Thirteen thoughts: McClement, the frenzy, and goaltending

July 07 2012 08:55AM

I’m not going to voice my opinion on the Jay McClement signing yet. McClement was signed to be a third line, defensive centre – much in the mould of Sami Pahlsson on Randy Carlyle’s cup winning Ducks. McClement should help with the leadership void and the penalty kill, but the fact the bottom half of our forward group is starting to look like an episode of hoarders.

“[McClement] might push Steck down,” said Brian Burke. “But I think that’s where Steck probably belongs in terms of minutes, playing in the four hole, but on the first penalty-killing unit. So both those guys will probably end up with third-line minutes. He’s strong on faceoffs and in the last minute of a game, if we’re protecting the lead, he’s going to see the ice”. To tell you the truth, if we’re signing Mikhail Grabovski to a 5.5 million dollar contract and he’s putting up 50-60 pts per year, that seems like the kind of two way guy you want playing heavy minutes. 

Burke seems fairly committed to McClement and Steckel as the teams bottom six centers. That leaves Tyler Bozak, Tim Connolly, Matt Lombardi, and Joe Colborne auditioning for the #1 spot. I could see Lombardi finding his way on the wing (and Colborne for another year in the AHL) but Tim Connolly looks like he’s on his way out. He’s had a tough go (In Toronto and everywhere) but he’s a serviceable two-way player with one year left on his contract. I could see someone taking him.

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James van Riemsdyk at centre, suggests Carlyle

Cam Charron
July 06 2012 08:41AM

At this point, the best argument made for the Toronto Maple Leafs starting off James van Riemsdyk between Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul is that it absolutely keeps the second line consisting of Clarke MacArthur, Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin together. The second line has shown in the last two seasons the ability to tilt the ice the in the Leafs' favour.

But little else supports the argument. Van Riemsdyk was drafted as a winger, has spent his entire career as a winger, and, according to a statistic I saw on Twitter last night (and if it was your research, please mention in the comments so I can credit you), he's just 2-for-10 in his career on faceoffs.

Basically, JvR is not a centreman, but he is, according to Randy Carlyle, pencilled into that top-line centre position if nothing changes.

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The new reality of overpaid defencemen

Cam Charron
July 05 2012 01:27PM

That's an expensive check.

John-Michael Liles signed an extension this past season for four years and $15.5M, with an annual average value (AAV) of $3.875M. In a vacuum, paying a borderline second-pairing defenceman that kind of money to barely tread water possession-wise against below-average competition looks patently absurd.

Mike Komisarek signed three off-seasons ago to a contract that was to run five years and for $22.5M, with an AAV of $4.5M. In a vacuum, paying a borderline third-pairing defenceman that kind of money to not even tread water possession-wise against average competition looks patently absurd.

But with the recent defensive signings and the huge increase in the salary cap, these have somehow become workable deals.

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On Rebuilding - Part 4, The Toronto Maple Leafs

Kent Wilson
July 05 2012 10:48AM



(RexLibris continues his series on rebuilding this week with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Parts 1 through 3 can be found here, here and here.)

By: RexLibris

What are the common perceptions surrounding the Leafs and their recent rebuilding efforts? Okay, let’s be more specific, what are the common perceptions surrounding the Leafs rebuilding efforts that can be repeated in polite company? Here are a few that I would propose:

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If Mikael Backlund is available, the Leafs should pursue him

Cam Charron
July 05 2012 08:12AM

Reminder, Jonas Gustavsson will make $3M over the next two seasons in Detroit.

Some interesting possibilities. Sometimes teams get handicapped with a lot of clutter toward the back of their roster, and some good players get forced out. Yesterday, the Calgary Flames signed Akim Aliu and Paul Byron, who are, by my count, the 45th and 46th out of a possible 50 contracts for the Flames. Aliu's deal also makes him the 13th forward with an NHL contract for the Flames.

Remaining unsigned is former first-round pick Mikael Backlund, a centreman with 15 goals in his 138-game NHL career. He had 11 points in 41 games last year. I think he would be an exceptional candidate for the Toronto Maple Leafs' first line.

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