My apologies to those of you who look forward to these power rankings, as I missed last week due to a rec hockey league injury. And my apologies to Joffrey Lupul, who is usually the butt of my injury jokes but since i was hurt before him this season I think he’s earned at least a few weeks of just being made fun of for sucking at defense and being slow. You’re welcome Joffrey.
As for the rest of the Leafs, thank you for once again difficult as hell to find the positives in this team.
1. Jake Gardiner (Last Ranking: #2)
On a team that’s short on silver linings, Jake’s got to be one of the few out there. He’s been promoted to the top pairing with Phaneuf. He’s had strong possession numbers, and under Babcock we’re finally seeing his booming point shot on a regular basis.
2. Leo Komarov (Last Ranking: 17)
Komarov seems to be off to even stronger start than the one he had last season, and admittedly I was certain it couldn’t be done. How long Leo keeps it going for I have no idea, but I’m going to enjoy this ride, and Komarov certainly seems to get the Franzen/Abdelkader/Holmstrom type role that Babcock loves, so expect him to continue seeing top line minutes.
3. Matt Hunwick (Last Ranking: 15)
I was caught up in Marincin and Harrington fever and completely ignored Matt Hunwick who seems to be content to play the role of Cody Franson this season. For the time being, Hunwick seems to be the answer for filling the gap in the top two defensive pairings, and honestly is helping make the blue line become the least objectionable part of this team.
4. Daniel Winnik (Last Ranking: 7)
Team leading scorer Daniel Winnik is officially the world we live in. It’s not surprising because he was the leading scorer during the start of the slump last season, but here we are one year later and the guy from the Ducks 3rd line is still the saving grace of the Leafs forward group. I guess if Komarov is Holmstrom that makes Winnik “in his prime” Cleary.
Hates going in the car but really enjoyed the beach. pic.twitter.com/S5duxI9jfD
— Daniel Winnik (@Danwinnik34) October 5, 2015
5. Dion Phaneuf (Last Ranking: 10)
Dion had a bit of a rough start to the year, but he may have finally found what he needs in a defensive partner now that he’s playing with Gardiner. The fact that Dion is tied with Winnik for the team lead in points provides some hope that maybe Babcock does have an idea of how to get the last good hockey out of Phaneuf.
Dion Phaneuf vs. David Clarkson
Some may argue Clarkson won, but we can all agree that society lost pic.twitter.com/CO21jgK8QU
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) October 17, 2015
6. Morgan Rielly (Last Ranking: 1)
I probably should have Rielly higher on this list because he’s certainly stepping up into the role as the Leafs true number one defenseman, and his possession numbers show that he’s not only that by default, but he is in fact a legitimate top pairing guy. The fact that I was in awe of so many others is actually encouraging, but I’d assume Rielly will assume his rightful place at the top soon enough.
7. Joffrey Lupul (Last Ranking: NR)
Yeah, I’m a little surprised that Lupul has been putting up points. I expected the poor defensive play, but the fact that he’s found the back of the net a couple of times is good enough to have him in the top ten of a 1-3-1 team. Hopefully Lupul can continue to add some value since he’s not going anywhere for the next three seasons.
Joffrey Lupul breaks the goal drought! (Both his own and his teams) pic.twitter.com/yLxHtvmH13
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) October 11, 2015
8. Nazem Kadri (Last Ranking: 3)
Kadri’s performance this season hasn’t lived up to high expectations that many of us had set for him. The fact that he’s the top scoring center and there isn’t really another center playing anywhere nearly as well as him bodes well for Nazem.
— Nazem Kadri (@43_Kadri) October 11, 2015
9. James van Riemsdyk (Last Ranking: 4)
Poor JVR. Just when he thought he was done with Bozak, he was pulled back in, though if Komarov continues to fill Kessel’s skates he’ll get by.
10. Nick Spaling (Last Ranking: 18)
The player who was essentially the cap dump throw-in for Kessel has been averaging 17 minutes a night, playing center and was part of the successful shutdown of Phil and Sid on Saturday night. Spaling leaves a lot to be desired, but he’s proving he’s at the very least a valuable minute eater.
11. Scott Harrington (Last Ranking: 5)
Harrington has held his own in the bottom role assigned to him. Being paired with Roman Polak doesn’t exactly make life easier. With Marincin and Corrado looking to play back into the lineup it seems possible that Harrington could be Marlies bound in the near future, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Good to see Scott Harrington in the lineup. Really nice kid. Expect him to have an unspectacular but solid NHL career.
— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) October 17, 2015
12. Shawn Matthias (Last Ranking: 20)
Matthias’ game is coming around, and while he hasn’t shown up on the score sheet with any regularity, his performance so far leads me to believe he’ll be a key player for the Leafs this season. That’s probably on par with being the employee of the month on the Titanic.
13. Stephane Robidas (Last Ranking: NR)
I have no idea what convinced Stephane Robidas to go on injured reserve, but I’m glad he did. If this is what the Lou Lamorello era is all about, than I am completely on board with his hiring.
14. Peter Holland (Last Ranking: 14)
He’s looking better than last season and it looks like he’ll be getting some decent opportunities to show where exactly he belongs in the lineup.
15. Frank Corrado (Last Ranking: NR)
Corrado hasn’t played a game for the Leafs yet so he’s ranked 15th largely because he hasn’t disappointed us yet. Also claiming Corrado upset Canucks fans and that’s worthwhile value in my opinion as well.
16. Jonathan Bernier (Last Ranking: 6)
Bernier’s son about to drop the most fire album of 2015.
17. James Reimer (Last Ranking: 11)
After spending all of last season complaining about how the Leafs hung Bernier and Reimer out to dry, it seems like both goaltenders are committed to being just as prone to poor play as the rest of the lineups. This weekend seemed to show some improvement with both goaltenders, but it looks like goaltending is not a position of strength for Toronto at the moment.
— April Reimer (@april_reimer) October 14, 2015
18. Tyler Bozak (Last Ranking: NR)
Honestly, he hasn’t been that bad. No longer being utilized as the all purpose go to center agrees with him (somewhat). Sheltering him agrees with him, but his 109.1 PDO says this bubble is still gonna burst.
19. Mark Arcobello (Last Ranking: 12)
If I don’t include him on this list Cat will beat me up.
20. Brad Boyes (Last Ranking: 13)
He’s the only player with 2 points or more that hasn’t been mentioned yet. So here he is. He probably could be higher on this list, but that’s only because the Leafs forward group is completely interchangeable.