Do the Leafs recent decisions reflect the clubs' overall mentality?

Jess Pincente
July 03 2016 07:20AM

Things were so good for a while. Yesterday, the Leafs signed Roman Polak.  Yes, it is only a one-year deal, and he's a "good guy to have in the dressing room".  Whatever.  I cannot say that I am too impressed with that signing.  I cannot say that I am too impressed with the signing of Matt Martin, either.  His contract is not awful, but I find that deal somewhat hard to justify.

I also cannot say that I am too impressed with the Leafs 2016 draft class.  They passed on a few high-quality players and selected overage players that may not have the highest ceilings.  And yes, I am still bitter that they passed on Vitali Abramov. Twice, even!

Another thing I question is the Frederik Andersen trade.  The move reflects a win-now mindset- one of the first of it's kind in the Leafs organization left a lot of people wondering where the Leafs are headed next season. 

I know I am not an optimist.  After the last few years, can you blame me? The moves made under the leadership of Brendan Shanahan had me optimistic and excited about the future. However, these past few weeks have made me begin to question what the heck the Leafs are thinking.  

Read Article | 28 Comments

5 low-risk picks at the 2016 NHL Draft

Jess Pincente
June 22 2016 02:58PM

Though I'm sure we would love if each of the Leafs' picks in the upcoming entry draft turned into regular NHLers, that likely won't happen.  

Players with high ceilings often come with greater risk value.  There are usually glaring question marks surrounding their games- whether that be talent wise (for example, an offensively gifted player who can't defend if his life depended on it) or character wise (attitude issues being the most common).  

On the other end of the spectrum, teams may opt to draft players with a lower risk value.  Though these players may not have the highest ceilings, they are appealing to GMs in such a way that they have a decent shot of making the NHL or even the AHL.  They aren't the types of players to fall off the face of the earth. Though they may not turn into NHL superstars, players like this often find themselves playing third or fourth line minutes.   

The first overall pick comes with an almost zero risk factor.  Picks in the top 5 are kind of hard to screw up. Once you begin to move past the top 15, picks become more interesting and complex.  The types of players teams select says a lot about an organization's mindset and where they see themselves in the next 5 years or so.  That being said, let us take a look at the characteristics of a low-risk pick, a few "safe" picks in this year's draft and whether or not the Leafs should take a flyer on any of these players.  

Read Article | 13 Comments

#AfterAuston: Adam Fox

Jess Pincente
June 13 2016 10:27AM

Since his days of sniping on Chinese invitational teams, Adam Fox has grown a bit - but not much. Despite his 5-foot-10-inch and 185-pound frame, Fox had a fantastic year with the USNTDP, setting a program record for most points by a defenceman in a single season and scoring at a near point-per-game pace.  

A name I've heard used in comparison to Fox is Shayne Ghostisbehere. While comparing Fox to Calder nominee Ghostisbehere may be a bit of an overshot, Fox's elite offensive skill is at least worthy of a conversation.

In our next #AfterAuston draft profile, we will be taking a look at Adam Fox, and whether or not he should be of interest to the Leafs.  

Read Article | 4 Comments

#AfterAuston: Brett Howden

Jess Pincente
June 07 2016 10:00AM

Toronto's prospect pool has become quite impressive over the past few years.  With names like William Nylander and Mitch Marner comes great excitement, and the excitement will continue this year with the drafting of a young, franchise player.  And no, I'm not talking about you, Patrick Laine (hence the #AfterAuston hashtag).

Though hockey fans typically enjoy forwards of the flashier variety, for pure entertainment sake, two-way and defensive-minded forwards are crucial to the successful functioning of a good team.  

In our next #AfterAuston profile, we will examine a player whose skill set, size and style of play allows him to do exactly that. Today, we will be profiling Brett Howden, centre for the WHL's Moose Jaw Warriors.

Read Article | 3 Comments

What we learned about Auston Matthews at the World Championships

Jess Pincente
May 31 2016 07:30AM

Leafs fans are certainly no stranger to the hype surrounding Auston Matthews.  We know he's an amazing, big, skilled forward with a great shot and fantastic hockey sense.  I'm sure many of you have seen the fantastic work done by Reddit user ImHuge in creating Auston Matthews' extended highlights for each of the 10 games Matthews played for Team USA at the World Hockey Championships this year.  Though the young American team placed fourth, Matthews had a great showing at the tournament, finishing fourth in tournament goal scoring (6 goals and 3 assists in 10GP) and tied for the team lead in points.  

ImHuge's extended highlights were unique in the sense that they focused on not only Matthew's obvious point-producing skill, but his offensive and defensive contributions and playmaking abilities.  Taking a careful look at these highlights will help give Leafs fans deeper insight into the player their team will (presumably) be drafting in June- and this is exactly what I intend to do.  

Read Article | 10 Comments