MLHS Notebook

MLHS Notebook

Since 2011, Anthony Petrielli has been providing his weekly long-form breakdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs' games.

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When Kyle Dubas was named GM of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, one of the first things he did was buy every member of the front office a copy of Jonah Keri’s 'The Extra 2%.' For those of you who have not read the book, it archives the Tampa Bay Rays rise to prominence after a near decade of failure. Baseball Prospectus wrote a review summarizing the plot: The book’s title refers to Rays owner Stuart Sternberg’s philosophy that rather than attempt to lap the field—an unrealistic goal, given the team’s financial realities and the challenge posed by sharing a division with baseball’s...

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Since the 2014-2015 season began, I have been tracking my own internal metrics on Leafs games. I thought I’d take the time to explain what it is I’m keeping record of and what I am hoping to accomplish by doing so. If you do not care and just want to read notes, quotes and ‘5 Things I think I’d Do,’ just scroll down and skip this part; otherwise, read on to learn more about what we are doing here at MLHS to take things (hopefully) to the next level. Corey Sznajder’s zone entry and exit work was released over the summer,...

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The Maple Leafs were faced with a unique opportunity to keep their top prospect in Toronto playing in the AHL, yet they elected to send him back to Sweden instead. Since 2005, 14 players drafted in the top 10 have played their draft season across the pond somewhere in Europe or Russia. There is no exact science to developing prospects and every individual person is, of course, unique. That said, odds are that some AHL time will occur, even if only for a handful of games before graduating to the NHL, provided Nylander becomes the player they hope he can be. Nylander...

1619

When the media asked who has final say on roster decisions at today's introductory press conference for Brendan Shanahan, there was a pause followed by some laughter shared on the podium between Tim Leiweke, Shanahan, and Dave Nonis. "I have a boss. It's Brendan. Your boss has the final say -- that's just common sense," Nonis finally said. And, with that, a changing of the guard has officially begun in Leafs Nation. Nonis is still the GM in title, but it is clear that this is the Shanahan show now. It remains to be seen if Nonis’ staff will stay in place,...

Toronto Maple Leafs vs St. Louis Blues

1006

With the rest of the Leafs season boiling down to a formality, the offseason speculation is about to ramp up to (my guess) unprecedented heights after yet another collapse by this core. Fingers will begin being pointed at the coach, management, players, fans, media, and whoever else anyone can think of. There will be blame to be shared among some of those, but one thing that cannot be overlooked, if the Leafs are going to ultimately be successful down the road, is the flawed construction of this roster at forward. The Leafs went into the season hoping to have two “first lines”...

Randy Carlyle

1208

There is an old saying that a good coach might only help you win an extra handful games over the course of a season, but a bad coach will cause you to lose far more than you should. Here is the question facing management right now: Did they think this was a playoff team all along, or did they always believe it was going to be an uphill battle to actually make the dance? If they think the 2013-2014 Maple Leafs were supposed to be a playoff team, they have to start asking some serious questions about what is happening here. This...

1395

When Tim Leiweke officially took over as President of MLSE on April 2013, the Maple Leafs finally made the playoffs after a long drought, the Raptors were awful and didn’t have a first round pick, and Toronto was pretty well done with TFC. Boy, how things change in barely a year. Since then, Leiweke has stepped in and brought one of the supposed brightest young minds in basketball in Masai Ujiri. All Ujiri has done is pull off a string of moves (Andrea Bargnani trade, Rudy Gay trade, Hansborough signing, etc.) that has the Raptors sitting third in an admittedly bad...

440

Just when things were looking comfortable for the Leafs, they had to go and make it interesting again. Really, is there any other way this team operates? After pulling off a rare feat by taking four of six points on a West Coast swing through Anaheim, San Jose and LA, the Leafs lost to two teams chasing them in the playoff race in their Conference. By no means could the Leafs have mathematically separated themselves from the Capitals and Wings for good, but they could have distanced themselves to the point of only looking ahead from here on out. Instead, everyone is back...

466

Alec and I took in the Rotman Sports Industry Conference yesterday, which is of note because the Leafs VP of scouting, Reid Mitchell, was a conference speaker. Now, personally I can’t handle when these sorts of events happen, the quotes get transcribed word-for-word, and the guy is ripped apart for saying something wrong. I’m not going to do that here. However, there were two noteworthy things mentioned that stuck out in my mind: The first was Reid Mitchell noting that the majority of the stats the Leafs use are not publicly available or made known. At first he said 100% of...

David Clarkson

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It's not time to sound the alarm, but the sense of urgency is heightened across Toronto. The Leafs are still firmly in a playoff spot and, other than Detroit (who has three games in hand on the Leafs, but are also missing Zetterberg and, for the moment, Datsyuk), the 4+ point gap the Leafs have on everyone else is a much tougher hill to climb than it looks because of the “three point era” in the NHL. It's extremely tough to make up ground at this stage of the season in this day and age. But let's be clear: The Leafs...

472

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...

466

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...

1110

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...

1953

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...

529

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...

624

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...

1505

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...

1799

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...

419

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...

520

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...