Analysis

Analysis

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

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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...

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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...

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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

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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...

365

With tomorrow's game vs. Buffalo representing the 40th game of 2013-14, the Leafs are nearly at the halfway mark of the season. The Leafs, 18-16-5, currently hold the final playoff spot in the East, are 3-5-2 in their last ten, and will try to fend off the Flyers and Hurricanes who are both three points behind them with games in hand. Now seems as good a time as any to look at the early returns of the Leafs most recent moves. Without further ado: Acquired players David Clarkson - The Leafs are finding out his best role is that of a shutdown...

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Although the Leafs went 1-2 last week, it really was one of their better weeks of hockey this season. They handily outplayed LA but just weren’t able to bury, and they laid a beating on the first place Hawks. It's true that St. Louis completely outclassed them, but two pretty dominant games against two of the top five teams in the league is really impressive. The Leafs have to build on that as a positive. Notes - As doom-and-gloom as it’s been in Leafs Nation the last few weeks, the reality is this: The East sucks. The Leafs have played 16...

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The Sunday game threw off the timing of the Leafs Notebook (along with life, work, and so on), so I apologize for the delay. Hope it was worth the wait at least. Notes - It’s nice to see the Leafs have a true first line and to watch them in action. When JVR-Kadri-Kessel are together as a unit, they are capable of dominating and they are also capable of sustained zone time. The only problem I see with this line is that they can get a little too cute at times, which is probably a result of three creative players being...

video

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There isn’t much I can add to the powerplay analysis that wasn’t in the write up by JP Nikota describing the Leafs use of the 1-3-1. They adopted this system in 2012-13 while more teams have incorporated the formation throughout the NHL. This may be the same reason Randy Carlyle has kept the penalty killing system intact for the last two seasons. More relevant in 2013-14 is the severe drop off in the success of killing penalties, a part of the ’12-13 Leafs that excelled while sitting at the top of the standings and helping propel the Buds into their first...

605

Unlike a singular rigid structure in the defensive zone, neutral and offensive zone systems fluctuate upon game factors including score, time remaining, and game situation (5v5 or 4v4). They also vary line to line and shift to shift. Varying conditions make it difficult to really pin down one specific system being applied as a core philosophy, while personnel and opposition systems further muddy the set of variables that need to be addressed. The philosophy holds the entire system together, with other variables contributing to the on-ice decisions. A primary proponent to score effects, a passive forecheck is desired when defending...

Gary Bettman

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How will it happen & what does it mean for the Toronto Maple Leafs? A. Background In a memo released in September of this year, the Chief Operating Officer of the NHL notified all league employees of initiatives and staff changes to take effect during the 2013-2014 season. In the memo the league identified a plan to increase annual gross national revenue by $1 billion dollars by the end of three years, or in other words, in time for the 2016-2017 season. To put that type of increase in perspective, it had previously taken the league from 2005-06 to 2011-12 –...

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The question for the Leafs right now is pretty simple: Is this the kind of slump that every team goes through over an 82-game season, or is this a sign of things to come? Toronto is 8-9-3 since a 6-1 start and are about to embark on what will likely be their toughest stretch of games this season competition wise. In the next eight games Toronto plays, in order: San Jose, Dallas, Ottawa, Boston, LA, St. Louis, Chicago and Pittsburgh. It doesn’t get much harder than that. Last season the Leafs went on a pretty bad 2-3-4 stretch before going on an...

Toronto Maple Leafs Defensive Systemsvideo

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INTRODUCTION I've always had an keen interest in systems, the X's and O's technical side, with a desire to document team systems across the entire NHL. Systems are mostly a coach's implementation, and once there is a coaching change there is the system change, even if it is only tweaks. I've found that doing a little systems analysis helps in the overall scouting process as well, a concept I won't go into detail on here, but I've written about its benefits on my own blog. In an effort to document the Leafs systems, I'm going to dedicate a three-post series breaking down...

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Good morning MLHS, First off, let me start by thanking Alec, Michael and Michael for inviting me to participate in Maple Leaf Hangout Episode #17 - if you guys and gals had nearly as much fun watching as I did filming, then you and I are off to a good start! Secondly, I wanted to take a moment to introduce myself to anyone that didn't catch the Hangout and wonders what the heck I'm doing here. I've been following Alec's writing since he started out at that 'other site' and I quickly moved over to the greener pastures of MLHS when...

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- Losing to a young, inexperienced goalie that fought every puck, like in the loss against Nashville, is the kind of loss that really hurts over an 82-game season. Especially because, after the first period, the Leafs were firmly in control of that game but didn’t bury chances or give themselves much of a lead. The Preds got a four minute power play early in the second, they scored, and the game completely shifted. - Add in losing to a reeling Columbus team that didn’t have Gaborik, Dubinsky or Horton (who they haven’t had all year, obviously). Good teams take...

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You have to give Dave Nonis credit: The Leafs needed a center, so he went out and got one. It was only a few weeks ago that I wondered aloud, in this very space, whether or not Nonis would pull the trigger to fill a position of sudden need, knowing he sat on his hands when he was faced with this same depleted center situation in Vancouver. Every GM in the NHL had to know the Leafs were in a tough spot already with Tyler Bozak and Dave Bolland down, only for Nazem Kadri to get suspended and leave the Leafs...

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Peter Holland made his debut for the Leafs last night, playing 12 even strength minutes next to JvR and Kessel. Obviously it was nothing to read too far into, but Holland was strong in the circle (he was only 38% over 4 games in Anaheim, but went 7 for 11 last night), had one good chance in the slot, and showed a smooth skating ability for a big guy. Said Randy Carlyle: "I thought he did OK, it's hard when a young guy comes in. It's not like we hid him in the lineup.. That's what we believe; if...

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Tyler Bozak and Nazem Kadri could return as early as the 21st, but the Leafs needed to add some center depth regardless with Dave Bolland on the shelf indefinitely and nothing available on the Marlies yet past Trevor Smith. The ideal scenario was Dave Nonis, in the place of acquiring a Vernon Fiddler type, grabbing a young center with some upside, especially since the organization had given up on Joe Colborne after preseason. In Peter Holland, a former 15th overall pick in 2009, that's exactly what he's acquired. It's hard not to be pleased considering the Leafs badly needed...

726

Nazem Kadri will attend a hearing with league discipline czar Brendan Shanahan this afternoon. The hearing is reportedly about the collision with goaltender Niklas Backstrom. It's not clear as of yet if this indicates the League has reviewed Kadri's hit on Mikael Granlund and found no supplemental discipline is needed. When the League looks back at the tape, I think, or hope, they will find that the Granlund hit looked and sounded worse in real time than it was when scrutinizing the slow motion replay. The match penalty that saw the Leafs serve a five-minute penalty, and Kadri being ejected...

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The Leafs dropped their sixth game of the season against the Bruins on Saturday night, but the optimistic take is that maybe a lineup weak down the middle can still raise their game to compete with the better teams. A solid second period is something the coaching staff and players will no doubt look to as something to build on tomorrow against Minnesota. The Wild are 10-4-4 and, as it stands, have the most points of any opponent Leafs will face until the end of November. Here's the break down of the next 10 games: That's really weak. The total record...

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No appetizer today. Straight into the main course: - Last season, one of the biggest strengths of the Leafs penalty kill was its health and established rotation. Everyone knew who their penalty killers were and when they would be on; Bozak and McClement would go on for the immediate d-zone draw, Kulemin would hop on after the Leafs cleared it for Bozak, Komarov/Bozak would come on when McClement finally got tired, and JVR would see spot duty or help kill the penalty if one of the regulars was in the box. To tie it altogether, McClement, Kulemin, Bozak, and Komarov...