The Leafs: What Happened?

Steve Dangle
April 13 2014 10:15PM


Uncle. Freakin' uncle.

I'm so tired of the Leafs debate being the pro-analytics crowd against the anti-analytics crowd. It really isn't that hard to see what happened this season. With the exception of this sentence, I promise not to use the word "Corsi" for the rest of this post.

There are a few reasons so bare with me. Let's start up top.

FORWARDS THE LEAFS ACQUIRED FOR 2013-14

  • David Clarkson - Cap hit of $5.25 million
  • David Bolland - Cap hit of $3.375 million
  • Mason Raymond - Cap hit of $1 million
  • Peter Holland - Cap hit of $870,000
  • Troy Bodie - Cap hit of $600,000

FORWARDS THE LEAFS LOST FROM 2012-13

  • Mikhail Grabovski - 2012-13 season cap hit of $5.5 million
  • Clarke MacArthur - 2012-13 season cap hit of $3.25 million
  • Matt Frattin - 2012-13 season cap hit of $875,000
  • Leo Komarov - 2012-13 season cap hit of 850,000

Here are five forwards the Leafs gained and four forwards they lost. There are some obvious omissions from this list of course but for good reason. Where's Joe Colborne? Well he only played five games last season. Sure, the Leafs could have used him when they needed a centre but he didn't exactly contribute to their success last year, which is what we're talking about. How about Mike Brown or Ryan Hamilton? They played 12 and 10 games respectively. Let's stick to the main players. 


NEW LEAFS POINTS PER GAME IN 2013-14
David Clarkson 0.18 (11 points in 60 games so far)
Dave Bolland 0.52 (12 points in 23 games so far)
Mason Raymond  0.55 (45 points in 82 games so far)
Troy Bodie 0.21 (10 points in 47 games so far)
Total 1.46

This season, these four players combined for 1.46 points per game with a cap hit of about $10,095,000. 

"WAIT A SEC!!! Where the hell is Peter Holland on this list?!?" A legitimate question. I'll explain my logic there in a moment.

OLD LEAFS POINTS PER GAME IN 2012-13
Mikhail Grabovski 
0.33 (16 points in 48 games)
Clarke MacArthur 0.50 (20 points in 40 games)
Matt Frattin 0.52 (13 points in 25 games)
Leo Komarov 0.21 (9 points in 42 games)
Total 1.56

Last season, these four players combined for 1.56 points per game with a cap hit of $10,475,000.

So why didn't I use Peter Holland? Well, because Peter Holland is Dave Bolland.

Huh?

You see, Dave Bolland didn't play the majority of this season due to injury. Peter Holland was Dave Bolland's injury replacement. Peter Holland never got to play in the games Dave Bolland did because the team felt there was no room for both players to be in the same lineup. Their centres are Bozak, Kadri, Bolland, and McClement. In that order. I could add Holland's stats but that would mean subtracting Bolland's. Holland had 10 points in 39 games for 0.25 points per game, so replace Bolland's 0.52 with that and it brings this year's group's average down to 1.19 points per game. Now, if Holland played in the place of, say, Colton Orr, then it might make sense to add him into the equation. He didn't.

GET TO THE POINT, STEVE

So what am I saying? I'm saying that in 2012-13, Grabovski, MacArthur, Frattin, and Komarov produced at almost the exact same rate Clarkson, Bolland, Raymond, and Bodie have this year. Keep in mind, Grabovski and MacArthur were considered "awful" last year, too.

"What's your point, Steve? Umm, aren't you forgetting that the Leafs got Jonathan Bernier and he stood on his head for them all season long?"

It is true that Jonathan Bernier had a great season. He finished 26-19-7 with a .923% save percentage. A goalie who stops 92.3% of the shots he faces is giving his team a chance to win and then some.

The problem: Last year James Reimer had a .924% save percentage. The guy stopped 92.4% of the shots he faced, or in other words, an almost identical number to Bernier's this season.

"So what are you saying? Are you saying that James Reimer is better than Jonathan Bernier? Are you saying he's as good? Stop it with the James Reimer love fest, nerd!"

No.

THE BERNIER TRADE

The Toronto Maple Leafs acquired Jonathan Bernier to be an upgrade on James Reimer. The Leafs traded away four assets in hopes of achieving this goal. Ben Scrivens, Matt Frattin, a 2nd-round pick, and $500,000 were dealt to make sure this season's goaltending would be better than last year's. Many people judge whether a team "won" a trade based on what Team A got vs. Team B. That's fine. Another thing you should consider however is this: Which team achieved their goal? 

The Leafs wanted an improvement in net. Did they get it? Would those four assets have been better-used on a defenceman or forward instead? I'll let you decide that.

The LA Kings needed a starter while Jonathan Quick was hurt. Ben Scrivens performed well and was later dealt for a draft pick after an internal asset - Martin Jones - proved himself worthy of the NHL. The Kings wanted to improve their offence. Matt Frattin and the Leafs' 2nd-rounder from the Bernier deal were packaged to acquire Marian Gaborik. The Kings ended up being a cap team this season so the $500,000 they received from the Leafs was a nice cushion for them. I'd say the Kings are very happy with what they've done. How about the Leafs?

Let me emphasize once more: Jonathan Bernier was excellent this season. I just think management's strategy was flawed.

THE REST

Are there other factors at work? Of course there are. Nazem Kadri was almost a point-per-game player last season. He isn't this time around, which certainly doesn't mean he's bad, but we did see it coming. 

Joffrey Lupul was above a point-per-game when he was healthy. He's healthier this season but he isn't scoring at an Art ross pace anymore.

Cody Franson was 8th in defensive scoring last season and currently sits 42nd this season.

Dion Phaneuf was 10th in defensive scoring last season and currently sits 45th this season (tied with Jake Gardiner, actually). We have conflicting opinions about the captain on this site and some like him more than others.

On and on and on.

Look...

Leafs management, coaching included, can cry about injuries all they want. They shouldn't expect the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning, or any any time to dry their tears, though. Dave Bolland is a good player but he ain't Pavel Datsyuk, Kris Letang, or Steven Stamkos.

I'm not saying the Grabovski buyout ruined the team, or that not re-signing MacArthur screwed everything up, or that the Bernier trade was bad. I'm saying Leafs management had a certain thought process heading into last summer and made some bets. They won on some, lost on others, and their losses appear to to have outweighed their winnings based on this season's results.

Leafs management whiffed. "Advanced" stats tell you that and they regular ones do, too.

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Steve Dangle has a YouTube channel with over 3 million views and is the co-host of the Steve Dangle Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud. Steve has also worked for CBC, the NHL Network, Leafs TV, Nike, the KHL, and most of all, the Toronto Zoo. stevedangle.com
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#1 nwamaddox
April 13 2014, 10:40PM
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You could always do a weighted average of Holland/Bolland to figure out their net contribution.

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#2 Sean Lannon
April 13 2014, 10:50PM
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Although I agree with everything in this article, I don't understand the reasoning of posting it now, apart from having final, end-of-season stats. I love reading & watching your material, Steve, but at this point (to me) it kind of feels like beating a dead horse. I'm glad I can finally get a break from this toxic team until the summer where I can either cry of excitement or weep of anguish over the moves they make over the summer (then, in September/October, be a critic of _____'s off-season moves).

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#4 Rottentomaoes
April 14 2014, 01:22AM
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Yeah I have to agree with Sean up there, pretty tired of seeing the same article recycled 300 ways about the trades and signings gone wrong that nothing can change now because what's done is done. Mind you the moves might have worked for the leafs if there was a competent coach behind the bench. And vice versa if we kept Grabo and Mac and they were used properly. So agree 100% with you except on, Bernier. I can't complain about him at all, I think he'll be great. Anyways, I'd like to see you guys write some articles about who you think the leafs should get in free agency or trade for, who's gone in the summer or you hope is gone etc. Granted you'll talk about draft picks soon enough but just something different. I know positivity and leafs is hard to match but there's gotta be something lurking around the corner for this team.

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#5 leafer2013
April 14 2014, 07:04AM
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@Rottentomaoes

I'm tired of the advanced stats crowd repeating the same old performance day in day out. THe show is old. I hate carlyle, I hate nonis, I hate most of the leafs but this material is starting to make advanced stats.

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#7 Gonzomaus
April 14 2014, 08:36AM
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@Steve Dangle

Oh, Steve you just don't get it. Goals, assists and point-totals are #numbers. Therefore advanced.

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#8 Rigor Mortis
April 14 2014, 08:57AM
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leafer2013 wrote:

I'm tired of the advanced stats crowd repeating the same old performance day in day out. THe show is old. I hate carlyle, I hate nonis, I hate most of the leafs but this material is starting to make advanced stats.

Tip: finishing your penultimate sentence helps your argument a lot more than world-weary sighing.

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#9 Rigor Mortis
April 14 2014, 09:02AM
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Rigor Mortis wrote:

Tip: finishing your penultimate sentence helps your argument a lot more than world-weary sighing.

And of course I mean penultimate PHRASE. Because Skitt's law.

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#10 Goon
April 14 2014, 11:26AM
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leafer2013 is a parody account guys.

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#11 Mxp
April 14 2014, 11:35AM
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Trotz isn't getting an extension!(Somewhere in Toronto Carlyle is crying)

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#12 Luc
April 14 2014, 01:55PM
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Can we all take a moment and just cry...

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#13 wes
April 14 2014, 10:29PM
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nwamaddox wrote:

You could always do a weighted average of Holland/Bolland to figure out their net contribution.

he did. it was 1.19 points per game. but, for around $10 million bucks they traded 4 players that, for the money, produced just about the same number of points (1.46 per game versus 1.56). And the goal tending numbers were also not far off so it's kind of like the leafs just took a step sideways. gotta hope for stronger seasons from the core and for kessel and jvr to duplicate. kadri, gardiner and reilly all need to take a step.

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