Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 11 2013 06:31AM
Slowly but surely, the Toronto Maple Leafs are chipping away at their remaining unsigned restricted free agents. Yesterday, Joe Colborne joined the family of players returning to the organization, signing a single year one-way deal that pays him $600,000.
So.. has he earned it?
As I talked about in an article back in February, Joe Colborne is a case of a player who managed to set expectations high, swiftly crush everybody's hopes, but is rebounding back into original form. Colborne joined the Leafs organization in 2010/11 via the Tomas Kaberle trade, and scored 16 points in his first 20 games with the Toronto Marlies, before notching an assist in his first NHL game. He began the next year by scoring 16 points in 9 games and being named AHL player of the month, but disappointed many by only adding 23 more in the next 56 games.
What wasn't publically known was that Colborne had suffered a wrist injury, severely limiting his ability to disperse the puck and use his reach to get around other players. Granted, you can still blame him; the proper thing to do would have no doubt been to get surgery immediately rather than struggle through it from late November until the Calder Cup Finals in mid-June, but a tangible reason was out there for his failures. But could he recover?
The answer, at first, was not really. He still struggled to heal correctly post-surgery, which was the exclamation point on a poor start to 2012/13. However, Colborne had his wrist "pop" (scar tissue heal) in December. Guess what? It turned out that maybe he wasn't kidding, scoring 19 points in his next 21 games and 36 in his final 43.
It may not be fair to bring Colborne back up to the "potential star centre" hype again. At this point, that's behind him. But he's still well on his way to being a legitimate NHL player, that can play in both top six and bottom six situations. A contract like this gives him the ability to prove that he's worth keeping on the team moving forward, with a cap hit low enough to have him on the roster whether they want to play him every night or not. It also gives him some guaranteed money. A 2-way that makes you $900,000 in the NHL and $150,000 in the AHL has more potential, but if he plays half a season in each league, he comes out with $525,000. It's the same reason you see so many fringe NHL/AHL vets go to Europe for a little less than NHL league minimum.
July 10 2013 12:25PM
If you're a sports analyst, one of the main problems is confronting the issue of survivorship bias.
In sports, results drive most of the business, even though the results from the previous year don't always impact the results in the next year. Very few teams across sports are willing to be patient and stick to a process that will lead them into making good bets. "Buy low" is generally accepted in the stock market but not in sports. The Toronto Maple Leafs this offseason have bought high on Tyler Bozak and David Clarkson, rather than bought low on Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin.
Say you have two players with a "true talent" of 20 goals per season. The first player got some bad puck luck and scored just 15, while the second got some puck puck, a few extra chances, and scored 25. More often than not, when choosing between the two players, a team will go for the 25-goal scorer, even though the 15-goal scorer would be cheaper and he's just as likely to produce at the same level in the future.
Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
July 09 2013 06:29PM
July 09 2013 02:16PM
It's a little rain? Steve, Adam, and Chris come together in the middle of the ridiculous Toronto rainstorm to talk about Tyler Seguin's Twitter, the Leafs signings, Luongo playing poker, and some embarrassing stories of their own.
July 09 2013 11:21AM
Over the weekend, Ontario-native and sun-drenched Kitsilano resident Blake Murphy made an excellent case in breaking down the debate between the "advanced" statistics relating to Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski. It's true that there are some good metrics out there used for evaluating certain aspects of defensive play that, yes, some NHL teams do use in making player evaluations, but I don't think that the concepts are particularly advanced. There is definitely a lot of opposition to the objective reaction of Dave Nonis' recent moves which is based on some mis-understandings.
But I want to circle back to Tyler Bozak, and I want to hammer home this point because Kessel will likely re-sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs and play out a large chunk of his career in Toronto, including the portion of his career where he can no longer be counted on to score 30 goals a season. Without a legitimate No. 1 centre by his side, he has become one of hockey's most productive wingers, and barring his slump at the start of the season when pucks weren't going in, an absolute treat to watch down the stretch and into the playoffs.
On the TSN Free Agency broadcast, I was a little peeved that the only regular panelist that seemed to encroach on my belief that Tyler Bozak's contract was not a positive for the Leafs was Ray Ferraro. In The Reporters segments, Bruce Arthur straight up called Bozak a "lousy player" but that wasn't about it. I noticed towards the end of the coverage, the tone had changed from "will Nonis get his man" to "Bozak isn't a No. 1 centreman... but he's not being paid like one" which sort of misses the point.