May 24 2013 01:12AM
In case you missed it over the past season, it’s become clear that Randy Carlyle seems to think fighting gives the Leafs some kind of competitive advantage. While I admit to some enjoyment from the occasional sideshow, it seemed ridiculous to link the success of the team to bad hockey players dropping their gloves to punch other bad hockey players. Since that seemed pretty stupid I decided to track it to see what kind of impact fights have for the Leafs.
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.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
May 21 2013 01:54AM
(Tyler Bozak's realistic value to the Toronto Maple Leafs is a dead horse that I intend to beat until you assume it was cremated)
We're inching closer and closer to the start of another off-season, filled with unrestricted free agency, trades, and all of that fun stuff. Of course, there's a lot of debate as to what holes the Leafs need to fill and where they can use an upgrade, but the subject of expiring contracts is clear cut. Despite being rather good at what he does, playoff healthy scratches and decreased regular season minutes have many believing Clarke MacArthur's reign of terribly above average play is coming to an end. Colton Orr, Ryan Hamilton, Ryan O'Bryne, Mike Kostka, and Tim Connolly are all UFA's at the end of the year, but all of those players are easily replaceable at the NHL level. This leaves Tyler Bozak, the team's current first line centre, as the main focus before contracts expire.
As I think we're all perfectly aware of at this point, I don't particularly like the idea of keeping Bozak around. I don't feel that he's particularly productive, and I don't feel that his advantages at the draw make that much of a difference. Others have expressed similar concern with different approaches. But there's still a point that the average fan will bring up, and that's Bozak's chemistry with Phil Kessel, something I don't believe actually exists.
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.