Kessel's Cup Run is Karma For Those Who Doubted Him

Dom Luszczyszyn
May 11 2016 02:08PM

Photo Credit: Charles LeClarie/USA TODAY SPORTS

With last night’s thrilling overtime victory over the Capitals, the Pittsburgh Penguins inched closer to hockey’s ultimate prize, while the Leafs reward for helping them get there diminished.

It’s turning into a very cruel punishment for Leafs fans. The value of the first round draft pick they obtained in exchange for Kessel is decaying at the same rate as his perceived value rises. With each big goal Kessel scores for a team on their way to a Stanley Cup, the trade looks worse and worse.

And it already looked pretty bad at the time.

In exchange for Kessel, the Leafs effectively moved up 30 spots in the draft, got a third and a couple of decent prospects. They also had to swallow $1.2 million of Kessel’s $8 million contract themselves for the next seven seasons. That’s not a great package for an elite first line winger, especially considering the Leafs sweetened the deal by retaining salary.

The Leafs sold short on an elite player essentially because of a poor reputation. Yes, it was probably necessary for the full rebuild to take shape – the Leafs wouldn't have finished last with Kessel on the team, that's for sure – but that doesn't make the return any less underwhelming given his talent level.

It was a culture change. Kessel was the poster boy of a failed regime. One that won three playoff games during his entire tenure as a Leaf and famously squandered a fourth in historic fashion. The Leafs simply couldn’t win with Phil Kessel.

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LGD: #BellLetsTalk About Maybe Winning A Game?

Dom Luszczyszyn
January 28 2015 11:43AM

It's been 19 days since the last Leafs win. It's been 28 days since the last Leafs win against a real team (one that's playoff-bound). It's been 43 days since the last Leafs regulation win against a real team. To put it simply, it's been a tough couple of weeks here in Leaf land.

Carlyle was fired about halfway through the downward spiral, and while the process has been better, the results haven't followed. Tonight's game against an awful Devils team should be a chance to reverse that. Whether that's actually in the Leafs best interest is a different story for a different day.

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Leafs Mid-Season Report Card

Dom Luszczyszyn
January 12 2015 07:00AM

report card january 2015

The Leafs have played 41 games OK fine, 42 games this season... (this post is a bit late because every TLN staff member is still hungover from Tuesday) which means we're at the midway point of the season. That makes a perfect time to evaluate how the Leafs have performed so far this season.

To do that, we compiled some regular stats and some fancy stats, and then sent it away to the newest member of The Leafs Nation family, Justine Collard (who you can follow on the Twitters at @justinetalk) to make the infographic you see above.

We graded the Leafs in three fairly obvious categories: Offence, Defence, and Goaltending. Using their league rank in various metrics, we gave them a letter grade for each category. Simple enough, right?

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Goodbye Randy

Dom Luszczyszyn
January 06 2015 02:06PM

View image |

Today, Randy Carlyle was relieved of his coaching duties with the Toronto Maple Leafs, bringing an end to his 195 game tenure behind the Leafs bench.

Carlyle's tactics have long been a sticking point for many fans causing a pretty big divide between the compete and calculus crowd, but as the losses piled up the divide became noticeably smaller as even those that shouted "He won a Cup!" from the rooftops couldn't deny that the process just wasn't working.

Yes, this team is still on pace for 95 points, but they certainly aren't playing like one that belongs in the playoffs and their most recent losing skid has only amplified the problems that beget this team. Night after night the Leafs get dominated by literally any team, and night after night there's no explanation. 

Mind boggling, right?

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Estimating the Leafs PDO

Dom Luszczyszyn
December 17 2014 12:30PM

It's the same story, different year it seems. Night after night, the Leafs get out-shot, out-played, out-possessed, but almost never outscored. The Leafs are currently on a 10-1-1 streak right now playing some very good teams in the process and beating them handily to boot. But they haven't played all that great, they've just been scoring by the boatloads while the goaltenders bail them out.

The truth is, this happens to every team, even bad ones. Buffalo was on a 10-3-0 tear before last night and for a while Calgary seemed destined for the playoffs with an Avalanche-like season. But the smoke and mirrors of PDO-fueled play almost never lasts, and surely any Leafs fan (painfully) knows that by now. 

At the same time, it's obviously a bit curious that this sort of thing happens to the Leafs every single year, like clockwork. The rule of thumb is that all teams' PDO will regress towards 100, but there always exceptions to the rule. 

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