May 22 2013 10:27AM
Alex Burmistrov, via Wikimedia commons
Thomas Drance has a post up on Canucks Army this morning about the availability of players like Alex Burmistrov, Nino Niederreiter and Ryan Johansen. The Maple Leafs aren't in the same position, forward-wise, as Vancouver (meaning, Toronto has the ability to score goals on occasion) but it probably wouldn't be a bad thing to kick the tires on any of those three players.
I've been thinking about the success of the New York Islanders this season, how on a shoestring budget, they wrangled together not just a team that made the playoffs, but one that was also 11th in Corsi Tied. They slightly improved from last year's 17th from a team that needed good goaltending to make the playoffs to one that could survive even if the goalie was below average.
The Leafs were 29th in Corsi Tied this season. They performed much better in the playoffs, thanks to a blogger-approved, optimized lineup with Jake Gardiner given a prominent role and Nazem Kadri moving up to the first line centre position, as well as a strong two-way unit in Mikhail Grabovski, James van Riemsdyk and Nik Kulemin that excited a lot of commenters and commentators.
There's something about the Islanders' improvement that I think teams can learn from.
May 21 2013 01:36PM
Leo Komarov via Wikimedia commons
An interview with Leafs fourth liner Leo Komarov popped up in Sport RU this morning. Pension Plan Puppets has a translation, where on first glance it appears that the Maple Leafs may lose their pesky Uncle Leo to the KHL and Dynamo Moscow:
- Maybe it's time to come back to Dynamo?
- My contract with Toronto is over. There are negotiations about coming back to Dynamo. Maybe. Or I could go to Australia, I think there's a hockey league, too.
That doesn't really pass the smell test, however.
May 20 2013 01:17AM
Image via Mark Staffieri at Ice Hockey Wiki
There's going to be a lack of Toronto Maple Leafs-related news until the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs. This week I'm focusing much of my time tracking zone entries for the Memorial Cup (work will be published over at Yahoo's Buzzing the Net) and only doing so because there is an absolute glut of prospects at the event.
Three of them, Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, will be well out of reach by the time the Toronto Maple Leafs pick, which could land anywhere between 19 and 22nd, depending on how the second round of the playoffs shakes out. If New York, Ottawa, Detroit and San Jose were all to win their series… that would bump Toronto up to 19th. While that's a possibility, it won't put Toronto high enough up to put them into Drouin territory.
However, there's a familiar name at the Memorial Cup familiar to Leafs fans.
May 17 2013 11:58AM
Clarke MacArthur was picked up for a song late in the 2010 free agency period. There was nothing terribly wrong with MacArthur. He scored 16 goals in a season split between the Atlanta Thrashers and Buffalo Sabres the year before, but apparently, the Thrashers' acquisition of Andrew Ladd that summer made MacArthur an expendable piece.
Ladd has since become the captain of the franchise after the move to Winnipeg, while the team walked away from MacArthur's $2.4-million arbitration award, one they didn't really fight. Reading up on it now, it sounds like the Thrashers terribly mis-managed MacArthur, seeing the 16-goal scorer as a third liner who didn't fit into their system.
The Leafs, who had the cap room, spent the aforementioned song on MacArthur, which ended up being $440K less than the qualifying offer MacArthur rejected. The Leafs re-upped him for two seasons two summers ago, a more appropriate $3.25-million, and he scored 20 goals in 2012 and a pro-rated 16 in 2013.
He's up for free agency again, but there is very little buzz.
May 17 2013 11:00AM
via Claus Anderson/Getty
Okay, maybe that wasn't the *big* news of the day, but it's something that happened. Tyler Bozak, the first-line centreman for the Leafs for the last four years, is an unrestricted free agent this summer and it doesn't sound like the Maple Leafs have a huge interest in bringing him back.
In the playoffs, the Leafs were short-handed for two games without Bozak—games six and seven—and replaced his spot in the lineup with Nazem Kadri and filled Kadri's spot with Joe Colborne. In an effort to stack the deck against Bruins' defenceman Zdeno Chara, Kessel spent a lot of time in the playoffs, pre-Bozak injury, on a line with Kadri while Bozak played with Joffrey Lupul and Matt Frattin as an improvised third line.
Kessel's offence was unaffected by this.