Leiv-OMG: Leafs defeat Wings 3-1 in final preseason game

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Josh Leivo couldn’t finish off the hat-trick and James Reimer couldn’t finish off the shutout, but the Toronto Maple Leafs closed the book on the 2013 preseason with a 3-1 win over Detroit on Saturday night. It was mostly AHLers for either side, so the result matters even less, but Toronto had a pretty good performance and a few of the bubble players had strong games.

Leivo, especially, who opened the scoring and also scored the 3-0 goal midway through the third period, and Morgan Rielly made his case to begin his season on the roster, salary cap and roster size limits be damned! For trading block players, Joe Colborne had an assist on all three Toronto goals and John-Michael Liles had both a goal… and a costly giveaway leading to the Red Wings only marker. James Reimer stopped 24-of-25.

If Randy Carlyle wanted to get one good, long, last look at Rielly. he certainly played him enough. Rielly had a game-high 23:42 in time on ice, the only player on either side coming close being 2012 Team Canada World Junior teammate Xavier Ouellet on the Red Wings with 23:08. I don’t think I’ve vocally stated my opinion about Rielly yet, but I don’t think it’s worth sending Liles down to the minors just to get a few looks at Rielly. To be a worthwhile year to justify knocking off the last “slide year” on Rielly’s entry-level deal, Rielly will need to play in the Top 4, and the Leafs are doing pretty well in that department already with Dion Phaneuf, Carl Gunnarsson, Cody Franson and Jake Gardiner.

I’m very interested to see what happens with Liles. I think he’s a worthwhile, useful hockey player. If expensive, he’s worth more on the Leafs at $3.875-million than on the Toronto Marlies at $2.9-million.

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Otherwise, this was generally a solid night for that first wave of players that are going to be called up to the Leafs. They handled a pretty good program in Detroit, out-shooting them 27-25 and generating the more dangerous chances in the early part of the game and it was scoreless until the 14:19 mark of the second because Petr Mrazek looked very sharp. See?

Troy Bodie looked dangerous offensively. He took a game-high 4 shots on net, there was Leivo, of course, and I thought David Broll looked good in the rare times I saw him. The thing I like about Leivo and Broll is that there’s some modicum of skill to go along with the fact that they’re big players. You can put those two on a powerplay and they won’t hilariously screw it up.

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Same thing goes for the defence. Andrew MacWilliam looked strong, as did Stuart Percy. The defensive picture is a mess right now because there’s a top 4, and then about 6 players that could plausibly the 5 and 6 on the team.

Just in case you missed it, Nazem Kadri drew both Detroit penalties. That’s kind of a thing he’s good at.

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  • STAN

    Actual Leafs Franson, Kadri, Raymond and Reimer had solid games against mostly AHL guys. Franson is SO much better than every other Leafs D-man, it’s silly. He’s calm, cool, collected and rarely panicks or makes an ill-advised pass. Morgan Reilly and Stuart Percy showed many of those same traits and did NOT look out of place.

    Up front Troy Bodie had a decent game, but we all know that he’s probably headed to the Marlies. His wife is Tim Leiweke’s daughter, so Tim made sure he’ll have family in Toronto, whether its the AHL or the big team. WIN-WIN for Bodie. Thank goodness there’s no nepotism in hockey.

    Reimer still hasn’t learned how to handle the puck and gives up far too many rebounds. Luckily, it was the Grand Rapid team shooting at him tonight, not the real Red WIngs. Oh, and would it be too much to ask for him to cover the upper part of the net? Hard to do, I admit, from ALWAYS being on your knees.

    If I were Nonis I’d be looking to trade JM Liles for a draft pick RIGHT NOW. TONIGHT. Perhaps to Calgary, which has lots of cap space and might be able to use his veteran presence. Nonis could throw another body into the deal to get it done. Maybe Colborne, who happens to be from Calgary.

    Otherwise Colborne will be snapped up off waivers by some team, not that he’s NHL calibre, but he is affordable and would be a decent AHL player.

    The best GMs in pro sports sell high and buy low. Dave Nonis is not among them. The top GMs know when a player’s value is at its peak and that’s when they ship them out. Nothing personal, just good business. Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays might be the best example.

    Even though the aforementioned Leiweke handed Dave Nonis a huge extension (despite not prove much of anything), we know from the evidence that Nonis is not one of the brightest GMs around. This, despite having the largest management coterie this side of Google. His VP ‘advisors’ must have been doing a rotten job or the Leafs wouldn’t be having cap issues and roster salary disparity that is almost embarrassing. Is David Clarkson really more than five times the value Mason Raymond? Or Carl Gunnarsson three times Paul Ranger? Dion Phaneuf six times Ranger or three time Franson? No. You get the feeling this wide disparity will come back to bite the Leafs. But moving on…

    Because they have so badly mismanaged the cap the Leafs will likely start the season with 22 players, 20 skaters and two goaltenders. Among the skaters will be Colton Orr. He’ll get to play 5 minutes a night with at least one fight.

    That leaves 19 spots for real players: 7 d-men and 12 other forwards.

    The only sure bets are JvR, Bozak, Kessel – 1st line ($13.8M), Raymond, Kadri, Lupul – 2nd line ($9.1M), Kulemin, Bolland, McClement – 3rd line ($7.6M). The spare parts are Orr, McLaren, Colborne and Smith ($2.7M).

    The back end will likely be Phaneuf/Gunnarson ($9.65M), Franson/Fraser ($3.3M), Gardner/Ranger ($2.1M) and Liles at $3.9M.

    Leafs goaltending is among the least expensive in the NHL at $4.6M for two players.

    So much for the Burke-Nonis philosophy of building teams from the blueline out.

    The reality is that a young D-man like Stuart Percy or Morgan Reilly could fill Phaneuf’s spot, at less than one sixth the price and, if you belief all the hype, Phaneuf is an all-star and would bring back a LOT in a trade. Better to trade while he’s still worth something (and highly overrated) than give him a silly extension. He’s still tradable now because of his expiring deal, but he won’t be after Nonis overpays him for another 3-5 seasons.

    Kessel, too, may be at his peak. I’d be working the phones to determine who has interest and what they might be willing to give up for him.

    Down the road from MLSE, AA isn’t doing his job if he’s not looking to trade Bautista for some pitching, just as Nonis is negligent by not putting out feelers for Phaneuf and Kessel.