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Topics - mr grieves

Leafs Rumours & Speculation / All that cap space
May 28, 2018, 05:50:03 PM
The Leafs have a ton of it this year -- probably about $15m after signing the RFAs -- but not so much after that. As for things to spend this short-term cap space on, some have speculated on a massive one-year Tavares deal (unlikely given fears of freak injuries) or a big contract for Thorton (more likely). The number of possibilities for signings seems pretty constrained by the need to re-sign Matthews, Marner, and Kapanen next season.

One idea floating around in Ian Tulloch's recent Athletic articles is interesting: taking on bad contracts to make it easier for contenders to keep their cores together (WSH wants to re-sign Carolson, but has Orpik, WPG has contracts up but Kulikov taking up space) or to help other teams clear space for runs at Tavares (PHI's got a contract or two making it hard to mount a serious offer).

Such deals are typically associated with rebuilding/building teams (Arizona, Vegas, Carolina) rather than those windows are opening, but I wonder if the new, more forward looking Leafs management might look at this as an option to acquire some young, cost-controlled talent. Tulloch suggested the Philly scenario as a way to get Gudas, filling the top-4 RHD need, but he also identifies Roslovic and Petan from WPG as possibilities. Seems to me an interesting speculative exercise that explores a scenario that's more possible now that Dubas has replaced Lou.   
Marlies & Prospect Talk / Looking down the pipeline
October 18, 2017, 08:14:43 PM
Looking ahead a few years, I see the Leafs current roster as including a core of players under contract for the next 3+ years or are almost certain to be signed long term, guys who'll definitely be gone, players that are replaceable and likely won't be here after their current contract is up.

Hyman - Matthews - Nylander
Marleau - Kadri - Brown
JvR - Bozak - Marner
Martin - Moore - Komarov

Gardiner - Zaitsev
Rielly - Hainsey
Borgman - Carrick

The last two groups -- those on the way out or who are replaceable -- will need to be, uh, replaced... and with cost-controlled players, which means looking at internal options.

Now... to see what's in the pipeline, I've broken things down a bit, into roles. Order of Options is who's on the roster, whose development is furthest along...

Secondary Scoring
Replace eventually: Marleau, Brown
Options/Prospects: Leivo, Kapanen, Johnsson, Bracco, Rychel? Trevor Moore? Timashov?

Top-9 Centers
OUT: Bozak
Replace eventually: Kadri
Options/Prospects: Aaltonen, Brooks

OUT: Komarov
Replace eventually: Martin, Hyman
Options/Prospects: Soshnikov, Grundstrom, Korshkov

Top-4 Defensemen
OUT: None
Replace eventually: Gardiner, Hainsey
Options/Prospects: Carrick, Borgman, Rosen, Liljegren, Dermott, Nielsen? Rasanen? JD Greenway?

My thoughts... two holes in the top-4 is a lot to deal with so hope they find a way to keep Gardiner, they looking thin at center...
Main Leafs Hockey Talk / What to do with JVR
October 13, 2017, 09:57:37 AM
So... that deadline, a draft, and a free agency season have come and gone, still no trade.

Recently asked the chances JvR finishes the season with the Leafs, Mirtle offered: "I'm going to go out on a relatively thick limb here and say 95-per-cent chance... you don't dump a 30-goal guy who's been a key piece of a dangerous power play for years for futures in the middle of a season where you feel you have a chance to do something. If that means he walks for nothing in the summer, he walks."

This seems, to me, dumb, especially since he's floating the idea that they'll trade Leivo for the 4th or just let him sit out the season and leave this summer as a UFA.

Consider, even selling "low" on JvR, the possible outcomes:

1. Trade JvR, let Leivo fill in = 2nd round pick (JvR) + Leivo = 40% chance of NHLer + 1 NHLer = 1.40 NHLers.

2. Let JvR play contract out & walk, trade Leivo for 4th = nothing + 15% chance of NHLer = 0.15 NHLers

3. Let JvR play contract out & walk, let Leivo become Group 6 UFA (doesn't play 39 games) = nothing + nothing = 0.00 NHLers

So... given what we've seen this year, and before Lou does anything crazy, where do y'all think this rebuild is at?

Last summer, after the lottery, I offered what was then a wildly optimistic projection, not only because I dreamed of them signing Stamkos and using JvR to sort out the defense in the off season. For 2016-17, I imagined solid systems, good rookies, bounce-back years for unperforming vets, and average goaltending would get them to 85-90 points, then a wildcard spot next year, and finally contending the year after that.

During the season, as the rookies exceeded expectations, I pointed to some ways in which the team very closely echoed the 2007-8 Blackhawks. Our #1C looked at least as good as Toews, our 1W just as good as Kane (he then faded), our 2C as good as Sharp, and our fourth forward better than either Ladd or Byfugilen, etc. Others pointed out some pretty clear differences (neither Rielly nor Gardiner is Keith or even Seabrook, but then neither was Keith or Seabrook, as we think of them today, in 2007-8...).

But the 2016-17 Leafs blew by my optimistic prediction, even though they didn't make either of the big moves I'd hoped for (get Stamkos and another top 4 defenseman), and, even if individual contributions aren't perfectly equivalent, they accomplished something even the Hawks didn't manage their first season after drafting Toews and Kane. They made the playoffs. And took the best team in the league to 6 games in a pretty evenly played series.

That's a high water mark without precedent, surely.

Not quite. Of all the teams who've bottomed out since the Hawks — the Islanders, the Lightning, the Oilers, the Panthers, Buffalo, Edmonton yet again — only one's made the playoffs the season after drafting a franchise center or defenseman 1OA (give or take a spot): the 2013-14 Avalanche, who had an astonishing 45 point* improvement from 2012-13 to 2014-15 (the Leafs managed an almost(?)-franchise-record improvement of 26 points).

Now, that Colorado team was one that a lot of smart folks thought was poised to become perennial contender, though they had some serious reservations about Roy and the team's system.

They, of course, fell apart... and hit a new low this season.

So, where do you think we are, measured against either the post-lockout contenders (Chicago, LA, Boston) or the teams who scraped the bottom of the standings and acquired top-end talent we all agree you need to build a contender (the aforementioned NYI, TBL, EDM, FLA, and BUF)?
Main Leafs Hockey Talk / #TheLeafsAreActuallyGood...?
November 03, 2016, 11:04:30 AM
Yes, I think, they are.

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<GAMES 1-10>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Current On PaceProj.vs. 2015-16
SF 343 (1st) 2,813 (1st) n/a 2,517 (6th)
SCF 93 (2nd)  763 (1st)n/a 498 (19th)
Sh%8.5% (20) 8.5% (24)8.8% (15) 7.6% (30)
GF29 (10th) 238 (4th)248 (3rd)198 (28th)
SA318 (25th)2,608 (28)n/a2,501 (21)
SCA78 (24th)640 (29)n/a504 (13)
Sv%.887 (26).887 (30).908 (15).904 (23rd)
GA........37 (28th)......287 (30)....... 240 (24)......246 (24th)......

Messed up the table, so one line is missing. Goal differential:
Current: -8 (25th) => Pace: -49 (29th) => Proj: +8 (16th) => 15/16: -49 (29th)

Pace assumes the percentages (shooting, saving) don't change while Projected assumes they settle at league average (15th ranked team last year). SCF and SCA are 5v5, but otherwise the stats are 'all situations.'

Think I might do this every ten games or so to see how the team's coming along.

UPDATED: to include games 11-20 in the pace & projections...

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<GAMES 1-20>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

..................Current...............Pace...................Projected............vs. 2015-16........
SF679 (4th)2,651 (1st)n/a2,517 (6th)
5v5 SCF183 (1st)715 (1st)n/a498 (19th)
Sh%9.7% (7th)9.7% (6th)8.8% (avg)7.6% (30th)
GF66 (T-3rd)258 (2nd)233 (7th)191 (28th)
SA698 (29th)2,726 (30th)n/a2,501 (21st)
5v5 SCA165 (29th)644 (29th)n/a504 (13th)
Sv%.904 (22nd).904 (23rd).908 (avg).904 (23rd)
GA66 (27th)262 (30th)251 (29th)240 (24th)
DIFF.-1 (14th)-4 (17th)-17 (20th)-49 (29th)
Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Too soon?
May 14, 2016, 03:41:49 PM
Missed the 4-1 anniversary by a day or so.

But some worthwhile links...

Poulin on TSN: http://www.tsn.ca/radio/toronto-1050/poulin-leafs-collapse-in-boston-changed-lives-1.488994







And Steve Dangle, from an alternate universe:

I was going to wait till the half-way mark or try to get this out at the quarter pole. And now (mired in slump, about to his a really rough stretch) mightn't be the most time to evaluate fairly, but I thought I'd try this anyway...

Pleasant surprises
1. Bolland looking like the versatile center he was advertised as. I thought we'd have a cheaper Grabo replacement, but, in that role, he's been better than Grabo.
2. Raymond looking good on the contract was predictable (those late off-season signings tend to look best), but how good he's been at points has been a pleasant surprise.
3. Morgan Rielly's play.

Unpleasant surprises
1. The team's more skilled, puck moving defense leaving them worse at breakouts than last season. On paper, i thought this was the off-season improvement.
2. The PK dropping off despite having most of the same personnel as last season.
3. Bozak's having trouble in the faceoff circle.
4. Kessel's last month -- he doesn't look disappeared to me so much as nursing an injury
5. The invisibility of Clarkson's intangibles -- at the very least, I thought he'd jump start the team
6. Randy getting his team and apparently not knowing how to get much decent hockey out of it

Predictably Not Good
1. Regression, mostly. That the Leafs would be shooting nearer the high end of the league average
3. Loss of speed resulting from losing Grabo, MacArthur, and Komarov. Though I'm not sure if this has as much to do with the unpleasant surprise of the defensemen as it does the personnel change up front
4. Getting boned by the lack of center depth and not having a fourth line that can iced for more than 5 minutes a game
5. Kadri dropping off a bit.

Predictably Good (or Fine)
1. Bernier improving the goaltending tandem somewhat, helping steal several games
2. That Clarkson wouldn't be much more than a serviceable third liner in his actual play
Here's something I found concerning last season. It's basically the "regression to the mean" problem, but put a slightly different way. I hope I'm not just howling UNSUSTAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIINABLE!! and predicting doom here.

First, the problem:

In 2013, the Leafs gave up 1,441 shots (27th in the league), allowing 128 goals (17th), giving them a .917 save percentage (7th). I buy the more shots, lower quality theory as being a sustainable form of defense. But I think it means you're not playing a very good offensive game though.

In 2013, the Leafs scored 145 goals, and that was good for 6th in the league. Remarkably, they did it on only 1264 shots (28th), which gave them that 11.5 SH% (1st overall, obviously).

Now, if that last stat falls from the to the very-good-but-not-six-or-so-times-in-a-decade-amazing 9.5 SH% (or top third of league), you'd be going from a 248 GF and +29 season to a 205 GF and -13 in an 82-game season. That doesn't make the playoffs. To get back to, say, +10 you'd need to give up 23 fewer goals, or go from giving up 223 goals in 82 games to 200 GA. And if they're giving up shots at the same rate, that'd call for a .926 S%. 

While 11.5 SH% was highly unlikely (something like 6 teams have done in the last decade excluding the post-lockout PP-mania), even fewer teams -- most of them the Boston Bruins -- have posted a S% like that since the last lockout.

So, the problem, in shot:

I can't see the team's defense getting much better than it was (7th in the league is good), and I can't see them repeating the SH% they had. They need to get more shots on goal. Randy Carlyle, in fact, has said the team needs to have the puck more often and get it on the opponent's goal more often for the team to be successful next season.

The solution, then, is pretty simple:

Get more shots on goal so the SH% can be something more repeatable.

The questions that follow:

1. What moves has the team made this off-season that make you think they'll be better at getting the puck out of their zone and into the opponent's in a way that threatens a GA them?

2. What moves would you like them to make that they haven't yet that would make this even more likely than you think it now is?