The Toronto Maple Leafs' Great Experiment

Cam Charron
September 11 2013 07:07AM

"There hasn’t been a higher profile test case of hockey analytics condemnation of a team yet." - mc79hockey.com

Training camp for the Toronto Maple Leafs starts this morning, and for the first time in his nearly two-year long run as head coach of the team, Randy Carlyle is putting his own training camp together with a roster that's 58-strong. 59 once Cody Franson gets himself under contract.

New general manager Dave Nonis had one modus operandi this offseason, and that was to get the players under contract that Carlyle wanted to play with. Out are speedy and skilled players Mikhail Grabovski, Matt Frattin and Clarke MacArthur. In are bruising tough guys David Bolland and David Clarkson. The Leafs made the playoffs last season with Grabovski and MacArthur in a reduced role—no matter how good they can be or were in the past for the team, it was proven that they weren't important to the team winning.

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Nazem Kadri signs team-friendly contract

Cam Charron
September 10 2013 07:33PM

One day before camp, Nick Kypreos is the one to break the news:

That's a hell of a price for the Maple Leafs. Dave Nonis was stone cold during this negotiation. It got a little messy, but he did what he had to do, and there may, just may be space to get Cody Franson under contract with the money the Leafs have left to spend. Here's the official release from the club. Per Darren Dreger, the annual average value is $2.9-million, just slightly higher than Logan Couture's bridge deal that wound up being a bargain for the San Jose Sharks.

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NHL 14 - Leafs Player Ratings

Justin Fisher
September 10 2013 04:40PM

Photo: EA Sports
I can't speak for all of you, but when I called in sick this morning, it was because I'm actually suffering from a cold. It wasn't because EA Sport's NHL 14 hit the shelves today - though, I still did manage to drag myself out of bed and pick it up.
 
Shut up.

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Is Nik Kulemin the odd-man out?

Cam Charron
September 10 2013 09:27AM

The situation is very clear: the Toronto Maple Leafs don't have the salary cap space to sign both Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson unless they a) move some salary or b) Dave Nonis is secretly a wizard. Barring the latter option, it makes sense to explore the names of players it makes sense to move. The preference is John-Michael Liles, but I'm getting a little antsy seeing Nik Kulemin's name pop up ever so often. His name has been dangled as trade bait every day for the last God-Knows-When.

Kulemin is a most interesting player. While there's a bit of excitement for Mason Raymond joining the Leafs in training camp, Kulemin has been a 30-goal scorer more recently than Raymond has been a 25-goal scorer. Their games are different—Kulemin is a more physical player while Raymond's talents (before his injury) lay in puck-possession, controlling the game in the offensive zone, and playmaking.

He's worth $2.8-million this season, but is stuck behind an excellent contingent of top six wingers headed into training camp: Phil Kessel, Joffrey Lupul, David Clarkson and James van Riemsdyk. He's under contract for one more year and $2.8-million isn't what you want to pay a third liner in a cap crunch year. Let's explore. Yay.

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TLN TOP TWENTY PROSPECTS: NO. 4 - Stuart Percy

Steve Dangle
September 10 2013 01:09AM

Name: Stuart Percy
Position: Defense   
Hometown: Toronto, Ontario
Size: 6’1", 187 lbs
2013 Team: Mississauga Steelheads (OHL), Toronto Marlies (AHL)
Acquired: Drafted, 1st Round, 25th Overall in 2011

I remember Stuart Percy's draft day.

While covering the 2011 Memorial Cup in Mississauga, I met Percy about a month before his draft day. Percy was playing for the host Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (now the Steelheads), and while he wasn't the biggest name on the team, he was making some of the biggest headlines.

Ranked 53rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting, it looked like Percy would go somewhere around the 3rd round. Brian Burke spoke very highly of Percy however, and suggestions came out that not only would the Leafs like to draft him in the 1st round, but that he may not even still be available by that point.

I was DMing Stuart on Twitter the day before and the day of the draft. Nothing in particular, until around zero hour.

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