Building A Champion Part 2: Evaluating The Big Three

Dom Luszczyszyn
June 08 2016 07:00AM

The first step to building a Stanley Cup champion is establishing a core. We’ve done that already in the first part of this series.

To recap quickly, there’s seven key pieces on almost every Cup contender that make up the core: an elite number one centre, an elite winger, an elite d-man, a very good second centre, a strong fourth forward, a solid goalie, and a capable second d-man.

On the Leafs, these are the likely candidates for those spots going forward:

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Building A Champion Part 1: Establishing A Core

Dom Luszczyszyn
June 01 2016 07:00AM

As Pittsburgh and San Jose battle to take home the Stanley Cup, I’m sure there’s one thought thought that’s crossing every Leafs fans’ mind while watching: how long until we see the Leafs here?

It’s a valid question, but considering it’s steeped deeply in years of futility, the question is much closer to “seriously how much longer?” Yes, it’s been a while. Almost 50 years. Back when Brian Burke came aboard in 2008 he said that fans wouldn’t have patience for a five-year rebuild. As if after 41 years, they’d throw patience out the window. Eight years later, here we (still) are.

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

Dom Luszczyszyn
May 11 2016 02:08PM

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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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