Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Treliving will wait, a look at Woll’s numbers, moving Marlies?: Leaflets
By Jon Steitzer2 months ago
As Toronto sports fans remain hyper-focused on what will happen with the Blue Jays in the next few hours (days? minutes? whatever) we’ll fill your time with a bit of Maple Leafs talk. I have to say the Maple Leafs are probably loving this distraction. It doesn’t matter that the Maple Leafs are running a Max Lajoie-Connor Timmins pairing with Martin Jones in goal behind them as long as the Jays can take the immediate leap to World Series contender and house the best player in baseball for the remainder of his career.
While the Blue Jays have their fate decided for them for the next decade, the Leafs prepare for Game 24 of 82 against the rival Nashville Predators. I can appreciate it if your Toronto sports energy is focused elsewhere today but here are some Leafs thoughts.
Treliving will wait
With a looming holiday roster freeze on the horizon and the Leafs with a significant need for help on the blueline it would make sense that Treliving would be just as anxious as his Blue Jay front office peers to make a deal soon. And while Brad Treliving might make a move, I wouldn’t count on it being a significant one.
One of the interesting things that came out of Treliving’s interview with Justin Bourne and Nick Kypreos this week was his acknowledgment that the Leafs have given up a number of assets in trade in recent years and accompanied that with the comment “how far do you chase it?”
When it comes to chasing it, I interpret that as how much should the Maple Leafs sacrifice their future for the present? Do they continue to trade draft picks or prospects for rental players who haven’t returned or do they continue to push any chips in they can every year in hope that things work out.
I agree to some extent here. The Maple Leafs have not been consistent and played a flawed game so far this year. They are now heading into a stretch without their best goaltender and how the team looks during that period both on the ice and in the standings should determine how invested the Leafs are in the present.
On the other hand, you can make the argument that Brad Treliving inherited what was largely a clean slate from Kyle Dubas and the slow starts of Bertuzzi and Domi to go along with the absolute trainwreck signings of Kampf, Reaves, and Klingberg are him and Treliving should be motivated to right the ship that he set on a course for mediocrity.
Alas, even if the fault lies with Treliving, dealing from a position of weakness to further pursue deadline mercenaries might not be in the Leafs best interest and the team does need to show something on the ice regardless of who is to blame before Treliving should act.
His Flames history supports that Treliving will not do anything too bold too early and when Calgary was sinking last season there was no lifeline coming from the GM’s office.
Compared to what we saw of Joseph Woll last season, this year was a bit of him coming back down to earth. That said, he’s still played far and away better than Ilya Samsonov has with the same team in front of him. If we are to treat NHL goaltenders the same way F1 drivers are treated where all things are generally equal in front of them and there shouldn’t be massive differences unless one is truly better than the other, Woll has proven that he’s the 1A.
Of the 45 goaltenders who have played 10 games or more this season (at end of day December 8th), Joseph Woll sits 8th in the league for goals saved above expected/60 at 0.505. In contrast, Ilya Samsonov is 43rd in the league with -0.554.
When it comes to high danger save percentage, Woll is 10th in the league at .841 while Samsonov is 40th with .769.
And most simply, Woll is 11th in the league with his .916 save percentage while Samsonov is 4th from the bottom at .878 (but trending up thankfully.)
Both these goaltenders are around the same age, both played well behind the Leafs last year and both had the same learning curve to the changes this season and Woll certainly is made it clear that it is his net, when he’s healthy. The biggest concern should be what the Leafs can do without Woll outright stealing games for them or at least keeping them in games. Samsonov has been 4-1-3 and pulled twice resulting in no decisions this year. That record doesn’t look alarmist but that is still 4 wins out of 10 starts and that is why the Leafs will miss Woll.
Steeves needs a chance/Foudy needs development
I would describe myself as someone who has little patience for online trade proposals that would alter the direction of a franchise. They often seem ridiculous. What I do fancy myself is an AHL/bubble player trade proposal aficionado. The Leafs moves for Alex Galchenyuk and Conor Timmins were a couple of my favourite moves during the Dubas (in contrast I don’t want to speak about the Mason Marchment or Alex Barbanov trades) and love little moves that have the chance to make a big impact.
Alex Steeves is a player that would likely be playing a role on a non-playoff team in the NHL. He’s proved himself to be too good for the AHL but finding him a fit on the Leafs is a bit of a challenge especially with Knies and Robertson taking up some prime young forward real estate. In the Dubas era we would have probably already seen Kyle try to find Steeves a home and wonder if Treliving would do something similar.
Playing matchmaker with Edmonton for Phillip Broberg would be ideal. Skating be damned, I can appreciate a good young Swedish defenceman that gets the chance to develop in the Leafs system. He might not be the immediate help they need but he’s intriguing to consider more for the future. And from the Oilers side you can draw a line to their need for bottom six scoring that Steeves could potentially help with. It’s also safe to say that I’m reaching in the situation and while Broberg is just as much a bubble player as Steeves is, that 8th overall draft pick label attached to Broberg carries some weight whether he should have been selected there or not.
That brings me to another player that seems worth considering and that is Liam Foudy. Foudy was a reach by the Columbus Blue Jackets a few years back and he never lived up to his first round pick billing. That label was probably enough to get him the look he received in Nashville, but now they are ready to move on.
While Steeves might be an overpayment for a player that just cleared waivers, Steeves would likely get more of a chance to play for the Predators and in turn the Leafs get the chance to try to develop a once highly regarded prospect to see if there is something there. A Scarborough born player might be motivated by making his hometown Leafs, and even if Steeves is too much to float here, Nick Abruzzese might be more in line.
Neither of these are deals the Leafs have to make. Neither Broberg nor Foudy addresses a pressing need for the Leafs but what they do is give Toronto’s player development team an opportunity to make it less burdensome when GMs trade away first round picks for rental players because they now have a serviceable player in their system to close that gap.
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