What Phil Kessel and the Leafs need up front

Cam Charron
May 07 2012 02:10PM

If you have yet to read Kent Wilson's excellent "Content over style" post from last week over at Flames Nation, go and do so. Kent explains the vital importance of avoiding stylistic traps when evaluating a hockey player, instead focusing on the big picture: does the player do things that helps the team win games?

One area I think where the focus on player qualities over player outcomes can muddle things is in team building, specifically when it comes to player categorization, ie; "roles" on a club. For example, NHL teams primarily employ bigger, tougher players in their bottom six forward rotation, especially when it comes to the the 4th unit. This is often an area where folks stop asking pertinent questions (can this guy outplay his opponents? Does he drive goal differential?) are instead start focusing on particular qualities (is he big? Is he mean? Can he fight?). This is how a person decides, for instance, to buy out Nigel Dawes after a 15-goal season only to to sign Raitis Ivanans.

We know that Brian Burke wants to add size to his top six, but what he really needs to do is add a guy who can drive play. Phil Kessel needs a guy next to him who can do that, and here's why:

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Jake Gardiner on Playoff Hockey with the Marlies

Andrey Osadchenko
May 07 2012 08:08AM

The Toronto Maple Leafs season is long over, but defenseman Jake Gardiner is still playing hockey, helping the Toronto Marlies as they vie for the AHL Championship.  Nations' reporter Andrey Osadcheko spoke recently with Gardiner about the Marlie's Game Two victory, and what it's like to be in the AHL post-season.

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Nation Radio - May 5, 2012

NationRadio
May 06 2012 12:52PM

With winter finally loosing it's icy grip in Canda (well, except in Calgary apparently) and all the great white north teams out of the playoffs, thoughts are unviersally turning to the upcoming draft and free agency. Those topics plus the WHL playoffs and World Hockey Championships are explored today with Corey Graham, Scott Cullen, Jim Byers and others.

This is Nation Radio.

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Free Agents: Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils

Jonathan Willis
May 03 2012 09:17AM

The New Jersey Devils are in a situation that no team likes to find itself in. Zach Parise’s contract expires this summer, and not only does he look likely to test the market but he also seems a safe bet as the NHL’s most sought-after forward.

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Free Agents: Ryan Smyth, Edmonton Oilers

Jonathan Willis
May 02 2012 08:41AM

Ryan Smyth’s return to the Edmonton Oilers basically took place in three parts. At the start, fans in Edmonton were thrilled when the rumours first surfaced, more thrilled when they realized the cost for Smyth was just Colin Fraser and a seventh round pick. Early in 2011-12 Smyth flourished, scoring 12 times in his first 25 games with the team, and the jubilation persisted. Unfortunately, the scoring disappeared in December and never returned, raising questions about his future with the team.

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