You’d think that a 1-4-2 start would be just what the doctor ordered for a team in desperate need of another lottery pick, but unfortunately even when the Leafs are awful they can’t crack the bottom five of the league. Anaheim and Calgary are showing us the impact that Nonis and Burke can have on your team, while Columbus has decided they never want to win another hockey game and hired John Tortorella to call their star player fat.
It should be an interesting week with Phil Kessel returning to Toronto for the first time, and now that Kessel is playing with Malkin, a hat trick in his return doesn’t seem out of the question. For now we’ll focus on the week that was, before we forget the magic that was 0-1-1 hockey.
1. Byron Froese (Last Week: Not Ranked)
So the Leafs stunk something fierce again this week, so that means by default the happiest stories get to rise to the top of the rankings. Froese’s call up and NHL debut certainly qualifies as nice story especially considering he was in the ECHL last season and was without an NHL contract.
Throw in the fact that Froese should’ve had a penalty shot in this game as well, it was pretty much the one positive you can take away from getting thumped by the Habs. We’ll ignore the fact he was a minus three in his debut.
2. Scott Harrington (Last Week: 11)
If making his NHL debut got Froese the number one spot, it stands to good reason that Harrington’s first NHL point deserves some recognition too. The fact that he accomplished that despite drawing the short straw and being stuck with Roman Polak as a defense partner makes it even more impressive.
3. Morgan Rielly (Last Week: 6)
Rielly picked up his first goal of the season, which compared to our feel good stories at 1 and 2 isn’t as significant, but it’s a promising sign of offense to come. Rielly was one of the few players who put forth a strong effort in the game against Montreal and it’s nice to see him rewarded.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) October 25, 2015
4. Leo Komarov (Last Week: 2)
It’s probably time to start considering Uncle Leo “Mr. October.” He had a strong start last year and this year he’s tied for the team lead in points with 4 goals and 1 assist. If this continues much longer I certainly hope someone in the Leafs front office will develop a “sell high” mantra.
5. Dion Phaneuf (Last Week: 5)
I guess if Leo got the four spot for leading the Leafs in scoring, the guy he’s tied with should be right behind him. While Dion doesn’t have a goal yet this season, he does have five assists, and with Jake Gardiner out the lineup, the only worthwhile point shot on the power play.
It seemed like a pipe dream to think that Mike Babcock could turn Phaneuf around, but seven games in and we’re definitely seeing significant improvements.
Evander Kane sees Dion Phaneuf coming for him and sticks him right in the face pic.twitter.com/rTrXTNxAot
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) October 22, 2015
6. James van Riemsdyk (Last Week: 9)
In the Leafs mediocre scoring race, van Riemsdyk is just one goal behind Komarov for the goals and points lead. A betting man would probably tell you that JVR will be the Leafs point leader by the end of the week, if not by the end of tonight.
7. P.A. Parenteau (Last Week: NR)
Here we are at #7 on our list and we’ve already covered off all the players who had a goal for the Leafs this week (including 3 players who didn’t have a goal). Probably a sign that offense is going to be a bit of a challenge for the Leafs.
Parenteau picked up the lone goal against the Sabres this week and saved the Leafs from the embarrassment of not being able to solve Chad Johnson.
8. Daniel Winnik (Last Week: 4)
Winnik has been less than fortunate with his linemates this week, as he’s be dealing with the uphill battle of trying to put up points while having Nick Spaling as his center. His 5 shots against the Habs remind us that he is still the Leafs patron saint of corsi, and right now he’s putting in his time to make sure the Leafs can role almost three passable NHL lines.
9. Nazem Kadri (Last Week: 8)
Kadri playing around 21 minutes a night while his linemates van Riemsdyk and Komarov put up points is encouraging. While Kadri was kept off the score sheet he’s getting chances, and demonstrating that his game is has evolved since last season. At some point his numbers are bound to improve since his 3.1% shooting percentage is a good ways off his career 12% average.
10. Matt Hunwick (Last Week: 3)
If Daniel Winnik is the Patron Saint of Corsi, I’d assume that Hunwick has at least received beatification from the church of analytics. Matt played over 27 minutes against Buffalo and is averaging over 22 and half minutes a night on the season so far. It’s amazing, because Hunwick has been eating minutes like this throughout his career, and doing a good job of it but hasn’t really received much recognition for it until landing in Toronto. More and more I’m seeing that Hunwick might have been the smartest pickup the Leafs made in the off season and he might be the veteran presence on the blueline the Leafs want to commit to beyond his contract.
11. Nick Spaling (Last Week: 10)
If you told that less than a month into the season that Nick Spaling would essentially be the Leafs number 2 center I probably would be have run into the woods crying. Well, I’ve recently come out the woods, wiped away my tears, and realized that while Spaling is far from an ideal option in that role it hasn’t worked out as horribly as I would have thought, largely thanks to Daniel Winnik.
12. Peter Holland (Last Week: 14)
I’m not at the point in the Babcock tenure where I feel comfortable questioning Mike Babcock’s decisions, but one of his blind spots seems to be Peter Holland. Holland has one of the best CF% on the Leafs while having some of the most frequent defensive zone starts on the team. Granted, Holland hasn’t had to go up against the toughest of competition and he’s yet to point up any points, but it seems like there’s some potential for Holland to do more for the Leafs, rather than sit in the press box as a healthy scratch.
Mike Babcock says he expects Peter Holland to go back in the lineup tomorrow.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonasTSN1050) October 25, 2015
13. Brad Boyes (Last Week: 20)
This is probably putting Boyes way too high on the list, but honestly his Jason Allison throwback shootout attempt still has me laughing. He also had an assist this week, which is pretty good by Leafs standards and his twitter account has one of the best profile pics of any athlete’s accounts.
Amazing season @BlueJays. Well done.
— Brad Boyes (@bboyes28) October 24, 2015
14. Jonathan Bernier (Last Week: 16)
The game against Buffalo certainly made a case for Bernier being at the top of the power rankings, unfortunately the game against Montreal almost made him fall off this list completely. Thankfully it’s incredibly hard to find nice things to say about the Leafs, so some kind of goaltender presence is required on this list.
Gonna go out on a limb and say that Bernier probably shouldn’t see any more starts in his hometown.
15. James Reimer (Last Week: 17)
James didn’t play this week, but looked very willing to if called upon. That’s really the point we are at with this list. Everyone from here on out contributed less than Reimer did with his tracking clipboard.
16. Michael Grabner (Last Week: NR)
I was too excited about Grabner when he joined the Leafs. I really thought we’d at least be seeing someone who was buried by the depth of talent filled organization making a case for being a middle six winger on the Leafs. Instead Grabner hasn’t been used much more than he was used by the Islanders. Thanks to Saturday night we can only assume that Grabner has no place to go but up.
17. Frank Corrado (Last Week: 15)
Corrado was sent down to the Marlies for a conditioning stint starting this week. He hasn’t played a game yet for the Leafs, but hopefully this temporary assignment is the first step in getting him into the Leafs lineup on at least a semi-regular basis. Toronto needs someone to end to the Roman Polak era, and the most likely candidate is Frank Corrado.
18. Shawn Matthias (Last Week: 12)
When I looked at the boxscores for the Leafs this week I saw that Shawn Matthias does in fact play for the Maple Leafs. This is likely news to many people who are confused why they haven’t seen him despite being on the ice for around 12 minutes a night.
19. Joffrey Lupul (Last Week: 7)
Lupul’s eight shot night against Montreal certainly earns him some points for trying.
20. Mark Arcobello (Last Week: 19)
He’s included because I fear for my safety as Cat Silverman will hurt me if I put Polak ahead of him.
“You can always tell a Milford Man”