TLN Player Power Rankings: January 24th Edition

It’s Power Rankings Time! It’s time to look back on the week that was, see the Leafs put up a 1-1-1 record, and basically assess everyone based on their trade value except for the legitimate praise directed at Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner. It’s good to have traditions. This one is mine.

1. James Reimer (Last Week: 4)

In the previous rankings James had a tough week by his standards, falling to 4th on the list of Leafs. This week with the Leafs new theme of allowing their goaltender to be peppered with shots for the first period, and James ability to still be a league leader in save percentage, means he’s back at number one. 

It would be nice to see this and say, “WOW! There’s the goaltender we can build around” but instead with Reimer’s $4.5-5.5M AAV over 7 year contract demands, it looks like we’ve just got trade value to be excited about. 

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2. Morgan Rielly (Last Week: 1)

The favourite topic lately on Leafs twitter seems to be debating whether Morgan Rielly will ever be as good as Jake Gardiner. Despite the fact that the stats clearly support Jake Gardiner being better at the moment, I will stubbornly dig in my heals to the fact that Rielly is already better, but with the caveat of not caring that much because I’m perfectly happy to have two good defensemen. In fact, I’d like it if the Leafs had six good defensemen.

I may be too much of a Rielly fanboy from my days of watching him when he played on Moose Jaw, or I might cut him too much slack for playing on the right side as a left handed shot, while having Matt Hunwick as his partner. I might look at his situational usage and believe that numbers support he’s a difficult situation on a bad team.

I guess I just really like Morgan Rielly, and he had a pretty great Saturday night to help my cause. Also helping my cause is this article by Andrew Berkshire.

3. Joffrey Lupul (Last Week: NR)

Joffrey Lupul is still healthy. Also, in a week where Mike Babcock was actively calling out the lack of goal scoring talent on the Leafs, Joffrey actually snapped out his slump and scored two goals. 

I in no way expect to be singing his praises again new week, but kudos to him for the points, and also this sick burn…

4. Nazem Kadri (Last Week: 5)

Nazem Kadri is still something that should bring Leafs fans much joy. We touch on this every week because every week he’s still having to answer for crappy production in October. Of the people on the Leafs you’d expect to score goals, he’s the only one who did this week, and don’t forget he plays a pretty big role in keeping the oppositions point totals down too. 

5. Leo Komarov (Last Week: 6)

Mike Babcock reminded us this week that Komarov doesn’t need to put up points to be useful, he still picked up an assist, but hey, if he’s gonna be the team leading scorer that kind of production will get criticized. 

The fact that Komarov is a bit more like what we expected Komarov to be shouldn’t be disappointed, but it certainly doesn’t work with my stance of trade him for untold riches.

6. Matt Hunwick (Last Week: 18)

Yeah, we’re at #6 on the list and we’ve already had Hunwick and Lupul, that’s probably a sign that it was a weird week for the Leafs. Hunwick picked up his first goal as a Leaf, so that’s certainly nice for him and a reason not to jab at him too hard here. There’s also the fact that Hunwick was playing around 24 minutes a night and the world didn’t end. This is largely attributed to the players who are #1 and #2 on this list, but Hunwick was a solid passenger this week.

7. Roman Polak (Last Week: 14)

Let’s get Polak out of the way too while we’re at it. Polak’s finally gotten the monkey off his back and we all expect him to turn into the offensive defenseman we all believe he can be. Like Hunwick, Polak played the kind of minutes that would make you question your coaches decision making if your coach wasn’t Mike Babcock. It seemed to be work this week, we’ll see what next week holds. Hopefully a Polak trade.

8. Brad Boyes (Last Week: 7)

Boyes played his 800th game (and was immediately scratched for the next one). The first part of that thought is nice enough to get Boyes in at 8 on this list because it’s becoming increasing hard to find nice things to say about the Leafs players this week.

Also, he played on a beer league team named the Skidmarks, so Brad Boyes is amazing.

9. Peter Holland (Last Week: 8)

I remain an unapologetic fan of Peter Holland, and the solid depth center managed to pick up a couple of assists despite not seeing too much in the way of ice time, which is especially bizarre with the amount of extra time the Leafs played this week. Some of this usage makes me wonder if Holland is in the long term plans for the Leafs or if he’ll be an extremely marketable $775k RFA center at the deadline.

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10. Jake Gardiner (Last Week: 13)

Jake Gardiner is an extremely talented player, but January hasn’t been his best month. He’s had a significant cut in ice time this week, and was essentially utilized as the fifth defenseman and only Martin Marincin saw less icetime than Jake on the blueline. 

It’s like he needs a bit of a shakeup, which is odd because Morgan Rielly could use a new partner. The fact that Jake has been good for Phaneuf is the biggest barrier to that happening, but a bit of time off at the All-Star break might be what Gardiner needs to come back and have a strong finish to the year.

11. Daniel Winnik (Last Week: 17)

Just look at those dogs


12. P.A. Parenteau (Last Week: 11)

Only picking up an assist this week isn’t what you’d hope for five weeks away from the trade deadline. Parenteau is as close to a blue chip the Leafs will have at the deadline and he needs to spend the next month walking the fine line of continued production without getting hurt.

13. Shawn Matthias (Last Week: 2)

Matthias dropped from around the top of the power rankings to his usual spot, I guess that’s what happens when the offense isn’t there to go with “all the little things.”

Matthias doing the little things right should probably be valued higher than where I put him this week, since when you’re not scoring, the guys who are good at suppressing points usually should be getting some credit.

14. Dion Phaneuf (Last Week: 9)

While not as drastic as what we saw with Gardiner, Phaneuf had two games this week were he played just under 20 minutes, which is pretty much unheard of for him. In reality, that ice time sounds just about right to me, but when it means we’re getting more Roman Polak, I’d rather see Dion get his $h!t together instead.

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15. Tyler Bozak (Last Week: 10)

It took until the second last week in January for Phil Kessel to pass Tyler Bozak in the points race this season. Bozak still has five games at hand on Kessel. 

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16. Martin Marincin (Last Week: 20)

Ugh. These last few entries will just be painful. I can’t think of too many memorable moments for the bottom of the Leafs group this week. By default Marincin goes first because this was a strong defensive week for the Leafs, except for, you know, that whole getting insanely outshot to start every game thing.

17. Byron Froese (Last Week: 19)

We touched on this last week, but it’s hard to be upset with anything Froese does because there really aren’t any expectations of him. He could begin seeing less playing time with Nick Spaling returning soon, but is still probably third in line for being returned to the Marlies.

18. Josh Leivo (Last Week: 16)

I’ll give Leivo credit for looking like he’s trying hard out there. I’ll also give him the benefit of the doubt that it’s hard to sell yourself as an offensive talent when you’re playing with Rich Clune and Byron Froese. 

That being said, Leivo isn’t selling me on the fact that he’ll be the player in the NHL that he is in the AHL. It’s easy to compare him to Carter Ashton, so I will. 

19. Rich Clune (Last Week: 3)

Not punching Zac Rinaldo this week really hurt him in the rankings.

20. Michael Grabner (Last Week: 15)

When I have to look through score sheets and past rankings to figure out who I left off, it’s probably good sign that you haven’t been playing standout hockey. We’ve seen what Grabner can be like when things are going well, but I’ve given up hope that it can ever be a regular thing.