April 06 2016 09:10AM
Tonight we are about to enter possibly the most critical tank battle of the season, as the Leafs take on the Blue Jackets in the final home game of the season. Toronto might feel compelled to win their final game in front of a home crowd, but I assure you that's a bad idea.
A loss tonight guarantees that the Leafs cannot pass Columbus in the standings. That would officially lock Toronto into being no better than 29th overall in the league, having a 13.5% shot at the draft lottery, and a guarantee of drafting in the top 5.
Add to that, the Oilers are playing their final ever game at Rexall Place tonight against the slumping Canucks. A win for them would temporarily put the Leafs into possession of 30th in the league and give Toronto a shot having a 20% shot at Auston Matthews.
The stakes are high, and it seems like a Leafs win is imminent.
April 05 2016 08:11PM
On this episode, the guys talk about why the Jack Adams is silly, Kadri, Stamkos, Isles, Oilers, and more.
April 05 2016 12:00PM
When the NHL awards come rolling around in a couple months, there's essentially no chance there'll be talk of any Leafs bringing home hardware. And as a team in the league basement for seven months, nor should they.
Even when it comes to the late-season additions of young Marlies and their performance, there's no one eligible there for any rookie honours. And looking at the coaching staff, there's no doubt Babcock has done as much as he can with the least amount of talent in the league, but he won't be taking home his first Jack Adams this year by any means.
But further up the chain there's probably an argument to be made that Lou Lamoriello has had the best season of any general manager this winter. Like the above-mentioned roster and coaching staff, because of the standings he likely isn't about to get any sort of recognition either. But out of all of them, Lou and his front office would be the most deserving.
April 05 2016 09:00AM
Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman / USA TODAY Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly will need a new contract before next season.
The young defenseman - Rielly turned 22-years-old last month - is on the final year of his entry-level contract and is still seen a cornerstone piece for Toronto's future, as well he should be. Though Rielly's defensive game isn't top-of-the-lineup quality yet (though admittedly it has been this season when he's played with any partner except Matt Hunwick), the Vancouver-born blue liner has been consistent and productive while playing major minutes and handling matchup-type deployments this season.
Because of how productive Rielly has been and because of how many minutes he logs, he's going to cost the Maple Leafs a pretty penny on his second contract. That is unless the Maple Leafs opt to go with a bridge deal, which is almost always a mistake when it comes to a player with star potential.
Let's get into some of the issues that are likely to impact Rielly's second-contract valuation.
April 05 2016 07:29AM
You've seen the promos on Sportsnet and CBC, and you've gotten the emails inviting you to playoff drafts, be they for brackets or for individual scorers. The 8-9 week odyssey that leads to a Stanley Cup Champion and awful, scraggly beards, facial cuts galore, and hackneyed debates about the order in which the Cup should be handed out amongst veteran players on the proposed winning team -- they're all upon us.
Despite the dream of equality and parity the modern-day NHL provides, and the overtime/shootout loss points tightening up the standings in both conferences, and making it difficult to either rule teams out of playoff races for the first 60-65 games or so and certainly leading up to the halfway point, it's equally tough to differentiate between the mediocre teams to the lousy ones.
There are powerhouses, no question. But what about the other end of the standings, and the teams that seem utterly incapable of putting together any kind of consistent window of winning, let alone qualifying for the playoffs?