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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Why Not Use IIHF-Sized Rinks?

JP Nikota
July 04 2012 11:37AM

Photo source: hockeyfans.ch

 At first blush, this idea made all the sense in the world to me; I felt that it had the potential to fix so many of the NHL's current woes. Maybe the league wouldn't have to be constantly changing rules if it could just increase the ice surface.

I know what you're thinking: this was an unrealistic prescription from the get-go. The NHL would never expand its ice surfaces. Teams would lose important rows of expensive seats, and sight lines might be ruined in the upper bowls. The short-term cost of renovations would be steep, and the long-term loss of revenue from seats would be unpalatable to owners, many of whom are already in tight to keep their teams in the black.

But I'd like to focus on what it might actually do to the game itself, for a moment. I've taken to examining what European statistics I can get, and have enlisted the help of European hockey journalist Risto Pakarinen (@puckarinen).

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