In general, most hockey fans are idiots. Leafs fans, especially. This isn’t much of a surprise to anyone, but letting fandom get in the way of how you run a hockey team is never really a good call.
As the title suggests, we decided to rehash an old idea:
and let a culmination of CapFriendly armchair GMs take control.
The projected roster:
*Extremely Talking Heads voice…*
But wait? How did I get here?
(You can find the list of trades and signings here.)
Nylander for Tanev finally happens!
Zaitsev, Kapanen, Borgman, and two picks are on the outs for Big Buff.
The same return as another Leafs’ d-man.
The Night that Connor Murphy got traded is a night I’ll never forget. Some of the b’ys got loaded drunk and they ain’t been sober yet.
Liljegren, Timashov, Carrick, Nielsen, Gauthier, a 1st, and a 3rd, for Shea Weber. Hrm, I’d take Subban first…
Why not? I guess.
I actually started this when Martin was still on the roster, but this is basically what they got for him anyway.
The Leafs gain a second and a player who was on waivers for Zach Hyman. So a second for Zach Hyman.
LAWSON CROUSE for a fifth and two Marlies prospects. Probably not but. Dream big.
Toronto acquires the best Red Wings defenceman.
There was another trade that sent out McElhinney, but, like. Are you really worried about that?
Strengths and weaknesses
If we break down the roster, the Leafs probably come out on top on defence, although it’s hardly without a price. While getting rid of Ron Hainsey and Nikita Zaitsev probably improve the team, we don’t see the impact of Jake Gardiner leaving in a directly positive way because he was moved out for draft picks.
The biggest decline would be on the wings, adding five new wingers who have yet to play a full season in the NHL. J.T. Brown seems like a standup fellow and not the worst crash-and-bang option in the league, but also put up just 7 points in 47 games across two teams last season.
Centre depth is the least unchanged, although someone’s bright idea involved bringing in Pavel Datsyuk on a one-year deal. Whatever makes Wings fans most irrationally upset, I guess.
So how good is this team actually?
I employed a very unadvanced stats of asking smarter people who project models what they think of the team.
Dom Luszczyszyn of the Athletic used his model to give the Toronto Armchair Leafs a 98-point projection. While we’ll get an answer in the next few weeks as to what the actual Leafs look like next year in his season previews, I’d suggest the Leafs likely come out slightly higher than that.
Meanwhile, for a projection of the Leafs’ actual roster… Manny Perry of Corsica.Hockey projects the Leafs at about… 98 points.
NHL regular season team points projections for 2018-2019 (result of 10,000 simulations): pic.twitter.com/IgjUaa3nB8
— Emmanuel Perry (@manny_hockey) August 22, 2018
It should be noted that Perry and Dom feel differently about the JVR/Bozak subbed in for Tavares move.
People don't seem to like the idea of Toronto finishing outside the top-5. The addition of Tavares is massive, obviously. However, the loss of Van Riemsdyk (my 49th-ranked forward) could hurt more than people expect.
— Emmanuel Perry (@manny_hockey) August 23, 2018
Meanwhile Dom wrote this for the Athletic, although we haven’t yet see what that point projection looks like just yet with the Leafs’ full roster.
Toronto’s point projection for next season saw the second highest jump in the league despite technically losing more value than it gained. There’s no denying the Leafs are a much better team after adding Tavares despite who they lost. Quality over quantity.
Should the Leafs do this?
No. Without taking into account contracts, the roster does okay over the next year, and would likely still be a playoff roster. They’ve improved their defense somewhat, and somehow managed to convince Pavel Datsyuk to enter their fourth line, but sewering what is a genuine strength at wing doesn’t seem to make a ton of sense. Eight more years of Shea Weber? Four more years of Connor Murphy? Seven million in cap space for… some reason?
Plus, William Nylander is gone! If there’s a moral to this story, it’s that you might as well appreciate your strengths where you have them. If the Leafs look to drastically improve their D just to do it, it probably would come at the cost of hindering their offence. I couldn’t think of a worse way to “optimize” the roster, but it did provide us with an article in August.