is extremely rare; although the first overall selection appears to be more in play than usual...

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One of the “logical” things that is supposed to play out in Leafland this summer is the team trading James Reimer and officially running with Jonathan Bernier as their starter. All things considered, how logical is it really? How many teams want Reimer? Here is a list of every team’s goalies going into next season: I have emboldened/marked with asterisk the potential fits for Reimer based on him wanting to be a starter; otherwise, most teams seem to be at least comfortable with their starter or tandem going into next season. You could also potentially include Carolina should they manage to get rid of...

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Former Bruins GM Harry Sinden had a great quote on being a GM in the book Behind the Moves: “I think the bottom line is pretty simple: who can play and who can’t play. That’s the bottom line. That is the fundamental job of the GM. Most GMs, if they didn’t have to make that call, could do it, because administratively, it’s . There is a little more involvement because you have to play how you’re going to filed the team, make such things as a salary cap work, but that’s just mechanics. You read the CBA once and...

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Brendan Shanahan continues to make a lot of sense, at least in the words he speaks to the media. His one action so far, however -- sticking with head coach Randy Carlyle -- has been widely panned. It’s become clear how Shanahan views the situation, though, at least, and it sounds almost reasonable. He has respect for Carlyle, thinks he had an ‘off’ season worthy of some self-reflection, and believes he once was and can again be a good coach. Most of all, he seems to think Carlyle is open to and capable of adapting, something Carlyle must have successfully conveyed to him...

Sam Bennettvideo

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Why it makes more sense than usual for the Leafs to move up for the #1 pick In 2012, Dave Poulin gave an under the radar interview on Marlies TV wherein he talked about top centers and how they are acquired. For those too lazy to watch the whole thing, Poulin discusses an analysis of the top 24 centers in the league and how each of them wound up with their current teams. With that in mind, I took a moment to look at the top center of every team in the league this past season and marked down how they were...

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Maple Leafs fans were promised a culture change, however you may define it, when Brendan Shanahan was hired last month. A few weeks later, GM Dave Nonis remains and, with Thursday’s announcement, so does his head coach. It has been clear for weeks that Nonis wanted Carlyle to stay and he was selling Shanahan on it. I'm now left to wonder:  Maybe Nonis is a better salesman than we thought considering all the evidence suggesting Carlyle should have been fired. At this point, Shanahan may be a figurehead more than anything. Unless he completely overrules Nonis to make a move or...