The big news from today is obviously the Cody Franson signing, but these stories from both James Mirtle and Terry Koshan indicate that I was a bit quick in jumping the gun suggesting that Franson wouldn’t be able to return to the Leafs for a lockout-shortened season.
“We would have two hurdles to clear — the lockout first and the Leafs would have to sign him,” Franson’s agent, Gerry Johannson, said on Monday afternoon.
“If those two things happen, he can return.” [Toronto Sun]
That’s sort of ambiguous, particularly since Franson is quoted in the Brynäs release as saying “stay the whole season”. Obviously what players do is more important than what they say, but the Leafs and Franson reached a critical impasse this past offseason and he was one of the few un-signed restricted free agent.
James suggests that Brynäs is using Franson’s status to their own benefit, by signing an NHLer in a league where NHLers aren’t necessarily allowed to be signed just yet:
At the moment, Brynas can call his deal a full season one because he doesn’t have a contract and was in a stalemate in talks with the Leafs anyway.
Every indication, however, is that the Swedish club doesn’t intend to prevent him from returning to the NHL in the event a deal gets done.
It’s a bit of a loophole, but one that benefits Franson. And Brynas, at least for now. [Globe & Mail]
It all comes down, in the end, to how Brian Burke chooses to move after the lockout. I would obviously prefer the Leafs hold onto Franson.
That was the big news on the day, but I was also presented with an interesting math problem in a post I found via “UK Hockey Fan” that went up this morning.
“I abhor the shoot-out but it plays a big part in hockey now. Nine of the Leafs games finished this way with a 4-5 final record. The goalies didn’t do bad saving 15 from 24 (.624) but the shooters left much to be desired with just 8 markers from 25 efforts (.320).” [UK Hockey Fan]
Now, let’s just figure this out. “PDO”, or the addition of shooting and save percentages, is usually applied only to even strength situations. But let’s use it in context of the shootout, where the Leafs’ scored on 32.0% of their shots and opponents scored on 37.6% of theirs.
The NHL as a whole, since the shootout’s inception, has had an overall shot percentage of 32.7%, which isn’t too far of a deviation from where the Leafs were in 2011-12. Obviously goaltending was the issue for the Leafs in the shootouts, since the NHL as a whole was about five percentage points (67.3%) better over its span.
Take a look at average shooting:
Here’s my theory then, what the Leafs ought to have done to improve on their 4-5 shootout record is to put players as the first two shooters who are proven scorers at a rate of 32.7%. Coming into this season, unfortunately, that was a very low number:
Only Nik Kulemin had a higher percentage and had taken a significant enough number of shots to make us think he’s better than average. Basically, the thought is, put your best players out in order. The first two shooters are the only ones guaranteed a shot, so the order doesn’t matter for them.
The reality, with a young team, is that you can’t really predict where each shooter will trend. Only Tim Connolly and Joffrey Lupul scored more than one shootout goal on the season, despite being two of the weakest Leafs (17.4% and 21.4%) coming into the season.
4-5 isn’t a bad record. If you flipped nine coins, chances are 50% you’d get heads less than half the time. The fact the Leafs have had so few successful shootout artists points to the fact that the coaching staff seemed to have a knack for using the right guys in the right spots.
Because this is more damning:
Predictably, Andrew Raycroft wasn’t good at this.
Of course, it is mostly a coin flip, so…
- On The Forecheck has the scorecard on the Brett Lebda-Cody Franson/Matt Lombardi trade. [On The Forecheck]
- Guelph goalie Garret Sparks, a Leafs draft pick, was named first star of Sunday’s CHL action. [Buzzing the Net]
- Tyler Biggs had a pair of goals Sunday, but Steve Burtch focuses more on the development of him and Jamie Devane as power forwards this season. [Pension Plan Puppets]
- Joffrey Lupul with a message to fans [Ask Men]
- A survey of how statistical geeks (myself included) ranked the offseason signings. Just one Leaf, but hockey-metricians ranked him very high. [Puck Prospectus]
- The Toronto Marlies released new third jerseys Saturday. Chris Cremer of SportsLogos.net is reminded of the now-defunct OHL Marlboros. [sportslogos.net]
- Ellen Etchingham on the standard of diving around the NHL, and how the league works in cycles to eradicate certain types of play. [Backhand Shelf]
- Around the Nations, Jared Lundsford at NHLNumbers explains why the Lockout won’t wipe out the whole season. [NHLNumbers]
- Thomas Drance discusses how the NHLPA are schooling the owners in the public relations war. [Canucks Army]