Tuesday, March 31, 2015
Analysis

Analysis

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

462

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...

453

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...

936

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...

485

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...

573

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,...

1088

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...

929

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....

729

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...

1866

The sentiment "Thank you Boston" has been never been more prevalent in Leafs Nation as Phil Kessel continues to rip apart the NHL. I'm thanking Boston, too, only for something else. You can't convince me otherwise: Boston's dominance of the Leafs and elite standing in League the past few seasons has made the Leafs better. The Bruins forced the Leafs to improve, they forced them to change their game, and ultimately they remain the benchmark for the Leafs to measure themselves against. When Chicago was in the process of building a contender, Detroit was the yardstick. They forced them to turn...

373

The Maple Leafs have cleared some cap space with a number of players set to return from IR shortly (Smith, Clarkson, Bolland). Oilers acquire Mark Fraser from Leafs for Cam Abner and Hartikainen. — Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) January 31, 2014   always impressed with Hartikainen .. projects to a good lower roster player if he can be brought back to N America. — Gus Katsaros (@KatsHockey) January 31, 2014   Overall a very good little move by Leafs, especially if Hartikainen ever returns to North America. Fraser would have cost cap space in AHL. — James Mirtle (@mirtle) January 31, 2014   Most importantly, the Leafs have added wiggle...

195

This is amazing: With another multipoint game last night versus the Florida Panthers, marking his 18th and 19th points in his past 11 games, Phil Kessel now sits fourth in points over the past three seasons. He's only four points back of first-placed Evgeni Malkin, meaning Kessel becoming the scoringest player in the National Hockey League in the past three seasons (start of 2011-12 to current) is an actual possibility, should he finish the season strong (-er than the other guys). Un-frickin’-real, and it speaks to the evolution of this complete, elite offensive threat, as he’s also in the top-15...

493

Why is the Leafs' PK struggling so heavily? Plus much more on the week that was in Leafland. It's kind of amazing how the Leafs' awful penalty kill has flown right under the radar this season. Yeah, everyone knows it's bad, but when it was bad under Ron Wilson there was a constant reminder of how bad it was. It was a cloud of negativity hanging over Wilson's teams. This season, though, it just doesn't seem like it's being made out to be nearly as big of a deal. But how bad is it? The current 76.8% success rate is a lower success...

766

According to @themayor, the Maple Leafs have acquired Manchester Monarchs right-winger Brandon Kozun from the Los Angeles Kings. The 23-year-old Los Angeles native was drafted in the sixth round of the 2009 draft. #LAKings have traded Brandon Kozun to Toronto Maple Leafs. #TML — The Mayor John Hoven (@mayorNHL) January 22, 2014 The 5'8, 180-pound Kozun has been a regular AHL points contributor but has yet to play an NHL game. He has amassed 179 points in 264 AHL games. Some offensive firepower for the Marlies here, from the looks of things, as Kozun is from all reports a skilled little winger...

559

Everything is coming up aces for the Toronto Maple Leafs in January.  The club has won six straight games to not just climb back into the playoff race but establish a secure foothold.  And if the riches weren’t embarrassing enough, the Leafs also have junior hockey’s hottest scorer, Connor Brown. Brown, the 156th selection in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft currently leads the Ontario Hockey League in scoring with 31 goals, 61 assists for 92 points in 45 games this season.  He holds a 10-point lead over his closest competitor (teammate Dane Fox) and is on pace to challenge the...

601

It’s amazing how much a week can change, in the minds of some fans. Some may say Carlyle is no longer on the hot seat, everything is fine now, the team is heading in the right direction, and everything is turning around at the right time. “They aren’t even fully healthy yet.” Another perspective sees it as just a hot streak. The team has won a few shootouts, they’ve got some bounces and some good goaltending, and it’s really not a big deal. “It’s unsustainable; the averages will catch up to them eventually.” Me? I’ll stick to the same script I’ve been...

Jim Hughes

858

MLHS' Alec Brownscombe recently caught up with Director of Player Development Jim Hughes to check in on the progress of the younger Maple Leafs. Hughes and Claude Loiselle had recently traveled to the World Juniors together to take in Frederik Gauthier and Andreas Johnson's performances for Team Canada and Team Sweden respectively, as well as one viewing of Fabrice Herzog for Team Switzerland. On Connor Brown's eye-popping production: JH: In Connor’s case, the goals and assists are in a lot of ways just the result of his whole makeup. He loves the game, he works extremely hard day in day out, he’s...

1287

Even the most optimistic Leafs fans weren't expecting David Clarkson to be great throughout the entirety of his seven year deal, but this is just getting crazy now. By again going pointless last night, the big free agent signing has now stretched his pointless streak to seven games. If you look even further back, he has only three points in his last 21. Depth players Trevor Smith, Paul Ranger and rookie Morgan Rielly all have more points than him (Ranger’s played one more game than Clarkson and Rielly’s played four more; Smith has played ten less). He doesn’t play on the...

1735

Heading into 2013 training camp, Dave Nonis had two massive clouds hanging over his head as his best forward and best defenseman were both scheduled to become UFAs after the season. That’s no longer a problem as both have been signed to long-term contracts locking them in until 2021 and 2022 respectively. The question is: Now what? The Leafs are a playoff bubble team in a terrible Conference, and they now have six players locked into big deals (Kessel, Phaneuf, Lupul, Bozak, Clarkson and JVR). They still seem to have some cap flexibility with roughly $21M in cap space this summer...

277

As reported by TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Dion Phaneuf have come to terms on a 7-year contract extension valued at $49-million ($7-million AAV).  This keeps the 28 year old Phaneuf in the fold until the end of the 2020-21 season.  Bob McKenzie is reporting that there is some form of NMC/NTC, which is a typical addendum to UFA-year contracts.  The deal is the second-most expensive contract ever signed by the Maple Leafs (Kessel’s 8-year, $64-million dollar deal signed earlier this season is #1). The Only Man for the Job The money should come as no surprise.  Back...

Dion Phaneuf / Phil Kessel

390

Darren Dreger is reporting that a contract extension for Dion Phaneuf is near completion, as in it could be signed and sealed before the New Year. The long rumoured figures have The Captain's new deal in the neighbourhood of 7x7. Phaneuf would join David Clarkson, Joffrey Lupul, Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak as 'core' members of the team locked up through to the end of the 2018 season (or beyond).  Here's an important point of consideration when analyzing the upcoming extension for Phaneuf - Relative Compensation under a rising cap.   C. The Rising Cap and Leafs Contracts Leaving aside...