It’s been an interesting week, and we can celebrate the fact that the Leafs are unbeatable in regulation over the past 5 games. Or if you want to be sour about it, they could have a three point cushion on the Blue Jackets in the race for Matthews if they could lose faster.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank those of you read my posts and wish you all a happy holidays. Knowing that people read my writing and whether they agree with it or not, find it funny or not has also been therapeutic for me, and it seems like a good time to say “Thanks!”. All the best (aka Stamkos and Matthews) in 2016!
Now Power Rankings.
1. Jonathan Bernier (Last Ranking: 7)
You know who needed a good week and a big win? Jonathan Bernier.
And as much fun as it is to cheer for guys like Reimer and Sparks climbing the depth chart, it’s even more fun to have three goaltenders playing well. Bernier’s always been a decent goaltender, maybe not a great goaltender, but one that you shouldn’t feel bad about having under contract for around $4M. With the organization’s history of jerking around James Reimer it’s likely he was strongly considering free agency, so an improving Bernier may be essential for not having a bad time in the 2016-17 season. I hope he continues to work things out.
2. Leo Komarov (Last Ranking: 4)
A five point week, and a career best game for Uncle Leo earn him his highest ranking of the season. The fact that he leads the Leafs in goals (13) and points (21) means he probably should have been here sooner.
It’s kind of funny. I’m torn whether we should praise Dave Nonis for landing Komarov on a multi-year deal for just under $3M per, or whether we should laugh at him for it because he thought he was signing a bottom six forward to that and had a coach who used him in that manner.
Anyone who has been paying attention to Detroit over the past few years had to know that Komarov was going to mesh well with Babcock, though I’ll still admit to being shocked it’s worked out this well.
I’ll give you some fodder for the comment section. If the Leafs can get a first for Komarov should they make that trade, or is he now too valuable to be moved?
3. Michael Grabner (Last Ranking: 8)
There was no shortage of Grabner fanboying around The Leafs Nation when the Leafs brought Michael in prior to the season. Thankfully I managed to look restrained compared to Jeff, but there was little doubt I was excited and shortly a ton of evidence that I needed to pump my brakes a little.
This week I can go back into full Grabner appreciation mode as he’s coming off a four point night, seems to have found a home on the line with Kadri and Komarov, and now you will all learn to love this Austrian.
4. Morgan Rielly (Last Ranking: 5)
It’s time to include Morgan Rielly before I’m overcome with the guilt of not having my favourite Leaf in the top five. He picked up a goal and an assist this week, continues to eat minutes, and lug around Matt Hunwick, which was an easier task this week since Hunwick didn’t look too bad either.
With most of the other reasons to be excited for the Leafs future shipping off to Helsinki for a couple of weeks, it’s important to celebrate the reason for hope that’s stayed behind.
Mo’ Rielly, No Problems pic.twitter.com/GtpcUMbnGo
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) December 16, 2015
5. Nazem Kadri (Last Ranking: 3)
Nazem Kadri is still playing incredibly well. It’s not a coincidence that Komarov is having a career year and not a coincidence that Grabner’s offensive game returned this week. The fact of the matter is that Nazem Kadri is a very talented center, who does a lot of heavy lifting on a not so good team.
6. James van Riemsdyk (Last Ranking: 6)
I’m starting to think that van Riemsdyk is Dutch for consistent. It’s not really surprising that the Leafs most offensively gifted player is one of the better players at regularly putting up points, but his reliability is the reason he’s sticking at six this week.
7. Peter Holland (Last Ranking: 9)
Why go too far from the Dutch theme? Holland comes in at number seven this week because he’s gone from Babcock’s dog house to being the one of the most versatile forwards on the Leafs. Need a top line winger, no problem. Need a third line center? Sure. Holland’s had some level of success no matter where he’s played and we’ll eventually reach a point where it’s time to decide if a young, cheap, versatile forward is more valuable to the Leafs future or whether he’s more valuable as a trade chip?
Peter Holland puts the Leafs within one with his fifth of the season pic.twitter.com/p1puPfev6b
— The Leafs Nation (@TLNdc) December 18, 2015
8. Byron Froese (Last Ranking: NR)
The Player Power Rankings have a proud history of honouring all of Froese’s feel good moments so far, so now that he has a goal in the NHL let’s do that again.
While that goal is the reason Froese is at #8, it’s worth noting that he’s certainly been improving, and taking advantage of his time with the Leafs to figure out his pro game. Byron Froese as the dirt cheap fourth liner is something I can accept a few more years of.
9. Martin Marincin (Last Ranking: 12)
Sure he only played one game, but it was one of his best of the season. While I admit to being part of the people crying for Corrado to play, there’s been the small matter of Marincin being solid in recent outings and being deserving of playing as well.
Defensive health is something most teams beg for, but with a number of young Leafs defensemen coming up, it wouldn’t be the end of the world to see veterans like Phaneuf, Polak, and Hunwick get a few more “maintenance nights.”
10. Frank Corrado (Last Ranking: NR)
Making his Leafs debut, and picking up his first point as a Leaf gets Corrado a Byron Froese-esque “feel good.”
Now that we’ve seen Corrado play, we can acknowledge he’s pretty decent and probably needs to be rotated into the lineup more often. We can also acknowledge he’s far from perfect and the occasional scratch is fine too. This whole situation would be more understandable if many of us didn’t have the desire to never see Roman Polak in a Leafs uniform again.
11. Matt Hunwick (Last Ranking: 19)
One point heading into Saturday, and then a two point game against the Kings. It looks like Hunwick has connected the dots on what the expectation is of top pairing defensemen.*
*it’s not his fault he’s in the top pairing and he’s not terrible.
12. Daniel Winnik (Last Ranking: 13)
Slowly but surely we’re getting closer to the Winnik we saw last year. It’s probably not surprising that he’s standing out more now that Spaling is out of the lineup.
13. Tyler Bozak (Last Ranking: 16)
Admittedly Tyler Bozak should be a lot higher in the rankings, but I just remembered he existed, so he slots in here. It’s much more difficult to criticize Bozak’s game now that he’s playing for a coach who seems to understand his limitations.
Picking up a his 100th goal and 250th point are things that I’m sure were nice for him, but they also serve as a reminder that he’s been around this organization way too long.
14. P.A. Parenteau (Last Ranking: 11)
More Parenteau points. I’m gonna miss him in March.
15. Shawn Matthias (Last Ranking: 14)
When hastily putting together power rankings, one of the easiest things to do is base it on points. Well, Shawn doesn’t get a lot of those, but generally plays hockey pretty well. He was tested out on Kadri’s line, but failed to land the gig full time, but honestly he’s probably more useful supporting another line as a puck retriever/guy who isn’t terrible defensively.
16. Jake Gardiner (Last Ranking: 17)
I don’t want to give the impression that I’m falling out of love with Gardiner, because he’s still very good. He’s got the tough gig of being a rush defenseman while being paired with someone who struggles defensively at times and lacks speed to make up for his short comings. That being said, Gardiner’s not a guy you want to see pinned down in his own zone or defending an odd man rush and it seems that the Phaneuf/Gardiner pairing has been getting into more trouble lately.
17. Brad Boyes (Last Ranking: 15)
Please keep Brad Boyes in the lineup. His points are nice. If he sits for Rich Clune this week I’ll be sad.
18. Dion Phaneuf (Last Ranking: 20)
Sure, why not put Dion here.
19. Roman Polak (Last Ranking: NR)
He had that one assist that was pretty nice.
20. Joffrey Lupul (Last Ranking: NR)
Joffrey Lupul is healthy. Bye.