The Oilers winning two in a row has them gaining ground fast on a Leafs team that's barely gained a point in three months.
Once thought an impossible feat (getting within shouting distance of the Oilers and Coyotes), Edmonton is now just three points back with seven games remaining. Catching 2nd-last Arizona, who trail by 6 points, is pretty unlikely unless the Leafs lose out and Arizona finishes "strong" (.500ish).
But hey, never count this Leafs team out!
The Marlies play this afternoon at 3 p.m. in a game with serious playoff implications, as their opponent in Hamilton currently holds the 8th-seed and is...
There's at least one playoff chase alive and well in Toronto: Byron Froese, who the Marlies just signed to an AHL contract extension for next season, scored twice to lead the Marlies to a 3-2 win over OKC yesterday afternoon (Froese now sits fourth on the team in goal scoring with 14, despite playing just 34 games). With 12 games to go, the Marlies are now just one point back of the eighth seed and play the eighth place Hamilton Bulldogs this Saturday.
Also worth noting - now riding a four game win streak, Christopher Gibson's save percentage has risen to an...
Next to zero chance the Leafs catch Arizona, Edmonton or Buffalo at this stage, but they fell back into fourth last with Carolina's point against Columbus last night, which was conveniently 3-point game among the two teams closest to the Leafs in the standings.
Anthony Petrielli: Leafs Notebook - March 10 (MLHS)
Phaneuf is a lightning rod and that makes it tough to cut through the nonsense and see his real value. On a team like Detroit, they have a defense with Kronwall, Danny DeKeyser, Jonathon Ericsson, Kyle Quincey and now Marek Zidlicky (along with some decent young players); he...
It seems to be theme of the 2014-15 Maple Leafs season -- just when you think we're at rock bottom, it finds a way to get worse.
Jonas Siegel: Interim Leafs coach wading through rough term (TSN.ca)
“There was no effort,” he said painfully afterward. “You never want your team to come into a game without the highest possible effort and approach to the game. There are no real excuses for it so I’m not going to make any. That’s unacceptable for me. I’m not happy about it.”
Chris Johnston: Maple Leafs’ loss met with apathy, acceptance (Sportsnet.ca)
What might have been most notable...
We've pinched ourselves and waited 'till morning. David Clarkson is still a Columbus Blue Jacket.
Strapped with way too many long term deals for a bottom five hockey club, the Leafs needed to open up cap flexibility. Nobody expected they would be able to offload the League's biggest boat anchor. Not in a million years, not without giving up assets and retaining salary.
Thankfully Columbus came knocking, in a terrible spot with Nathan Horton's large and uninsured contract.
Nonis kept a straight face, pulled the trigger, and the Leafs are in a much, much better position today than they were yesterday.
Long Term Injured Reserve contracts count during the offseason, but teams...
With the Daniel Winnik trade goes the Leafs' most consistent player of the past couple of months, as the Leafs get necessarily worse in the short term while fetching good value for their final major pending-UFA (Jokinen, Holzer and Booth could be moved, but if there's any value to be had is unknown).
Roman Polak, with one year left on his contract, seems to be the most likely remaining candidate to be moved for value, while Tyler Bozak's name has been gaining steam as well, with Bob McKenzie reporting a possible New York Rangers connection yesterday. The Rangers don't ostensibly have the cap room,...
Steve Spott hopped on Leafs Lunch yesterday to discuss coaching amid the Leafs' death spiral.
Spott mentioned there's been added emphasis on the amount of time spent on individual development with some of the younger assets on the team, mentioning Holland, Panik and Kadri.
On coaching objectives in a lost cause:
What we’re trying to do here, we’ve talked about it at length, is lots of individual stuff. This morning I did a session with Peter Holland, Chris Dennis is meeting with Richard Panik. You have your team message, then you have a lot of individual stuff. It’s hard when you have 22 guys in...
An OT win over the Jets, combined with a Carolina loss to New Jersey, means the tank takes a step back, but a Daniel Winnik Gordie Howe hat trick, in front of a potential suitor to boot, and more good stuff from Morgan Rielly in the lead up to the OT winner are nothing but good things.
In other news, it's nice to see that, after going ahead with the yearly shutdown of outdoor rinks in Toronto, MLSE sponsored keeping them open at the cost of $4,500 per rink, per week, to be split with waste management firm Green for...
In a league where contenders are looking for defence, there’s interest in Toronto’s Roman Polak. The Los Angeles Kings, who have discussed Dion Phaneuf, are in on this too, but they are not alone. It probably comes down to a.) price and b.) how a potential trade partner feels about term.
Polak has one more year left on his contract at $2.75 million. Even in a tight cap world, there are teams who prefer multiple years if giving up an asset.
If the offers are less than a 2nd round pick, keeping Roman Polak around for another season -- a good veteran...
Amid the sense of the relief that seemed to sweep over Leafs fans concerning the report that Brendan Shanahan is set to tear things down and commit to the draft, came this downer moment after the game last night:
Blame a faulty attempt at a fast tracked rebuild, or the flawed thinking behind the timing of the original Kessel trade, or blame Dave Nonis for subsequently dropping the ball on the hand off, but either way it doesn't change the fact that Phil Kessel is an elite talent who was let down by poor management and things outside his own control. If he does go sometime in...
Four roster players of name value plus three prospects and a first round pick changed hands in a rare modern day multi-player NHL blockbuster.
Buffalo may well end up with the two best players in the deal if Bogosian and Kane can stay healthy and progress, with the convenience of Kane not being able to hurt their draft position at all for the rest of the season. For Winnipeg, Tyler Myers has flashed a lot of upside in his mixed career to date, plus there's futures heading Winnipeg's way, and for the stretch run they add a veteran scorer in Drew Stafford...
Strange goings on with the goaltending situation as of late, with Jonathan Bernier missing last Saturday's game, giving Reimer both games in the back to back, and then Bernier himself being the first to announce James Reimer as the starter for the third consecutive game tonight versus the Rangers.
That alone is not much to go on, but there was also this surfacing yesterday on Twitter:
Still far from definitive, especially in the climate of rumour season, but some inconsistency and Bernier struggling with injuries later on in the season has been a two-year pattern since he got to Toronto, and with him...
Mike Johnston: Leafs could trade Bozak before trade deadline (Sportsnet)
Damien Cox reported, via Elliotte Friedman, during the Headlines portion ofHockey Night in Canada that the Maple Leafs are nowhere near close to coming to terms with pending unrestricted free agents Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik and that all three could be dealt. In addition to Franson, Santorelli and Winnik, centre Tyler Bozak’s name is out there and could potentially be moved by the deadline, according to Cox.
Jonas Sigel: Rielly shines as Leafs' slide ends (TSN.ca)
Rielly has been one of the rare bright spots from another epic Maple...
Rumour du jour:
Bob McKenzie's full segment with lots of Leafy bits can be found here.
Elliotte Friedman: 30 Thoughts: What's Happening with Evander Kane and lots more (Sportsnet.ca)
While the McDavid/Eichel watch has everyone fixated on the bottom of the standings, there is another effect. Pittsburgh was unafraid to deal its first-rounder, because the Penguins know they will be in the playoffs. (The Blues, Islanders and Rangers already traded them last year.) But, teams who are uncertain of a post-season position are loathe to give up such a pick, knowing if they don’t make it, they’ve given up a lottery spot. And...
10 straight losses ties a franchise record, but last night's game worked out nicely for a number of rooting interests, current realities considered. The Leafs played the top team in the League tightly, scored some goals finally, their potential deadline trade chips all played well and produced (Santorelli, Winnik, Franson), and they ultimately lost their tenth straight to keep the tank alive (lottery odds can be tracked via the MLHS sidebar).
Onto the links.
Anthony Petrielli: Goal scoring problems under Horachek, Reimer, Bernier, Notes, 5 things I’d do & more (MLHS)
The other interesting thing is how the Leafs are playing, and how it...
Jonas Siegel: The referendum on the Leafs' core is over -- and they know it (TSN.ca)
That was the first collapse. Nearly three years later, amid three more meltdowns of varying order, change isn’t likely to be so minimal for the heart of the Leafs' roster. And they know it.
JP Nikota: Mr. Shanahan, tear down this team (Pension Plan Puppets)
In short, the development has stalled because no elite players have been acquired via trade or free agency, and now the Leafs' core is getting old. We had a brief window where we were slightly hopeful for the future,...
Damien Cox: Rebuilding Maple Leafs need to get value in a Dion Phaneuf trade - The Star
Chapin Landvogt: SHL Prospects Notebook - Hockey's Future
Sam Carchidi: Flyers not looking past lowly Maple Leafs - Philly.com
CP: Nylander, Gibson lead Marlies over Comets 3-2 - CP24
Mark Zwolinski: Felix Potvin's lesson for Jonathan Bernier - The Star
David Pagnotta: Leafs, Kings engaged in serious discussions - The Fourth Period
Mark Easson: Rumors: Flames, Kings, Canes, Leafs, Ducks, Coyotes and Canucks - My NHL Trade Rumors
Mark Easson: Rumors II: Avalanche, Maple Leafs and Flyers - My NHL Trade Rumors
Mark Easson: Rumors I: Vermette, Winnik, O’Reilly, Legwand and the Canucks - My NHL Trade Rumors
Chris Nichols: McKenzie on possibility of...
A Leaf team that’s proven to have a weak psyche the past few seasons, now mired in one of the worst slumps in recent franchise history, had about the worst thing that could’ve happened happen with the Jonathan Bernier brainfart to start the third, followed by another weak goal against shortly after.
One of the worst teams in the League at chasing the lead not surprisingly faded into the night.
For the best in the long run, but it’s sure tough to watch in the meantime. The offense has been feast or famine the past two seasons, but the Leafs can't even get...
Tuesday Practice Lines:
Elliotte Friedman: 30 Thoughts -- Leafs & Mike Richards (Sportsnet.ca)
Calgary and Toronto were reported to be the two teams most involved in a Richards trade. I do believe the Dion Phaneuf-Richards idea was seriously considered, although other pieces were going to be involved. I don’t know which team asked, or how the overall package was going to look, but word is the Kings ultimately said no to any deal because they were unwilling to include either Tanner Pearson or Tyler Toffoli.
Jonas Siegel: Franson unsure of Leaf future as trade talks swirl (TSN.ca)
Already looking tight with next...
D Dion Phaneuf is expected to be out "week-to-week" with an upper body injury (hand, from last week's fights).
D Stephane Robidas left the ice before practice started.
F Leo Komarov is expected to return Wednesday against the Devils, while F Joffrey Lupul and F Peter Holland remain day-to-day.
D Petter Granberg and F Josh Leivo were recalled from the Toronto Marlies
Can you say yikes...
Anthony Petrielli: Will NHL Teams Start Using NBA Cap Relief Ideas? (MLHS)
This is the way the league is going, and it is prevalent to a Leafs team that will possibly/probably want to move guys like David Clarkson, Dion Phaneuf,...