April 06 2016 12:29PM
We're only a few hours away from Garret Sparks' 16th start of the season (and 16th of his young career). He's never been a can't-miss goaltending prospect, but Sparks' career started off strong with a shutout victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Since then, his play has been up, down, and ultimately below average. Sparks carries an .897 SV% through 15 games played.
It might not be fair to expect a lot out of a 22-year old drafted in the seventh-round, but Sparks posted solid numbers in the OHL, ECHL and AHL before debuting this year. 15 games is not exactly a significant sample size, but the Leafs won't have much more to go on before they have to make a decision on their goaltending situation this summer. Sparks is an RFA in just a few months, and while Jonathan Bernier has one more year remaining on his deal, I have a hard time believing that Toronto will want to run with this tandem next season.
That brings us to this week's WWYDW question - what would you do with Garret Sparks?
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.