Jake Gardiner Watchlist

Gus Katsaros
October 02 2012 02:02PM


Puck rushing defensemen create a noticeable hole once removed from the lineup.

That’s what Jake Gardiner is, a skilled puck rushing blueliner. The ability to take the line and set up in the offensive zone has spawned studies into the importance of zone entries. The early evidence is that there’s a big advantage to having a defenseman with the ability to gain the line.

The Deephaven, Minnesota native burst onto the scene last preseason, creating a ‘nice problem’  or ‘forcing Burke’s hand’  with the love affair spilling into the regular season .

And boy, can he move. 

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Curious Case of Casual Connolly

Gus Katsaros
September 27 2012 07:55AM

Tim Connolly is still under contract for another season. He was supposed to be the answer between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul, the first line placeholder until a better option appeared. He was injured in the preseason and lost the spot to Tyler Bozak.

He didn't help his cause with a steadilty eroding defensive game, earning him decreased minutes until late in the season where a brief resurgence earned him seven points in the final dozen games.

This one play stuck out in particular as I was at the game and got to see it from a few different perspectives.

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The Graduate: Nazem Kadri

Gus Katsaros
September 25 2012 08:00AM

As the Toronto Marlies take center stage opening training camp at the end of the week, some of the attention turns to one of the first players ever brought through the system implemented by the Brian Burke regime.

Named president and general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 29, 2008 in his first crack behind the Leafs draft he produced Nazem Kadri at a sexy 7th overall in June 2009.

The London native would have been the first homegrown player to graduate from the Leafs development process, you know, if there had been an NHL 2012-13 season.

But I digress.

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Leafs CHL Prospects Year Over Year Points

Gus Katsaros
September 20 2012 10:10AM

As Canadian Hockey Leagues fire up the generators for opening night, I thought I’d share some the Leafs point totals by players drafted from 2010 and returned to their respective CHL teams.

The three leagues under the CHL umbrella start their respective seasons WHL (47th) QMJHL (44rd) and the OHL (33rd).

With the NHL lockout, fans looking for alternatives have the option of following some of their own team’s prospects returned to the CHL, a likely natural lure to see future NHLers.

Basic boxcar stats don’t provide enough context for prospects development but they do still have a place in a symbiotic relationship with scouting notes. In both instances, you’re looking for something to stick out, be it an improved first-step burst, or an anomalous number in a place to pique curiosity to explore further.

One such anomaly that is easily pointed out below as we will see.

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Deconstructing Cody Franson

Gus Katsaros
September 18 2012 09:38AM

An unresolved question leading to the CBA expiry date on September 15 was the Leafs not signing Cody Franson. The 25-year-old rearguard is a restricted free agent coming off a uninspiring season after much expectation.

So let’s break down Franson.

Towering at six-foot-five with a modest 213-pound frame he has a long stride but lacks both first-step burst and top end speed. He appears unbalanced at times, such as in transition to backwards skating, limiting his mobility and agility. He stiffens up trying to maintain balance, in turn leaving big gaps he can’t close down fast enough.

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