Analysis

Analysis

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

For reasons beyond my comprehension, the two-year contract extension handed out to 25-year-old Korbinian Holzer yesterday generated reactions beyond "oh, alright" on Twitter. Unless you're predisposed to criticizing minor decisions with little downside, what is there to hate? Worst case: The Leafs have signed a relatively young, homegrown depth defenceman for a deal below the 900k salary required for a one-way contract to count against the salary cap if the player is in the minors. Yes, he takes up a SPC slot, but you need cheap depth options in your organization. The best case is that Holzer, he of 18 games, develops...

Since we are almost at the halfway point, I thought now would be a good time to write some notes on each individual player thus far. Here is the close-but-not-quite-halfway Leafs Notebook: Goaltenders James Reimer - He’s played very well and has certainly quieted some doubters, but if you look at his career he has always played well when healthy. The problem for Reimer has been staying healthy, and he got hurt again this season. More than anything, he’s going to have to prove he can stay healthy. On the positive side, he has not appeared to be as susceptible...

Mike Brown has been traded to Edmonton for a conditional 2014 fourth round pick (could become a 3rd depending on if he shaves or retains his moustache) as the Leafs are anticipating a few injured bodies will soon return to active duty. Matt Frattin may make his return to the lineup tonight vs. the New Jersey Devils - he's labeled a game time decision - or a little later on this week. Alas, carrying McLaren, Orr and Brown on the 23-man active roster doesn't make a whole lot of sense given the Leafs are right at the limit and Nonis'...

No games for three days makes for very little in Maple Leafs land development. There’s Komisarek’s laughable trade request, there’s Frattin’s potential return to the lineup this week, and there’s still the question of why isn’t Gardiner on the Maple Leafs, but for the most part all of it is nothing more than a waiting game. Instead, I’m going to look at the most basic of stats (goals and assists) and how the first line forwards are doing in those categories. The Numbers 38% - That’s the percentage of game winning goals scored by the first line this season. Kessel...

After 20 games this season, the Leafs record is 12-8-0 for 24 points. After 20 games last season, the Leafs were 11-7-2 for 24 points. This year’s team has scored 57 goals to this point and allowed 46. That’s a +11 differential. Last season’s team scored 60 goals and allowed 66. That’s a -6 differential. Five of the Leafs losses to that point in their last season were by three goals or more (6-2 BOS, 7-0 BOS, 5-1 FLA, 5-2 OTT, 4-1 NSH- in fairness Nashville scored an empty netter here). They also almost blew a four goal third period lead against Ottawa...

The looming question mark below the surface of a good first 20 games (12-8-0) in the 2013 Leafs season is the fact that the Buds have been pretty consistently outshot (30.8 SA/G, 22nd in the league, versus 28.3 SF/G). Now, teams that play good enough team defence, control the main areas of the ice consistently enough and get solid enough goaltending can manage to make the playoffs despite losing the shots battle. Ottawa made the playoffs last season despite allowing the second most shots in the league per game; Phoenix was third last in the regular season, made the playoffs...

The always tedious Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove brought us a worthwhile nugget to examine this weekend, and that’s our first look at the proposed four new conferences that the NHL will be rolling out next season. Earlier in the week, both Darren Dreger and the more reliable Bob MacKenzie hinted that we are only a week or two away from this realignment being finalized, so we can assume this is pretty close to being set in stone: Conference #1 Conference #2 Conference #3 Conference #4 Carolina Boston Chicago Anaheim Columbus Buffalo Colorado Calgary New Jersey Detroit Dallas Edmonton NY Islanders Florida Minnesota Los Angeles NY Rangers Montreal Nashville Phoenix Philadelphia Ottawa St. Louis San Jose Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Winnipeg Vancouver Washington Toronto   Of course, we thought we might be close to a...

Carlyle Welcomed back to Winnipeg

If I reported back from the future after the Leafs' first 17 games and told you before the season started: Joffrey Lupul has been out injured since game three, Jake Gardiner has only played two games and is in the minors, Phil Kessel went on a 10-game goalless drought to start the season, Dion Phaneuf recorded only one assist and no goals in his first 11 games, James Reimer has been out injured for several games and we haven't acquired Roberto Luongo or any form of goaltending help, our only player acquisition since the lockout ended is Frazer McLaren, Colton...

One of the more interesting, borderline meaningless stats associated with the Maple Leafs at the moment is their league-leading hit count despite the subtraction of Luke Schenn’s ~270 “hits” (not that Schenn wasn’t physical, but pity the ACC stat recorder who decided his patented three-step push counted as one). Through 16 games in 2013, the Leafs lead the league, ahead of the Flyers and Rangers, with 454 hits. Now, Leo Komarov alone is responsible for 63 of these, taking up Schenn’s mantle as the undisputed team leader, and it’s not like the Leafs finished in the basement in total hits...

The Leafs may have shown the hockey world what they are capable of when they get rolling on Saturday, but one game does not make a season or an identity. It was only a few weeks ago the Leafs pulled off a fantastic 5-2 win against Pittsburgh on the Pens home opener and things were looking great. James van Riemsdyk said at the time, “We’re a little bit of an unknown, not really picked by anybody. But you’ve got to go out there and prove it every game.” The next night they lost to the Islanders at home 7-4. Two...

On Hockey Day in Canada in February of 2012, the Leafs organization added special lustre to their matchup against the Montreal Canadiens with the decision to honour Mats Sundin with a pregame banner raising ceremony at the ACC. The Leafs were 28-21-6 at the time, in the playoff hunt, and had even more reason than usual to put on a good showing. They proceeded to get stomped by a score of 5-0, slipping silently into the night and initiating a disastrous slump that would eventually extend the team's playoff drought and end their head coach's tenure behind the bench. That...

Ten games into a regular season is usually when the good teams and players start to shake off the summer rust and really get rolling. In a 48 game season, there aren’t any games to spare. Over a fifth into the season now, the Leafs, just like every other team, have had some positives and negatives worth discussing. At the end of the day, 10 games is still only 10 games and nothing is conclusive, but here is the good, the bad and the ugly of the beginning of Toronto’s season: The Good Nazem Kadri and Matt Frattin Whether or not you think...

Before getting into the meat and potatoes of the blog, I (keon) want to give a shout out to Cameron. He made a post of few days ago about the Leafs effectiveness in drafting since the 2004-05 Lockout and it was that post that inspired me to look into this topic in greater detail. The thought of which team or teams are the best at evaluating junior age talent, and vise-versa, has always intrigued me, so when Cameron broached the subject I thought maybe it was a good time to finally look into it. While there are obviously a lot...

This is the first of five reports I'll be writing after each 10-game (and one eight-game) segment of the Leafs schedule, where I break down the team's numbers in the key areas of even strength and special teams; all good factors to consider when you wager on NHL. Note: obviously, be weary of the small sample size in this first report.  At the ten game mark, the Leafs have gone goal for goal at even strength. This isn't awesome, but five teams did the same or worse and still made the playoffs last season - Chicago, Los Angeles, New Jersey,...

The Leafs have had a lot of positives to start this season, but the power play isn’t one of them. Last year, Toronto’s power play was a team strength finishing tied for ninth with Colorado in the league clicking at 18.4% over 82 games. After eight games to start this season, the Leafs are currently converting 14.3% of their man advantages, which is 22nd in the league. The Leafs top scorer on the power play last year, Phil Kessel, is still on the team. So is their leading scorer from the point in Dion Phaneuf. In fact, of the top 10...

Randy Carlyle has not been with the Leafs for long, but he’s beginning to put his stamp on this team. Hired on March 2nd 2012, the former Ducks bench boss inherited a team on the decline and wound up finishing with a 6-9-3 record to close out the season in his first 18 games as the Leafs head coach. Questions and attention were given to things such as whether or not Carlyle, a former Norris Trophy-winning defenseman, could turn around Luke Schenn’s game, how he was using Connolly-Steckel-Crabb as a shutdown line, whether he and Joffrey Lupul could get...

Despite the Roberto Luongo to Toronto trade rumours, the Leafs have begun the season with a pair of young netminders manning their crease. The duo of James Reimer and Ben Scrivens came into this year with a combined 83 starts between them. In a hockey-crazed town that hasn’t seen playoff action since 2004, all of these factors haven't stopped management from holding firm in their beliefs in their talents while not giving up good assets for an established goalie. You would think an experienced management team, such as the one overseeing the Leafs, would like to solidify their goaltending as...

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

You’d think we were still waiting for the season to start with number of contract posts that have gone up in the past 24 hours. I think the Lupul trade has been analyzed very well by a number of Leafs bloggers (here’s Alec’s take from yesterday), but the fact that this has been discussed so much will not prevent me from weighing in on why I partially like this signing, but ultimately still conclude that it was a bad idea. I think this deal if managed properly could actually benefit the Leafs, and I’ll toss in my $.02 on...

Phil Kessel

The naming of Joffrey Lupul as an alternate captain and the announcement of his charity initiative Lupes Troops (granted this doesn't always guarantee a spot in Toronto for the indefinite future) in recent days were both indicators that Nonis and Carlyle see Lupul as a face of the franchise going forward. Faces of the franchise usually need long term contracts, but few would've expected one for Lupul this soon in the season. When you boil it down, the Leafs just paid Lupul to be the player he was last season for five more seasons after this shortened one. There is...

We are approximately 26 hours away from puck drop on the opening of the Leafs' 2013 season. I asked the crew of MLHS bloggers to predict the Leafs' finish and provide a few reasons to back up their prognostication. We'll start and finish with a couple 8th place PLAYOFFS!!!11 predictions, but strap yourself in for some depressing stuff in the middle. Side note: I checked the archives and Anthony's writeup is the shortest work he's ever produced by 3,000 words. Enjoy the read and toss in your own prediction (preferably with reasons) in the comments. Ian Dudgeon (the man behind...