The other thread was getting a little exhausting with those Kessel sexy eyes staring us down all day. Let’s restore normal heart rate levels and get into some Leaf news and notes.
NHL.com’s 30 in 30: Toronto Maple Leafs – NHL.com continues their off-season, 30 in 30 series with a look into some of the biggest questions facing the ’13-’14 Leafs. Some obvious story-lines include the forthcoming goaltending battle between Reimer and Bernier, re-signing Kadri and Franson, and whether Clarkson will live-up to his new contract. Other interesting questions include whether Gardiner is ready to bounce-back with a full-time and significant role (I believe he is) and whether Bolland will deliver more offense. As far as Bolland goes, if he was truly brought in to serve the role that Grabovski didn’t relish, should we really expect production from Bolland, especially if his usage resembles anything like Grabovski’s (mostly defensive zone starts and usually the opposing top lines)? I’m tempering my expectations, but I think we’ll be fortunate if we got some secondary scoring from a Bolland-centered third unit, but I wouldn’t count on it.
National Post: McClement excited about Leafs’ new identity – “I think when teams come into town they know it’s going to be a hard night…That’s Randy’s style of team…Last year we started to build that identity.” Last season, the Leafs’ home record of 13-9-2 was good for 18th place in the league. A winning record is certainly nothing to sneeze at but it’s also some ways away from the “fear of God” we are attempting to instill in visiting opponents. When compared to their divisional rivals, from 2002-2012, the Leafs have the least number of cumulative home games won (194). To their credit, the Leafs did have the 7th best away record, 13-8-3, in the league last season but my bet is that a part of that is attributable to the Leafs catching teams off-guard. Still, hopefully with players who are better-suited for the roles assigned by Carlyle, and continued excellence (and/or luck) in goaltending, the Leafs should be able to improve their home record and push into the upper-half of the league in that category. (Check out their odds this season at Canadian sportsbook reviews).
Backhand Shelf: Nazem Kadri only has to worry about one guy: Nazem Kadri – There is a large, and vocal, contingent of fans who are deeply unsatisfied with how Nonis has handled the cap space he inherited, and created, during his first off-season as GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs. When it comes to re-signing Nazem Kadri, whether it is through a 2-year bridge contract (a la Subban), or a longer term contract (a la Henrique), there is inherent risk in pursuing either contract. Sign the player short-term and you run the ‘risk’ that said player will greatly surpass expectations and demand max salary, along with your first born son, when his bridge contract is up. On the other hand, sign a player who is still proving himself long-term and run the risk that he will regress and become a hard-to-move asset, anchored by a $4-5M contract. Either way, it sounds like Nonis can’t win. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that GMs are eight-bit idiots and nothing bad will ever happen if you pay for future production…if only he had the cap space to work with like a real GM. Salary cap management aside, the fact of the matter is that there is risk no matter how you slice up a contract, and if Nonis were to sign Kadri to a short-term bridge contract that fit under the cap, Lambert’s follow-up would probably look something like this.
Puck Daddy: Wilson vs. Bylsma: Can the US Olympic coach match legacy of his predecessor? – An interesting read on Ron Wilson’s impression on the US men’s national team, and how Dan Bylsma, who has little international experience, is tapping into Wilson’s legacy and experience prior to Sochi 2014. In this article, many of the players from the 2010 US men’s national team, including Partick Kane, Paul Statsny, and Erik Johnson offer rave reviews of Coach Wilson. Kessel, interestingly enough, when asked about the similarities between Wilson and Bylsma, said “I don’t know yet”.
THW: 2010 Gold Medal Game: Where were you when it happened? – Glad to read that van Riemsdyk’s head is in the right place. Hopefully his skates will be on the ice for Team USA next February.
For your enjoyment, a “fit-looking” Milan Lucic at Team Canada orientation camp: