Analysis

Analysis

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

Head coach Peter DeBoer’s three-year contract with the New Jersey Devils is set to expire at season’s end. (Warning: What follows is a long-winded analysis of a potential head coaching candidate for the Maple Leafs, who haven't yet fired their own coach, when said future candidate is still currently under contract with another team). While Lou Lamiorello recently endorsed the work of DeBoer and his staff despite a second-consecutive season out of the playoffs, there appears to be an opportunity here if the Maple Leafs are interested -- which, it just so happens, jives with the latest dispatch from the rumour...

Toronto Maple Leafs vs St. Louis Blues

With the rest of the Leafs season boiling down to a formality, the offseason speculation is about to ramp up to (my guess) unprecedented heights after yet another collapse by this core. Fingers will begin being pointed at the coach, management, players, fans, media, and whoever else anyone can think of. There will be blame to be shared among some of those, but one thing that cannot be overlooked, if the Leafs are going to ultimately be successful down the road, is the flawed construction of this roster at forward. The Leafs went into the season hoping to have two “first lines”...

Randy Carlyle

There is an old saying that a good coach might only help you win an extra handful games over the course of a season, but a bad coach will cause you to lose far more than you should. Here is the question facing management right now: Did they think this was a playoff team all along, or did they always believe it was going to be an uphill battle to actually make the dance? If they think the 2013-2014 Maple Leafs were supposed to be a playoff team, they have to start asking some serious questions about what is happening here. This...

Dion Phaneuf / Phil Kessel

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. “Personally, I think by a country mile he’s the best defenceman in the league. It’s not even close right now,” Ron Wilson said following a 4-3 win over the Penguins. “I think he’s comfortable in his own skin. He’s comfortable being the Captain, he’s healthy and I think without taking away from his play, the way Carl Gunnarsson’s played has made Dion’s job a lot easier. It’s just freed up Dion to play as best as I’ve ever seen him.”- Ron Wilson, Oct. 30st, 2011 It wasn't too long ago that Dion Phaneuf was a...

This quote triggered the thought process behind this post. This is kind of a good analogy. You could go into a zone and take three shots from five feet off the goal line and five feet from the boards that hit the goalie. There is no shot taken within the dots – the proverbial home plate – not one shot was taken from there. It wasn’t a real fluid possession. The team that shot the puck three times in 30 seconds, lost possession of the puck on the third shot, and now we are attacking their end – we were...

Don Cherry said something nonsensical with no basis in fact, guys. Let's talk about this. 1) Leafs love those College guys. Signed Eric Knodel from University of New Hampshire. Going to get a tryout with the Marlies. That means — Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) March 26, 2014   2) he takes a spot from some guy slugging it out on the buses. If you want to make the Leafs or get a tryout just go to a US College. — Don Cherry (@CoachsCornerCBC) March 26, 2014   We’ve heard Don Cherry rail about this type of thing before. It is one of my favourite misinformed Cherry rants...

Jonathan Bernier

“We didn’t seem to be able to break the cycle, and they were using the points. We play with a lot of people down low in our zone so the points are going to be open. And yet they seemed to be getting the point shots through and a lot of tips and rebounds. Obviously something.. something was wrong there.” - Joffrey Lupul after the 5-3 loss to St. Louis. After the loss last night, Randy Carlyle and Joffrey Lupul both came to the conclusion that this Leafs team is tense -- on account of all the recent losing -- and...

When Tim Leiweke officially took over as President of MLSE on April 2013, the Maple Leafs finally made the playoffs after a long drought, the Raptors were awful and didn’t have a first round pick, and Toronto was pretty well done with TFC. Boy, how things change in barely a year. Since then, Leiweke has stepped in and brought one of the supposed brightest young minds in basketball in Masai Ujiri. All Ujiri has done is pull off a string of moves (Andrea Bargnani trade, Rudy Gay trade, Hansborough signing, etc.) that has the Raptors sitting third in an admittedly bad...

Just when things were looking comfortable for the Leafs, they had to go and make it interesting again. Really, is there any other way this team operates? After pulling off a rare feat by taking four of six points on a West Coast swing through Anaheim, San Jose and LA, the Leafs lost to two teams chasing them in the playoff race in their Conference. By no means could the Leafs have mathematically separated themselves from the Capitals and Wings for good, but they could have distanced themselves to the point of only looking ahead from here on out. Instead, everyone is back...

Alec and I took in the Rotman Sports Industry Conference yesterday, which is of note because the Leafs VP of scouting, Reid Mitchell, was a conference speaker. Now, personally I can’t handle when these sorts of events happen, the quotes get transcribed word-for-word, and the guy is ripped apart for saying something wrong. I’m not going to do that here. However, there were two noteworthy things mentioned that stuck out in my mind: The first was Reid Mitchell noting that the majority of the stats the Leafs use are not publicly available or made known. At first he said 100% of...

For the first time since 2006, the Maple Leafs stood pat on trade deadline day. It was the right move. On a day where pretty well every team around the Leafs got better, there wasn't a whole lot out there that made sense for this team to do, in part because of cap constraints. The Leafs already don't have a second round pick for the upcoming draft, so moving multiple picks -- which is what netted Goc, Hemsky and MacDonald -- would have gutted their draft pick stocks. Going into the draft with, say, only a 1st and 4th just so that...

David Clarkson

It's not time to sound the alarm, but the sense of urgency is heightened across Toronto. The Leafs are still firmly in a playoff spot and, other than Detroit (who has three games in hand on the Leafs, but are also missing Zetterberg and, for the moment, Datsyuk), the 4+ point gap the Leafs have on everyone else is a much tougher hill to climb than it looks because of the “three point era” in the NHL. It's extremely tough to make up ground at this stage of the season in this day and age. But let's be clear: The Leafs...

Thanks again for all the questions. My apologies if I didn't get to yours. Part 1 can be found here. - wendelsfist: "What one personnel upgrade or change would you make (trade for a role, call up to replace etc)?" I assume you mean for the playoff race/run and not next season. At least, that's how I'm going to answer the question. I don't think there are any defensemen worth the Leafs going after at this point, so that kind of upgrade can wait until the offseason. I'd be most interested in acquiring a really good 10th forward. If someone in the Leafs top 9...

Thanks for all the questions. Part 2 will follow a little later on in the day. - @BrianHuddle: "Where does management need to advance this roster to push it from middling playoff team to contender?" The positions of defense and center still need improvement, but in terms of advancing the roster I think there are two ways to approach this question. The first is having patience with this roster and developing the pieces in-house. They can improve in theory by staying the course with the Gardiners, Riellys and Hollands of the organization if they really have their hearts set on growing this young talent...

Gold is Canada's and the players are on flights back home.  The NHL season starts up again on Tuesday with just nine days remaining until the March 5 NHL Trade Deadline.  As the Toronto Maple Leafs push towards its second consecutive playoff berth, could Mason Raymond’s 16 goals and 19 assists in 60 games this season make him one of the hottest buys on deadline day? Signed to a cheap $1-Million, one-year deal during training camp, Raymond is on an expiring deal and could be the Leafs best trade chip come deadline day.  With so many teams tight under the...

There has been plenty of debate already regarding Dave Bolland and whether or not he should be re-signed, a subject that will only continue to gain steam once Bolland returns after the Olympic Break and plays out the stretch on an expiring contract (as it stands). The first part to the question revolves around something nobody can possibly know the answer to at the moment: is he healthy and will he be able to return to be the same player he was to start the year? Obviously, all bets are off if he can't. Now, if he is able to recover...

Before the NHL broke for the Olympics, the Toronto Maple Leafs appeared to be playing some of their best hockey of the year at the right time of the season. We'll have to see what happens if and when the top line cools off from the blazing pace it was enjoying when it left off, but the goal production has turned around in a big way in the past 13 games. Leaf sticks have been even hotter in the last 13 games than they were in the opening 14 games back in October. While every 82-game season features ebbs and flows,...

With the hockey world’s attention firmly fixed on the Olympics, it’s easy to forget that the NHL is quickly approaching a significant date: Trade Deadline Day on March 5th. The Leafs play three more games before the deadline (at NYI and MTL, before a home game against CBJ), and they have some looming questions facing them. Perhaps the most important of which is this: Has Dave Bolland recovered? It’s not necessarily a matter of whether he plays well or poorly – he hasn’t played since November 2nd, so he’s going to be rusty — it’s about how he feels. Does it...

Having gone through a long and painful rebuild, the Toronto Maple Leafs now find themselves right smack in the middle of a critical time in their development as an organization.  With legitimate core pieces finally in place, it's up to management now to make the proper decisions to take this team from a middling group capable of making the playoffs annually to a powerhouse perennial contender. With that in mind, is locking up Dave Bolland the right move for this organization? Long Term Contracts and Contention Consider this: The Leafs have five forwards already signed to big money deals until at least 2017-2018....

What a much more enjoyable month of hockey that was from the Maple Leafs, the latter half in particular. Toronto has seven regulation wins in their last 10 games, and are 9-1-1 in their last 11, after just seven regulation wins total between October 29 and January 14. The Leafs seem to be playing closer to the potential their talent level would suggest after a couple of bleak months culminating in a brief stint spent on the outside looking in at a playoff spot. Saturday's win was the first game of the season in which the Leafs out shot an...