Analysis

Analysis

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

1102

When it comes to the Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the first things often mentioned is money. The team is, after all, the most valuable franchise in the league. With that in mind, it is always expected that they use that kind of financial power to the best of their abilities to put themselves ahead of other teams in the league. And due to that, Brian Burke's stance on cap circumventing contracts (the fact that he won't do them) is pissing a lot of fans off. Let's look at it. From the start, Brian Burke's comments have always been that he won't sign...

2304

It seems that a large percentage of Leafs Nation is completely convinced that the team they saw in February and March of the 2011-12 season is the true reflection of the roster's ability. Many have completely disregarded the 99-point pace the team played at for the entire 2011 calendar year and beyond, right up until February 6th of 2012. This skepticism is not undeserved. The team completely collapsed after that victory over the Oilers in early February that saw the Leafs three regulation wins ahead of the eventual Cup-winning Los Angeles Kings. What followed that victory was...

970

It seems like a fruitless endeavor to make full season predictions with the uncertainty of when the actual season does begin. Regardless, here we are. Under ideal circumstances, the season would start as per the current schedule and should both parties salvage a full season, we need to be ready. Every summer we get the McKeen's Hockey Yearbook together and about this time, I'm usually done with Leafs predictions. It's a summer tradition to post Leafs predictions here, and I wanted to continue the custom. With so little Leafs news, we need something to do besides gaming at www.partycasino.com (just in case.. remember,...

2012

The Toronto Maple Leafs have – even by their standards – had a very quiet offseason.  Since late May, GM Brian Burke has focused almost entirely on improving the forward corps for the 2012-2013 season with the signings of both Leo Komarov and Jay McClement; and trading for potential sell-low steal of the year, James van Riemsdyk.  The acquisitions have mostly been lauded as beneficial to the club, in particular for infusing some snarl, defense and skill into the beleaguered club’s front ranks. But it takes only the most cursory of sifting through tea leaves to discover that these moves,...

609

As we approach the dog days of hockey, more and more Leafs fans are coming to the conclusion that there's a strong chance we will see a James Reimer and Ben Scrivens goalie tandem to start the year. Barring a trade for Roberto Luongo (or a surprise move for another goalie), that's the duo the Leafs will start the season with. So with that, I decided to take a look at other AHL goalies over the years and how their numbers translated to the NHL. In a nutshell, Ben Scrivens led the AHL in goals against average this year while also...

1583

The Leafs have added some strength down the middle by signing Jay McClement to a two-year deal worth $3 million total. They were also able to agree to terms with Matt Frattin on a two-year deal that totals $1.7 million, while resigning Ryan Hamilton and Jussi Rynnas as well as adding Mike Kostka to the organization, too. It wasn't a banner day for the Leafs, but it was still an important one. Most notably, they finally added the third line center they've needed for quite some time and that has serious ramifications on the rest of the roster. Burke talked about it in...

676

NHL Free Agency was, originally, to be a major component of the Brian Burke 'rebuild' model - or 'retool,' whatever you want to call it - when the Maple Leafs' new GM arrived in Toronto. And despite perpetual inflation, it remains the surest and easiest avenue for a team to obtain top-quality players in their prime without sacrificing any organizational assets beyond cash. Factoring in the promises of a quick turnaround and transactions we shall not name, lest we incite debate involving high-end draft picks exchanged for promising young stars, free agency to the Brian Burke model becomes...well, not...

James Van Riemsdyk is finally a Toronto Maple Leaf.

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While I had begun to sour somewhat on Schenn's potential last season, it was a little odd to wake up this morning and remember #2 was now a member of an organization not named the Toronto Maple Leafs. Schenn was celebrated as the first pillar of the Leafs' rebuild when Cliff Fletcher drafted him in 2008. Many a fan bought his jersey. Some said we had future captain material in Luke. Few would've predicted Schenn would be with a new organization before he turned 23. I'm not going to call Schenn's rookie season a mirage, but it was somewhat of a...

3091

The worst kept secret in all of hockey finally became a reality. Luke Schenn is now a Philadelphia Flyer, and James Van Riemsdyk is finally a Toronto Maple Leaf. JVR (whose name I'll probably never type in full again) was the second overall pick in the 2007 draft and has had a slow, but upwards, trend in his development since. After getting drafted he returned to New Hampshire, where he played college hockey, and threw up 40 points in 36 games along with 10 points in six world junior games. He ended that season playing some AHL games, but jumped straight...

2314

"We shoot for a top four group that has a high skill level, bottom two guys who look to do the plumbers work. Which are really important jobs on my teams." - Brian Burke At the risk of over analyzing a few sentences said nearly four years ago, this is a good starting point to quote when it comes to looking at the Leafs defense. It's really a very basic structure that doesn't require much of a break down. The interesting thing is that, when Brian Burke was with Anaheim, he actually had three elite defencemen at the time, a middling fourth...

86

Even if you whole-heartedly buy into the "take the best player available" theory when it comes to draft strategy, I think the odds are low the Leafs will be drafting a defenceman with their fifth overall draft selection in the 2012 Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. Say you truly believe organizational needs do not shape a draft team's particular assessment of "the best player available." I still can't see Everett's Ryan Murray getting past the Oilers or Islanders. I also don't think the Leafs would pass on the offensive talent available in the top five and draft Matthew Dumba or...

Randy Carlyle

346

Can we all agree right from the top that the hiring of Randy Carlyle signals the Leafs are back to following the top six, bottom six formula Brian Burke originally told us he would put into place? Can we also all agree that it's nice our General Manager and Head Coach are now on the same page, philosophically speaking? Okay, good. So what exactly is a top six, bottom six mold? A few years ago Pension Plan Puppets ran this piece, which explains how each line in this system is utilized. Essentially you have a top line, a shutdown line, a scoring...

Glenn Healy sees this in his dreams

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2011-12 Season in Review: Top 6 Forwards | Bottom 6 Forwards | Defence | Goalies A new year, same as the old one. Goaltending has been a constant battle for the Leafs since the lockout. Last season, James Reimer gave some hope to a goaltending deprived fanbase only to have it be dashed away the very next year. The Leafs' goaltending in 2011-12 was atrocious and there's no getting around that. So in evaluating goalies, threads must be found that can indicate potential future improved play. Let's see if any of those threads can be found. Those are some Philadelphia numbers....

311

Last week's review focused on the Leafs' top 6 forwards, while the week before that saw us take a peek at the bottom 6's production. Now we'll switch our attention to the defence, which always seems so promising before the season starts and it crumbles to pieces. Again, we're only counting players that skated in at least 20 games for the Leafs, leaving us with seven players: Cody Franson, Jake Gardiner, Dion Phaneuf, John-Michael Liles, Carl Gunnarsson, Luke Schenn and Mike Komisarek. All things considered, the Leafs received a considerable amount of offence from their back end this season. With...

233

We're ecstatic to welcome Jon Steitzer to the MLHS blogging team. He formerly blogged at Bloguin's Leafs site Puckin' Eh and now runs his own blog Yakov Mironov. He's also a funny twitterer who can be followed here. With the introductions out of way, settle in for Jon's in-depth look at the long-term sustainability of Burke's team building. I wrote the bulk of the post you are about to read shortly before the deadline. It is a call for building a roster that is sustainable in the long term in exchange for some short term pain. It was originally...

529

Last week we reviewed the bottom 6 forwards for the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2011-12. There were some good observations, but let's be honest: it isn't an area where the Leafs need to address nearly as many problems as other segments of the roster. That's mostly why I chose to review them first; it's easy to see why many of them are no good and why some are worth keeping. The top 6, defence and goaltending, on the other hand, are much harder problems to solve.  All we can do is look at the stats and hope management sees...

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Another year, another disappointing season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. A fantastic start was soured completely by a late season collapse from top to bottom, culminating in another post-season disqualification. So here we arrive again at my end of the year review. This week we'll be focusing on the bottom 6 forwards on the Leafs, of which there were eight: Matt Frattin, Philippe Dupuis, Tim Connolly, Joey Crabb, Dave Steckel, Mike Brown, Colby Armstrong and Matthew Lombardi. I ended up deciding on who to include based on the number of games played, with 20 being the minimum. This took...

510

Some more charts coming your way. I'll let these charts paint the picture .. after all, if a picture is worth 1000 words, then consider this a 3000+ word blog post. Whew ... I'm exhausted! You know what it takes to put together 3000+ words? Find out after the jump. Much-maligned goaltending has produced a somewhat predictable graphic on the Leafs 2011-12 season. The first chart is the Leafs goals-for average on a daily basis .. the thin black line represents a 5 day moving average and I've duplicated that throughout all the charts. The 5-day moving average takes the previous five entries and...

196

Zone starts, zone finishes and a bunch of QoC. Get ready for a lot of charts. New metrics surfacing rapidly are being put to use. The charts below are being more-widely used to visually demonstrate usage of players in comparison to the level of competition they face. Plenty of different examples exist. OZQoC charts were architected by Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus. A full explanation is spelled out here. Straight from the site explaining the charts history: One of the more popular new developments this year is the OZQoC Chart (Pronounced "Oz Coke"), which is a handy visual representation of how players are being used....

170

When Grabovski got his new 5 year, $5.5 million per year contract, it was met with mixed reviews. You'd be hard pressed to find a Leaf fan who dislikes Grabovski. He's the hardest worker on the team and puts up a fair number of points. However, it isn't difficult to be lulled into a sense of disbelief when one learns that Grabovski now makes more than beloved team star Phil Kessel. So how does Grabovski's contract compare to other players around the NHL and, more importantly, what are his stats in comparison to these players Finding cap hit comparables is...