Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Analysis

Analysis

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

3685

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

1479

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...

5583

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...

1106

A mess, but an opportunity for improvement When a team bottoms out the way the Maple Leafs did, naturally there is going to be a lot of anger directed towards the team and its players. Next, factor in the manner in which the team failed to make the playoffs -- giving up the most shots ever over an 82-game season and plummeting during to an eight-game losing streak in March, prior to which they were ninth place in the entire league. Then, have it all take place in the tempestuous Toronto hockey market. It goes without saying there is going to be a lot of noise...

2889

We looked at options with the Maple Leafs under contract last week. Today, let's take a look at the UFAs and RFAs. UFAs Dave Bolland Quick Thoughts: Had a hot start with the Leafs before getting hurt and coming back playing on what looked to be one and a half legs. Really tough to get a read on him based on what he did in Toronto because he simply didn’t play long enough in good health to do so. Based on his past history, he’s a solid 3C and probably the Leafs best defensive center considering what else they have (Bozak, Kadri, McClement…)....

Joffrey Lupul

2120

When Brendan Shanahan came aboard, I made a quick passing comment about understanding selling low and selling high with the Toronto Maple Leafs players and cashing in on inflated value when the opportunity presents itself. The Leafs have made a habit of overpaying their own players after career years—for big money—then trading them for absolutely nothing once their play comes back down. That is a trend that obviously needs to stop. So, in saying that, who are the Leafs “sell low” and “sell high” candidates, and what should they be planning to do with these players heading into what...

1527

When the media asked who has final say on roster decisions at today's introductory press conference for Brendan Shanahan, there was a pause followed by some laughter shared on the podium between Tim Leiweke, Shanahan, and Dave Nonis. "I have a boss. It's Brendan. Your boss has the final say -- that's just common sense," Nonis finally said. And, with that, a changing of the guard has officially begun in Leafs Nation. Nonis is still the GM in title, but it is clear that this is the Shanahan show now. It remains to be seen if Nonis’ staff will stay in place,...

217

Who would’ve thought we would be saying those words in reference to the Maple Leafs just a week ago? There was a palpable air of awkwardness present as Tim Leiweke called this ‘Shanny’s team and culture” while Dave Nonis sat listening at the other end of the table. Shanahan is his Leafs’ Masai Ujiri, and Leiweke made no bones about referencing that directly. Dave Nonis is saying all the right things as of now -- about knowing this role was in the offing for some time, looking at it as an opportunity to collaborate with another good hockey mind, Shanny...

1135

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

951

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

1171

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

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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...

45

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...

150

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

1648

“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...

1326

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...

421

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...

440

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...

866

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

999

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...