Do these Leafs look better than the old Leafs?

Ryan Fancey
August 01 2013 07:52AM

No, I don't mean actual physical looks. Though, the answer to that question is certainly "yes" because David Clarkson is quite handsome. 

I'm wondering if this team looks better on paper than the one that finished up this past season. 
 
Over the course of this summer I've had an opinion on every move Dave Nonis has made to reshape the Leafs. A lot of the time that opinion has probably been negative, with the exceptions being the Ranger and Gunnarsson contracts. Even the Bernier trade didn't really get on my nerves too much.
 
While all of this was going on, I guess my main concern was that the Leafs were focusing all their efforts to upgrade in the wrong areas. While they were quite weak on the blueline, they instead focused on upgrading their group of forwards and goaltenders, and burned up a lot of cap space in the process.
 
If the defence wasn't looked after, and all of the energy this off-season was put toward creating the strongest group of forwards possible, then that's what we should have, right? Now that I look at the potential lineup laid out in full, I'm not sure this is the case at all. If anything, it looks like the Leafs have actually downgraded at forward and spent a boat load of cash to do it.
 
Without writing more angry words about the Grabovski buyout, if we look at the Leafs down the middle, the top three centers ranked by actual talent went from Kadri-Grabovski-Bozak to Kadri-Bolland-Bozak. And to be fair to Jay McClement and Joe Colborne, they're probably as good as Bozak. You're probably as good as Bozak.
 
Grabovski turned in to Bolland, who doesn't look to be on the same level in terms of skill. Even if you're from another planet and argue that Bolland is as good, there's no upgrade here. The obvious move would have been to add Bolland and keep Grabovski, letting Bozak go. But here we are. No upgrade, no improvement, and 22 million dollars in a replacement-level center's pocket.
 
Of course with the big splash the Leafs made in July, the winger situation, which was already pretty strong, was bolstered even further with the addition of Clarkson. Wrong. By allowing MacArthur to walk down the road to Ottawa, Nonis replaced him with a player that's older and questionably as talented, plus an extra 2 million dollars on the cap. Again, even if you try to make the case that Clarkson is as good as MacArthur, the team didn't upgrade.
 
We've all looked at the cap troubles and argued over the statistics for a while. But even if we ignore that and just look at a snapshot of this roster, there's still a lot to discuss.
 
If there aren't any other big moves coming, it looks we're getting a lineup that looks something like this;
 
Lupul-Bozak-Kessel
JVR-Kadri-Clarkson
Kulemin-Bolland-McClement
Orr-Colborne-McLaren
 
With the Leafs losing Komarov to the KHL and Frattin in trade, this new lineup looks decent at best and it's tough to say who can fill in if they run in to injury troubles. This is all especially frustrating considering we know Carlyle will continue to ice a throwaway fourth line with two enforcers. 
 
With the defence basically unchanged (unless things fall through with Franson, in which case it could get a lot worse), and assuming the goaltending is slightly improved or "solidified", I'm still not sure if this team, as a whole, has made any real steps in improving overall.
 
I like the addition of Paul Ranger to the big club, but he's been away from the league for a while so it's still very much "wait and see" with him. Could he be the upgrade the team needs on the blueline? Maybe. That's asking a lot.
 
A lot of fans and writers have been upset with those who have been critical of Leafs management this summer, and have turned it in to a debate over relying on statistics. But you don't need to be well-versed in hockey statistics to see that Nonis threw a lot of money at upgrading the wrong areas, and looks to have failed to even upgrade them at all. This is all quite easy to see.
 

8cea4e8f4ec20c8718c64e8b5900cd19
Good thing the Leafs don't play in the Corsi Hockey League, since that'd be two leagues they're awful in. Email ryanfancey at gmail dot com or follow @rfan_3.
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#1 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 09:52AM
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This Nonis-bashing has gotten a little over the top. Really.

1. The relationship between Grabo and Carlyle was dysfunctional. Something had to go. We all need to move on. I loved Grabo's play, but it drove the coach crazy and was really, really expensive for the designated role. Bolland is the perfect fit for the 3rd line role at the right price.

2. Clarkson. I was born and raised in Toronto and Leaf fan -- but I have been living in New Jersey for a while (and I think it's pathetic to name a team after a state; teams belong to a city -- but there you have it). I watch the Devils a lot. Don't like them, but I know them. Clarkson is exactly what the Leafs need. When he is on the ice, the action pivots around him and he is relentless. If you want to give him a personality type as a player, the best word to describe him is charismatic. (Personally, I would swap Lupul and JVR on the wing -- and the second line is going to POP!) I liked what MacArthur brought to the team, but he had his ups and downs and got a fair contract from Ottawa. OK, so the Leafs paid a price for that upgrade.

3. The Leafs now have great trade bait in the form of a premier goalie. The team had nothing like this before. It's going to make a big difference either picking up a big D-man if the Leafs make a strong run in the spring, or a high draft pick for the future. Yes, the team had to pay for it.

What do you want? Free upgrades and assets? For better or worse, it's a marketplace. This is what you get when you face a competitive market for individual contracts with a collusive ceiling on group/team payroll.

Don't you want to win? The only way to do that is to get better. The only way to get better is piece by piece; the sport is organized around contracts and you can only add and subtract one contract at a time. So, the action is at the margins. And any shrewd manager has to make his marginal moves opportunistically, when opportunity knocks. He can't just make it up.

Sometimes I think we suffer from some pendular syndrome. If the Leafs don't completely overhaul (starting with the fire Nonis crusade when he's only had 6 months on the job in a lockout season with a team that impressed us all....) then they are hell-bound. Or the Leafs make opportunistic moves where they can find them but don't live up to our exalted expectations.

The only issue is the Bozak deal. And we can jump up and down all we want about it. But Kadri is not ready for first-line center duties, and no scenario brought the Leafs the bona fide replacement without a price that would have had the team on life-support and gutted the ranks that are the key to sustainable success so long as we have bottom-dragging teams in Phoenix and Nashville which require working with hard cap on the CBA.

So, sorry Ryan, I don't think it's so easy to see that Nonis botched the offseason. The onus is now on Carlyle. He's got the pieces he wanted and got rid of those he didn't. Up to him to deliver wins.

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#2 WatsonB
August 02 2013, 10:53AM
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I am so sick and tired of "supposed" Leaf fans and writers bashing the Leafs, can't you think of something positive to write? And thats even that your forgetting the fact that your completely off base on some of your comments, they are not made in context.

Is Bolland better than Grabovski? WEll in what way are you talking about, goal scoring or being a shut down center? No, Bolland is not as offensively talented as Grabo, but thats not why we got him and got rid of Grabo. We got rid of Grabo because he was overpaid and because we had him playing in a shut down role which he didnt fit, but Bolland does completely. So let me ask you this, Is Bolland a better shut down center than Grabo? With out a doubt, and he almost 2 million a year cheaper and has 2 Stanley Cup rings, and thats what we need him for. Tick that up as stupid comparison #1.

Bernier is an infinite upgrade over Scrivens, but thankfully you didn't debate that.

McCarthur VS. Clarkson, you've got to be kidding me on this one. Is McCarthur a good hockey player, yup, no doubt. Has Mac ever scored 30 goals, or will he ever? N0. Does Macarthur play with a chip on his shoulder in a pest fashion that will draw penalties and drive the other team nuts? No. Will Mac ever drop the gloves in defence of his teammate? No, I do understand he has had a couple fights in the past but they are few and far between. If you asked those exact same questions about Clarkson the answer to each of them would be a YES. Those intagibles are added to this player + has all the skill that MacA does. If MacA was better than Clarkson how come he wasnt the top sought after free agent this year like Clarkson was? Oh wait, maybe its because MacA was scrtached a few times this year. Tick that as stupid comparison #2.

And adding Paul Ranger is a wash right now, because we still dont know how he will fair in the NHL, thats TBD.

But all in all your comparisons were weak, and this article is littered MSM negativty all over it. Are the Leafs perferct, no. Was every move made this year perfect? no. Is this line up better than the one we dressed last year, for the expection of the loss of Koramov and maybe Frattin, yes, in every way, where ever changes were made they are upgraded. I am actually shocked this article was aloud to be posted on this web site. Am I 100% satisefied with everything done this off season, no, im not happy with the cap situation we are currently in, but you can voice your opinions without it being so damn negative.

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#3 rw970
August 01 2013, 09:45AM
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Which team would you rather ice?

Dave Nonis' work this summer:

FORWARDS

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($3.500m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m)

Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)

Frazer McLaren ($0.700m) / Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / Colton Orr ($0.925m)

DEFENSEMEN

Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / John-Michael Liles ($3.875m)

Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m) / Cody Franson ($3.500m)

Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m)

GOALTENDERS

Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) James Reimer ($1.800m)

OTHER

Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) Buried: Mark Fraser ($0.350m) RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit) Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) ------ CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter) (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion) SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,441,667; BONUSES: $300,000

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $158,333

-------------------------------------------

Or GM DAN (Does Absolutely Nothing but (1) compliance buyout Komisarek and Liles, (2) sign RFAs (Fraser 1.275; Gunnarsson 3.15; Franson 3.5; Kadri 3.5) and (3) sign Ranger for $1M).

FORWARDS

James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Mikhail Grabovski ($5.500m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($3.500m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)

Clarke MacArthur ($3.250m) / Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / Matt Frattin ($0.488m)

Josh Leivo ($0.925m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Tyler Biggs ($1.107m)

DEFENSEMEN

Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m)

Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($3.500m)

Mark Fraser ($1.275m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m)

Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m)

/

GOALTENDERS

James Reimer ($1.800m) Ben Scrivens ($0.550m)

OTHER

Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit) Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) ------ CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter) (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion) SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $56,748,333; BONUSES: $745,000

CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $8,296,667

And now you actually have $8 million to spend on whatever you want! And plenty of room to extend Kessel, Phaneuf and Gardiner.

Edited for formatting. Sorry.

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#4 rw970
August 01 2013, 11:37AM
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@FultonThrashers

"Realistically, we won't know until the season starts whether the leafs are better or worse. On paper it looks as if we may have downgraded a little bit, but people have to realize that how the team looks on paper means nothing (see 2013 Blue Jays)."

This proves too much. You're basically saying that since our best available methods for predicting team success ("on paper") are imperfect (because of the 2013 Blue Jays), we should just shrug our shoulders and say it's probably ok. Presumably, we should use some other method for predicting team success, like the venerable "trust the people in charge" system, which is totally not flawed (other than in the case of the 2013 Blue Jays and every other team that has ever done poorly or otherwise failed to live up to expectations).

"Bernier: This is his shot to be an NHL starter, Ben Scrivens knew he would be a backup, therefore didn't necessarily have the will to give 100% daily."

Ben Scrivens is a backup goalie with a career .910 SP. Jonathan Bernier is a backup goalie with a career .912 SP. What in that extra .002 SP has convinced you that Scrives has less quantifiable motive to not suck? How many more games do you think Scrives would have won this season if he had the requisite effort you feel he lacked? How large a difference do you think that would make, given that a backup goalie only plays like 20 games a year? How sure are you of any of this? Enough to demote your starter to backup, trade away two capable roster players making league minimum and pay some guy with similar numbers to your last backup $3 million? What reason does Bernier have to think that he can be a starter that Scrivens doesn't have? Because he was a first round pick? Because Dave Nonis signed him to a big contract?

Moreover, what happens to Reimer's motivation now that he's been effectively demoted to backup or at least has to split starts and fight with Bernier? Reimer plays more games than Scrivens does. What effects his motivation has a bigger effect on the team than Scrivens'. Where are your theories now?

"Bolland: Hardworker that will fight for every puck and won't back down, similar in effort to grabovski, although grabo sometimes got lazy"

So, even according to you, Bolland = Grabovski in terms of effort, at least, except for some times you think Grabo's been lazy. Have you watched as much of Bolland as you have of Grabovski, that you feel comfortable making this assessment? I doubt it.

"Clarkson: Him and MacArthur are both players that will give 100% night in and night out."

Sounds like a draw, except Clarkson costs at least $2M more per year for the next 7 years. That's money that could have been used on players we need.

So even by the terms of your argument, Clarkson and Bolland are not an appreciable improvement in effort over MacArthur and Grabovski, if any improvement at all. You have no evidence to think Bernier will contribute more effort than Scrivens either, other than the theoretical justification you've envisioned. How then do you conclude that this team is harder working than last year's?

Once you've established that, try and determine whether a team that "may" be harder working is better than a team that is more skilled and cheaper, as well.

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#5 dougie
August 01 2013, 09:34PM
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rw970 wrote:

Which team would you rather ice?

Dave Nonis' work this summer:

FORWARDS

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($3.500m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m)

Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)

Frazer McLaren ($0.700m) / Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / Colton Orr ($0.925m)

DEFENSEMEN

Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / John-Michael Liles ($3.875m)

Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m) / Cody Franson ($3.500m)

Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m)

GOALTENDERS

Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) James Reimer ($1.800m)

OTHER

Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) Buried: Mark Fraser ($0.350m) RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit) Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) ------ CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter) (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion) SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,441,667; BONUSES: $300,000

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $158,333

-------------------------------------------

Or GM DAN (Does Absolutely Nothing but (1) compliance buyout Komisarek and Liles, (2) sign RFAs (Fraser 1.275; Gunnarsson 3.15; Franson 3.5; Kadri 3.5) and (3) sign Ranger for $1M).

FORWARDS

James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Mikhail Grabovski ($5.500m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($3.500m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)

Clarke MacArthur ($3.250m) / Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / Matt Frattin ($0.488m)

Josh Leivo ($0.925m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Tyler Biggs ($1.107m)

DEFENSEMEN

Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m)

Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($3.500m)

Mark Fraser ($1.275m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m)

Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m)

/

GOALTENDERS

James Reimer ($1.800m) Ben Scrivens ($0.550m)

OTHER

Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit) Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) ------ CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter) (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion) SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $56,748,333; BONUSES: $745,000

CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $8,296,667

And now you actually have $8 million to spend on whatever you want! And plenty of room to extend Kessel, Phaneuf and Gardiner.

Edited for formatting. Sorry.

I don't see how DAN is a better line up.

first line - grabbo and kessel have NEVER meshed and i doubt would stick together. kadri is not ready for first line duty. so when they don't mesh, who plays centre?

lupul kadri and kulemin would be ok. but not as good as lupul kadri clarkson. Personally i would put JVR on with Kadri and Clarkson and that line could be lights out.

mcclement bolland kulemin is eons better than mccarthur colborne frattin. (ESPECIALLY given what the 3rd line is supposed to do - ie check.)

lievo mcclement biggs - seriously? 2 kids who have never played in the NHL? give your head a shake. Orr and maclaren are as big and tough as they come and with colborne could pot some goals. Leivo??? 4th line???? What????

Nonis has given the leafs two legit top 2 lines and a solid bottom 6. DAN is a huge step back. Enjoy the cap space. Yer gonna need it.

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#6 FultonThrashers
August 01 2013, 10:49AM
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Realistically, we won't know until the season starts whether the leafs are better or worse. On paper it looks as if we may have downgraded a little bit, but people have to realize that how the team looks on paper means nothing (see 2013 Blue Jays). If you look away from stats, and base it on hard working players that will bring 100% to every game then we may have improved.

Bernier: This is his shot to be an NHL starter, Ben Scrivens knew he would be a backup, therefore didn't necessarily have the will to give 100% daily

Bolland: Hardworker that will fight for every puck and won't back down, similar in effort to grabovski, although grabo sometimes got lazy

Clarkson: Him and MacArthur are both players that will give 100% night in and night out.

So when u consider that, the leafs may be a harder working team this year then last. You may think this does not matter, but look at last years leafs, were they the most skilled? No. Did they give 100% effort for the most part? Yea. Did they have heart? Yes.

Stranding away from stats and money, Nonis may have done one thing right, add more players that will give 100% effort daily.

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#7 MaxPower417
August 01 2013, 12:33PM
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@Jeremy Ian

You're nitpicking his choice of phrase. The point is, that it's an objectively better lineup with boatloads of cap room.

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#8 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 12:47PM
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MaxPower417 wrote:

You're nitpicking his choice of phrase. The point is, that it's an objectively better lineup with boatloads of cap room.

But it's his bottom line. Literally.

What I am focusing on is the business strategy for trying to put a better team on the ice. If the Leafs continued to sit on tons of cap space and lost out again on surgical free agent insertions (which is what Nonis has done, basically), we'd be howling about his passivity.

But if we want every manager's choice to be "objectively" upgrading without risk or ambiguity, and without paying the price, we'd win the Nobel Prize in economics. (And Nobel Prizes are now being given out precisely to show us how risk is evaluated differently according to whether we face losses or gains -- sorry, a tangent here). And if we could do that, so could any half-wit manager and they would all pursue the same strategy and bid up the asset prices.

Look, I am not 100% confident in Nonis's model. But I get it. And I don't think the situation is as doomsdayish as the bashers claim. It's just not. There are always options, and some of them are actually good ones to have.

I think our attention should focus on Carlyle, frankly. This is the test of his skills.

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#9 Pierce Cunneen
August 01 2013, 07:10PM
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"You're probably as good as Bozak."

I lost it at this comment. Haven't laughed that hard in a while.

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#10 Luc
August 02 2013, 08:31AM
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Ryan, I'm unsure how you consider yourself a writer.

If you had watched grabbo play at all last year you'd know he was a complete dud, and needed to be moved. Augmenting the team with Clarkson, Bolland, and Bernier make the leafs instantly more dangerous overall.

If the leafs hadn't made any moves this offseason you'd probably be complaining about that too, no one needs this constant negativity... Go watch soccer or something

Go Leafs Go.

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#11 Badger M
August 01 2013, 09:55AM
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I don't think the Leafs' defense is unquestionably good or bad at the moment. It's a question mark.

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#12 rw970
August 01 2013, 12:42PM
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@Jeremy Ian

The point is not that you can spend money on whatever you want. The point is that Nonis blew through all that cap space Brian Burke painstakingly and maddeningly built to address not a single actual issue with the Leafs' lineup. He didn't upgrade the center position. He didn't upgrade the defense. He plowed that money into backup goaltending and a scoring winger whose career high was 46 points. For seven years. He brought in a third line center with a low ceiling who had an unproductive year playing alongside Patrick Kane and bought out a 3rd line center with much higher upside who had an unproductive year playing alongside Jay McClement.

There is not a single area in which the leafs are better now than they were after Game 7, except for an arguably marginal improvement to their backup goaltending. All this plus a serious cap crunch that could mean they'll ice a 20 man roster or buy out another contract.

The cap's going up for everyone next year, which means Kessel and Phaneuf and Gardiner will be able to fetch more money on the FA market. That money Nonis wasted will be missed.

GM DAN also didn't address his teams' weaknesses. He, however, at least did not waste all the cap space to not address those issues. If GM DAN actually wanted to do something, like improve the D, though, he could! Because he has $8 million.

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#14 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 12:57PM
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@rw970

I understand the merits of DAN. But that is not what Burke was doing -- he was in the sweepstakes for UFA's and would have spent the money if he could have. His real managerial talent was rebuilding the pipeline and sticking with the core patiently instead of gutting for short-term rewards. In fact, ironically, Phaneuf MAY be expendable in 2014 because the defense is so well restocked.

But that has nothing to do with the accumulation of cap room. It's unused capacity. And even Burke wanted to use it. He said so many times.

I know I am repeating myself, so I apologize.

So, let's turn this issue around: both MaxPower and RW, what do you think Nonis's reasons are for NOT upgrading the team but blowing the money? You really think the shareholders (let's leave the ticket-holders aside, since we never really matter anyway) and CEO would have approved of that strategy before giving the contract extension? It's not like they don't care about the money....

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#15 MaxPower417
August 01 2013, 01:10PM
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@Jeremy Ian

"What I am focusing on is the business strategy for trying to put a better team on the ice. If the Leafs continued to sit on tons of cap space and lost out again on surgical free agent insertions (which is what Nonis has done, basically), we'd be howling about his passivity."

Except, if we're honest with ourselves, the chance of the Leafs winning the cup next year (the only thing that really matters) is extremely low. Therefore the opportunity cost of sitting on the cap space is equally low. This allows Nonis the opportunity to be patient with that capspace and pounce when they time is right.

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#16 jasken
August 01 2013, 03:23PM
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You can argue all day about talent on paper. If the Leafs improved on their defensive play, and goal prevention at the cost of a couple players they have improved the overall all team.

This has yet to be determined management, coaches are hoping the defense has improved at the cost.

Hockey has never been just goal production and points, you have to look at goal prevention and defensive responsibility as well.

Personally my view is they will be more defensively responsible, but their production drops and since the team has focused more on prevention this team has improved.

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#17 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 12:24PM
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rw970 wrote:

Which team would you rather ice?

Dave Nonis' work this summer:

FORWARDS

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Tyler Bozak ($4.200m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)

James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($3.500m) / David Clarkson ($5.250m)

Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Dave Bolland ($3.375m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)

Frazer McLaren ($0.700m) / Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / Colton Orr ($0.925m)

DEFENSEMEN

Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / John-Michael Liles ($3.875m)

Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m) / Cody Franson ($3.500m)

Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m)

GOALTENDERS

Jonathan Bernier ($2.900m) James Reimer ($1.800m)

OTHER

Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) Buried: Mark Fraser ($0.350m) RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit) Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) ------ CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter) (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion) SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $64,441,667; BONUSES: $300,000

CAP SPACE (20-man roster): $158,333

-------------------------------------------

Or GM DAN (Does Absolutely Nothing but (1) compliance buyout Komisarek and Liles, (2) sign RFAs (Fraser 1.275; Gunnarsson 3.15; Franson 3.5; Kadri 3.5) and (3) sign Ranger for $1M).

FORWARDS

James Van Riemsdyk ($4.250m) / Mikhail Grabovski ($5.500m) / Phil Kessel ($5.400m)

Joffrey Lupul ($5.250m) / Nazem Kadri ($3.500m) / Nikolai Kulemin ($2.800m)

Clarke MacArthur ($3.250m) / Joe Colborne ($0.600m) / Matt Frattin ($0.488m)

Josh Leivo ($0.925m) / Jay McClement ($1.500m) / Tyler Biggs ($1.107m)

DEFENSEMEN

Dion Phaneuf ($6.500m) / Carl Gunnarsson ($3.150m)

Jake Gardiner ($1.117m) / Cody Franson ($3.500m)

Mark Fraser ($1.275m) / Paul Ranger ($1.000m)

Korbinian Holzer ($0.788m)

/

GOALTENDERS

James Reimer ($1.800m) Ben Scrivens ($0.550m)

OTHER

Buyout: Darcy Tucker ($1.000m) Buyout: Colby Armstrong ($1.000m) RETAINED SALARY TRANSACTIONS (0.778% of upper limit) Matt Frattin ($0.437m—0.5%) Ben Scrivens ($0.062m—0.1%) ------ CAPGEEK.COM TOTALS (follow @capgeek on Twitter) (these totals are compiled with the bonus cushion) SALARY CAP: $64,300,000; CAP PAYROLL: $56,748,333; BONUSES: $745,000

CAP SPACE (21-man roster): $8,296,667

And now you actually have $8 million to spend on whatever you want! And plenty of room to extend Kessel, Phaneuf and Gardiner.

Edited for formatting. Sorry.

I understand the appeals of DAN. The problem is that you can't "spend on whatever you want!" Only in fantasyland.

Yes, there is a challenge of how to pay for Kessel and Gardiner. Phaneuf may be expended if the feeling is the younger D-men can crack the team. But the cap is going to rise. Has to. Almost all the GM's in the top markets of the league are boxed into the same corner. They have no choice. Now, you may say this is "fantasyland" thinking. But if you look at the payroll structures you used to make your calculations for other teams, you'll see they have analogous problems. You really think the league is interested in letting the Rangers, Leafs, Wings, Flyers (gasp) lose their franchise players? I know it's dysfunctional up there on planet Bettman, but not suicidal.

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#18 MaxPower417
August 01 2013, 01:22PM
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Jeremy Ian wrote:

Totally agree that we are not celebrating in the streets next year about winning the cup.

But does that mean we place a higher premium on the returns for DAN "just in case", or do we consider the rewards to marginal improvements -- which is what Nonis is doing? He's doing the latter, and he's not as mindless as his bashers are making out him out to be. and on that I stay quiet for a while -- or others are going to trash us all!

It's simple for me. I look at the two above rosters. One seems better to the other AND has all kinds of cap space.

What's the counter argument to that? Hell, you could add Clarkson to "DANs" roster if you want, and there is still much more cap space.

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#19 rw970
August 01 2013, 12:59PM
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@Jeremy Ian

"If the Leafs continued to sit on tons of cap space and lost out again on surgical free agent insertions (which is what Nonis has done, basically), we'd be howling about his passivity."

Good thing we gave him that 5 year extension so that Nonis need never have to make a pressured decision ever again.

But seriously, there were no "surgical free agent insertions." The only FA that Nonis signed, who did not spend the previous year in the system is David Clarkson a "scoring" winger, who has yet to top 46 points. And he's 29. Again, the Leafs did not have a dearth of scoring wingers who couldn't top 50 points. And since they had to lose Grabovski and MacArthur to pull that off, that's neither surgical, nor an addition.

Also, cap space is good just to have. You don't need to blow your wad on David Clarkson because he's the best FA winger available, if you don't particularly need any wingers. Just because a player is available and you have cash doesn't mean you have to spend it, say on backup goaltending. It's wiser just to hold on to the space until a player comes along for a position you do need help with. Like defence. It's wisdom and courage like that which justify 5 year extensions.

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#20 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 01:11PM
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@RW970

"Good thing we gave him that 5 year extension so that Nonis need never have to make a pressured decision ever again."

Good line!

Three more thoughts, then I'll let others trash me. Or agree.

1. Agreed, cap space is good to have.

But what are you trying to optimize? Flexibility in case?

2. Nonis was clear going into FA season that his preference was to look at the center position. But he said he'd look to upgrade everywhere he could. A lot of teams are looking at C and there was no alternative in sight. So he upgraded where he could.

3. Bernier. We can think of him as a backup. Or we can thinking of him as trade bait. Reading that revealing Dave Poulin interview suggests that they saw the acquisition of Bernier has bait either for the C or D upgrade, or a future pick. Call this banking on a future upgrade. This is why the "on paper" calculus does not tell us about the winning strategy; it's a static assessment whereas I am trying to draw attention to a dynamic process.

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#21 rw970
August 01 2013, 01:13PM
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@Jeremy Ian

"But that is not what Burke was doing -- he was in the sweepstakes for UFA's and would have spent the money if he could have."

He wasn't really in the sweepstakes. Even when he pretended to be, his self-imposed restrictions (e.g. nothing longer than 5 years) basically ensured he would never sign the top flight talent of any FA class. He was certainly willing to aggressively change the roster, through trades mostly, but the Leafs were never a cap team under his stewardship, and one of the reasons the Leafs were able to get Cody Franson in the first place was because they could take advantage of Nashville's cap crunch. The irony is that they may lose him because of their own cap crunch.

Whether or not that strategy made sense is debatable. It frustrated me a lot at times. But maintaining cap space was a HUGE priority for Burke, and took a lot of effort and guts, esp. in Toronto. Dave Nonis pissed that all away before even signing an extension. All those years of heartbreak and frustration and losing out on Rick Nash and Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards were for naught - because we just spent that money on Bozak and Clarkson, two players who have yet to crack the 50 point barrier playing on first lines.

"So, let's turn this issue around: both MaxPower and RW, what do you think Nonis's reasons are for NOT upgrading the team but blowing the money?"

From Leiweke's public statements, I would guess that he (1) doesn't know a heck of a lot about hockey and (2) he's very impressed by the acquisition of "big name" players, like David Beckham. David Clarkson was the biggest name available. Randy Carlyle was a fan of him, Bozak, Orr, Bolland, McLaren, and not a fan of Grabo and MacArthur. Bernier seems to be a factor of (3) Leiweke liking him and wanting him aboard.

Carlyle and Leiweke have strong opinions about team building, whereas I don't think Nonis has really strong opinions about anything. He'll serve Carlyle just as well as he served Burke.

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#22 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 01:15PM
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@MaxPower417

Totally agree that we are not celebrating in the streets next year about winning the cup.

But does that mean we place a higher premium on the returns for DAN "just in case", or do we consider the rewards to marginal improvements -- which is what Nonis is doing? He's doing the latter, and he's not as mindless as his bashers are making out him out to be. and on that I stay quiet for a while -- or others are going to trash us all!

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#23 MaxPower417
August 01 2013, 01:16PM
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@Jeremy Ian

"What I am focusing on is the business strategy for trying to put a better team on the ice. If the Leafs continued to sit on tons of cap space and lost out again on surgical free agent insertions (which is what Nonis has done, basically), we'd be howling about his passivity."

Well the obvious answer would be that he believes he has upgraded the team. The most likely source of this incorrect evaluation, would that he (like all the leaf brass and coaches have asserted in interviews lately) believes that Bozak and Kessel really do have chemistry and that Grabo and Kessel do not. He also probably made a miscalculation in thinking that Liles was a tradeable commodity.

As for Mac + 2 mil vs. Clarkson + 5 extra years, well this was an example of supply and demand. Early on last season, the talking heads were discussing Clarkson as a good target for many teams for around 3 mil, then more and more teams seemed like a good fit and all of a sudden it was 3.5 mil, 4 mil, 4.5, 5, 5.5 even talk of 6 on July 5th.

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#24 MaxPower417
August 01 2013, 01:19PM
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@Jeremy Ian

"3. Bernier. We can think of him as a backup. Or we can thinking of him as trade bait. Reading that revealing Dave Poulin interview suggests that they saw the acquisition of Bernier has bait either for the C or D upgrade, or a future pick. Call this banking on a future upgrade. This is why the "on paper" calculus does not tell us about the winning strategy; it's a static assessment whereas I am trying to draw attention to a dynamic process."

I agree that is the optimal way, that this could turn out. However, try and come up with examples for a time that, that has ever really worked. Usually when goalies are forced to split a role, the value for both of them drops. Case in point: Schneider being traded for Bo freaking Hovart, Bryzgalov being put on waivers, Halak being traded for a middling prospect (and he was the one with the higher value at the time).

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#25 rw970
August 01 2013, 01:29PM
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@Jeremy Ian

"But what are you trying to optimize? Flexibility in case?"

First, there is great value in flexibility, as I hope I've made clear. I don't mean like super long range planning here, either. Just because no obvious upgrade is available on the FA market by July 1st doesn't mean there won't be opportunities before the season starts or during the season. But, yeah, if nothing really captures your fancy, there's no shame in holding off. At the marginal levels we're talking (about $8 mil), money doesn't NEED to be spent now.

Second, that money could have been used to upgrade the D this offseason. Tom Gilbert and Ron Hainsey are still available, and will almost certainly make less money than their last contracts.

"But he said he'd look to upgrade everywhere he could."

See, this sentence is difficult to parse. What does that mean? There are opportunity costs to everything. If you have $15,000 and it's not enough for the car you want, you don't blow it on a $15,000 speaker system, especially if you already have a $15,000 speaker system. The Leafs had scoring, and the Leafs had goaltending. What they didn' have was a No. 1 centre, and good defensemen. Just because a centre wasn't available doesn't mean you plow scarce resources into what is, if you already have those things. That's not upgrading sensibly. I don't even think it's upgrading.

"A lot of teams are looking at C and there was no alternative in sight. So he upgraded where he could."

This really isn't true. There were plenty of better alternatives to Bozak, even within the Leafs' roster. Kadri and Grabovski would both have been better.

On the market, there was Ribeiro and Weiss. I don't think either of them are so great, but they're certainly better than Bozak. He wasn't forced into Bozak.

We know this because Nonis (a) bought out Grabo first, (b) only then resigned Bozak after Bozak his FA, and (c) didn't even reach out to other FA centres.

"Or we can thinking of him as trade bait."

Eh. Giving up valuable assets to get a valuable asset you plan to use later to acquire another asset seems like a pretty circuitous strategy to me, and fraught with a lot of potential for screwups. Cap flexibility gets you all the same benefits for cheaper that you can use on more things.

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#26 millzy09
August 01 2013, 03:22PM
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For all the belly-aching about the Grabo buyout not necessarily in this thread), I'm surprised everyone just looks past the Komisarek one. In my opinion, Komi's hit was way easier to swallow and would leave room to cut ties with Liles, a much much MUCH more unmanageable contract at this point. Why on earth was using a free buyout on a guy with 1 year left such a priority?

Liles may be usable now as a 5/6, but bet your bottom dollar that Rielly will be playing season after next and he is a direct replacement for Liles...who will still be on the books for 2 more years AFTER this upcoming season. Getting rid of Liles cures what ails here, at least short term.

I've stated before, I think Clarkson will be a great fit on the Leafs and will be fun to watch. Problem is, he doesn't bring enough to the table to warrant money, term, or either separately. The opportunity cost is far too great and I think this deal handcuffs the Leafs big time.

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#27 Badger M
August 01 2013, 07:24PM
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On another note, not a fan of the Like system lol

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#28 nonikhanna
August 02 2013, 08:43AM
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I think the leafs are a better team overall, but capwise we might be screwed. The clarkson and bozak contacts will be haunting us for years.

My prediction is gonna be bozak and maybe(probably not) clarkson will be on the 3rd line by the end of the season, with kadri and bolland centering the top 2.

Bozak will be an expendable 3rd liner and bolland will be looking for a huge raise along with kessel and phaneuf. THEN the leafs might be screwed if the cap doesnt go up by at least 10 million.

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#29 Jeremy Ian
August 01 2013, 03:43PM
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@Ryan Fancey

The advanced stats vs watch the game debate is not very compelling -- to me, anyway. A lot of variables should go into the analysis (and have gone into this debate we're having here). So, your effort was well-placed.

OK, thought experiment, so we don't go round and round on whether we think Clarkson's a downgrade (we've all vented enough on that) or whether Weiss was a more plausible C1 ($4.9m for 5 years when he's a 30-year old with injury issues, ok ok I said I proposing a different line of thinking...). Let's just say the options were DAN vs ACN (Absorb Capacity Now), and MaxPower and RW prefer DAN, I was making the case for ACN.

Here's the experiment: which team other than Ottawa (more on them maybe another time as a business model) has upgraded without running into cap issues?

Let's just compare the Leafs. It's just another way to assess your unflattering verdict on Nonis et al.

Addendum: there's an earlier thread with interesting data on resource allocation.

http://theleafsnation.com/2013/7/31/how-the-leafs-have-shifted-asset-allocation-for-2013-14

Two observations: the Leafs had a TON of idle players commanding salary and one could argue that management focused on this imbalance the most. Just a thought.

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#30 millzy09
August 01 2013, 08:10PM
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@Badger M

I don't mind it. The buttons themselves are pretty obnoxious though.

What is being said about the quality of comments by having a button 4x the size of the other saying "Trash it!"? hahaha.

Take a page from TSN. Yep and Nope small and integrated.

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#31 WatsonB
August 02 2013, 10:10AM
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test

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#32 Hoogy
August 04 2013, 01:28PM
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@WatsonB

This is the best comment on this whole piece about how this year's Leafs stack up. It appears that the so called in the know commentators all want to vent on Nonis. This is really interesting to me especially given the fact that MLSE makes decisions on personnel all the time and all the writers do is just comment on the moves made.

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#33 SchulzEricT
August 15 2013, 03:55AM
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Luc wrote:

Ryan, I'm unsure how you consider yourself a writer.

If you had watched grabbo play at all last year you'd know he was a complete dud, and needed to be moved. Augmenting the team with Clarkson, Bolland, and Bernier make the leafs instantly more dangerous overall.

If the leafs hadn't made any moves this offseason you'd probably be complaining about that too, no one needs this constant negativity... Go watch soccer or something

Go Leafs Go.

He watched Grabovski all year, and also Bozak all year. He then checked out all the advanced metrics, all of which indicate that Grabovski annihilates Bozak. Click on virtually any link on this site and you'll see that illustrated. I mean, you saw Grabovski not work as a 3rd line checking center, and wanted to dump him? I'd've been livid that my coach used probably my most talented center as a checker. Using players incorrectly doesn't mean the player sucks, rather it reflects poorly on the coach.

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#34 SchulzEricT
August 15 2013, 04:05AM
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@WatsonB

Bolland is a better shutdown center than Grabovski, I agree. But you also think that Grabovksi needed to be cut loose because he didn't flourish in that role. As every single argument on this site has made (100% that I've seen, at least), the correct move would've been letting Bozak go rather than Grabovski. It's interesting that you think Bernier is an "infinite" upgrade on a goalie that he has a 0.2% better save percentage than, career (that's 0.002, as in .912 vs .910), and the same over the course of last year. Wow, you have low standards for what constitutes "infinite." Arguing that MacArthur isn't as good as Clarkson because Clarkson got paid more doesn't really do anything to counter the argument that Clarkson is overpaid. Do you see why your argument there is dumb (I mean, beyond the fact that it's wrong)? You are basing Clarkson's ability on a season in which he far outperformed his career numbers. That's called paying high, and that's how you screw up your team. It's unsustainable. MacArthur, on the other hand, was a great player on one of the best 2nd lines in the league over the last 2 years (MacArthur/Grabovski/Kulemin) before that line was broken up this year, for seemingly no reason. You also said that MacArthur won't ever drop his gloves to defend a teammate literally one sentence before mentioning that he has done it. The article was littered with negativity because almost all the moves your organization has done has been something that hurt the team; either losing talent, or overpaying to end up with a net wash, in terms of talent. Sorry that he wasn't happy with that, and he didn't write in a positive way about how your GM is making a lot of mistakes.

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#35 SchulzEricT
August 15 2013, 04:12AM
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@dougie

If you think Grabovski and Kessel have never meshed, then you must be wondering why Bozak was resigned, since his chemistry with Kessel is much, much worse than Grabovski's.

http://theleafsnation.com/2013/7/9/not-advanced-statistics-grabovski-is-still-better

Orr and McLaren aren't upgrades on Levio and Biggs because they don't do anything well other than fight. Therefore, anybody doing anything well to help their team win a hockey game would be an upgrade. Otherwise, it's a wash. Big and tough? Wow, if I was hiring bouncers, that might be nice. Instead, you are trying to fill out a hockey team. How about having, I don't know, hockey skills?

http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2013/6/17/4429758/colton-orrs-contract-extension-is-2-years-and-1-85m-too-long

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