Leafs continue dismantling, waive Tim Connolly

Cam Charron
January 17 2013 11:32AM

Some interesting developments on the waiver wire on Thursday. It's a fairly rare occurrence that happens but during this week's roster crunch, teams have a chance to open doors to the hockey equivalent of baseball's "AAAA" players this week.

The first is Keith Aucoin, who was waived by the Leafs for the purpose of letting him continue skating on their first line with the Toronto Marlies. Him and his team-leading 37 points were claimed by the New York Islanders. There's a chance he could get another NHL shot.

The bigger story though, is who was placed on waivers Thursday. Tim Connolly was placed on there by the Leafs, along with a couple of players Toronto could use.

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Keep it Simple, Komisarek

Gus Katsaros
January 17 2013 10:12AM

First, stop hurting your teammates. 

Firing pucks and injuring Leafs winger, James Van Riemsdyk is only the latest incident.

Mike Komisarek has not lived up to the $4.5 million cap hit signed as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2009. That much is crystal clear.

With two more seasons, barring a trade or buy out at the end of the 2013 season – a likely candidate – Komisarek must make adjustments in his game. No longer can he aimlessly seek targets for body contact, he has to change things up.

It’s doubtful he can ever justify the $4.5 million cap, and never did, but with some tweaks and a lower, altered expectation, for a specific role, not the cap hit, he could still be of use.

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Leafs ship Matthew Lombardi to Coyotes

Cam Charron
January 16 2013 06:49PM

I think for those of us expecting a bigger trade, this one sorely disappoints. It does, however, clear up some issues for the Leafs' roster this Saturday, namely the team's logjam at centre.

As it happens, Toronto couldn't collect any assets for Matthew Lombardi. The pick is a 4th rounder in next year's draft, or a 3rd if Lombardi re-signs with the Coyotes or "meets certain stats". That's likely a games played threshold, given Lombardi's concussion issues in the last three seasons. It's not a salary dump, because the Leafs are loaded with cap space this season.

Unfortunately, Matthew Lombardi did not work out in Toronto, with 8 goals in 62 games. He did his job, though, as the Leafs paid him so Nashville wouldn't have to, and in return the Predators exchanged Brett Lebda for Cody Franson. With Franson re-signing, that deal looks a bit better now.

The Leafs are still overloaded down the middle, with Tyler Bozak, Mikhail Grabovski, David Steckel, Jay McClement, and Tim Connolly on the depth chart, all of them legitimate NHLers. One of them may have to slide over to wing.

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Ron Wilson's effect on goalies

Cam Charron
January 16 2013 01:30PM

Even though Ron Wilson has been fired, it's still interesting to look back on his career and what he did with his goaltenders. Like I mentioned earlier, Dave Tippett and Ken Hitchcock's goalies can expect higher save percentages in those systems.

Wilson, however, well, let's just say the goaltending record in his time as coach was awful. The Leafs have bounced from below-average starter to below-average starter. The Leafs haven't had a goaltender play 50 games in a season since Vesa Toskala in 2008-2009, and they haven't had a goalie play 50 games in three consecutive seasons since Curtis Joseph between 1999-2002.

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Randy Carlyle's effect on goalies

Cam Charron
January 16 2013 12:16PM

Here are a few tables to get you going this year, whether or not Randy Carlyle improves a team's goaltenders. I used the same methods as I did for my similar pieces on Ken Hitchcock's and Dave Tippett's goaltenders, which found that goalies who played in those systems could expect a small increase in save percentages.

So I did the same thing for Randy Carlyle and here are the results. Basically, I looked at how goalies since 1998 through 2012 fared at even strength with Carlyle behind the bench and without Carlyle behind the bench. Given that Carlyle wasn't working with a full deck last season in Toronto, I excluded Toronto goalies from the study, but his Anaheim goalies from last season are included.

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