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Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Bruins playoff rematch
« on: August 02, 2019, 09:03:46 AM »
Here why I think the Leafs will finally clear this hurdle. This assumes they will meet up again and they go into the playoffs relatively healthy, without missing key pieces.

1. Upgrade on defence. I think overall the Leafs defence will be considerably better. Muzzin will have a full year in the Leafs system, and he was very good last year. Barrie is a huge add, a right shot, an upgrade on Gardiner, actually a huge upgrade on the injured Gardiner of last year. Dermott should also be healthier.

2. Additions of Kerfoot and Spezza. Unlike Naz, who I really liked, Kerfoot should actually play a full playoff round against the Bruins. Spezza's experience and skill alone is a big upgrade on the Goat. Also, I think Spezza is going to work really hard at coming to camp in great shape. He's got to know his kicks at the can are running out and this is a legit opportunity for him to be part of something huge as a hometown kid. I'm sure he's going to want to be in tip top shape for potentially a long playoff run. I think he may not be as slow as people are expecting, even though speed admittedly was never really his greatest asset.

3. Beefing up the fourth line. I think you'll see guys like Marchment and/or Engvall be parts of the 4th line sometime this season. Babs wants size and I think Dubas will concur as these guys also bring some skill with it. They had a couple of years of progression at the AHL level and I think they'll get the opportunity to make the jump this season. Engvall is pretty flexible, so maybe he could play right side, or maybe centre, with Spezza sliding over. I think they continue experimenting with Engvall at centre at the AHL level if he doesn't make the team out of camp. After size and weight of that line: Marchment-Spezza-Engvall would be 6'4" 210 pounds. That would be some substantial leaning on an opposition defence for a 4th line.

4. Maturing of young players. True the Bruins have some young star players as well, Pasternak, McAvoy, Carlo, but I think the Leafs have a lot more of them. Plus big part of Bruins is cruising through their 30s (40s for Chara), Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, Rask, Backus (if they can't unload him). It's got to start taking a toll on them at some point, and I think the long playoff run without a cup had to be wearing.

5. Home ice advantage. They Leafs would have probably had this last year if they'd kept Mac and cut Sparks loose, but I think Neuvirth will be an upgrade there as well.

6. Trade deadline options. If Bracco has another big year at in the AHL (and if he's healthy no reason to suspect he won't), he could be a nice trade chip at the deadline; or they keep him and trade someone else to strengthen the lineup even further.

There are some assumptions here of course, but I really think the Leafs will surpass the Bruins this season on several fronts. In addition, the Bruins are starting to run into cap issues of their own.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Kerfoot, Ceci contracts
« on: July 05, 2019, 12:42:46 PM »
It's clear the Leafs are pretty high on Kerfoot to extend him for four years right off the bat, at slightly more than Kappy and Johnny. Does that mean we should expect him to perform slightly better than those two? If so, I am definitely pleased with the signing. I guess we can only wait and see. How do people feel about the deal?

I think more intriguing is the whole Cody Ceci picture and what people are making of him? While I know he is not an advanced stats darling, he also played on a really bad team, with crappy defensive partners and was expected to shutdown the opposition's top lines with not much help. Perhaps it was a case of him either trying to do too much or just getting overwhelmed by what was asked of him. I can honestly say I have not watched him near enough to form any kind of insightful opinion, so I am prepared to leave the jury out on him until until I can watch him as a Leaf for at least half a season, unless he shows himself to be obviously terrible pretty quick. I doubt that will happen, at least I sure hope not.
I think both sides in his contract settlement are taking a "prove your worth" attitude here, which may be the best way to go. He seems to have the raw tools, so it may just be a question of whether in a new environment they can help him with his decision making and/or if the Leafs system better suits him. I'm prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Though not a d-man, I know Kadri used to make a lot of super bad turnovers with the puck, but under Babcock he really cut down his bad decisions and actually became very crafty with the puck. Who knows what will happen with Ceci, but if the Leafs can mold him into the kind of defencemen people thought he could be when he was first drafted, that would be a real coup. If not, they can choose to cut him loose after the season and reuse that cap space elsewhere. Probably worth the gamble.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Sparks and future leafs back-up goalie
« on: April 03, 2019, 07:13:11 PM »
Well Garrett Sparks has had his first full season as a back-up audition and I think most would concur, it's time he moved on...

I think the experiment could come back to hurt the team in terms of playoff experience. Though I am predicting a Leafs first-round win, if the past trend holds true again, and the game ends up being decided in seven games, with the Bruins winning again on their home ice, I think the table could have (and I would argue should have) been tilted in another direction way back at waiver time. I would have risked losing Sparks to waivers and stuck with the capable back-up, McElhinney (I believe I said that at the time, but not sure? I sure know I felt that way). I suspect had they done that, the Leafs would be ahead of the Bruins in points now, and their somewhat inconsistent season would have been more consistent - which feeds into the overall team confidence. If the ups and downs (Sparks being a genuine factor) leave the team not as confident as they should be leading into the series with Boston, and they lose as outlined above, I think Dubas will have contributed to the accumulative loss of playoff experience for all these young players. That may be a lot to lay on the doorstep of one decision, but I think the whole team getting to the next round this year are odds that should have been taken over  risking the loss of a back-up goalie that has no likelihood of taking over any starting job for the forseeable future with this team, or possibly ever.

Boston, on the other hand, shored up its goaltending with a quality back up in Halak. If Rask goes down for any reason, the Bruins still have a decent chance. If Freddie goes down now, well, get out the golf clubs...

If things don't pan out, and the Leafs get a quick exit, I think Kyle should own up to his mistake and get a proper, experienced back-up for next year.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / JVR
« on: March 19, 2018, 08:30:32 PM »
Nothing like 5 goals in a couple of games to ramp up the talk.

Here's my take on JVR.

If I were the Leafs, I'd offer $6 million for five years, take it or leave it.

Can they afford it? Yes.  For about $32 million, they can lock up all their key forwards including JVR and Nylander, by letting Bozak, Komarov go and trading Martin back to the Island. Throw in another $5 million for bonus for Matthews and Marner. Aaltonen will likely fill one of the left over forward spots in expensively. Matthews missing time helps us with the Nylander contract as it no doubt affects his points total. Highly doubtful Nylander's contract would eclipse Jets Ehlers, though he may match it at $6 million.

The would still leave quite a bit of cash left over, if you budgeted $40-45 million for forwards out of $80 million cap. Another $25-30 million will cover the d-men, and you could still have $10 million left over for goaltending and spare change.

Lupul, Gleason and Cowen all come off the books after this year, so that's about $7 million in savings.

The Leafs can let Hainsey walk after next year and buyout the final year of Marleau's contract if they need to. Resigning Matthews and Marner will got done, you can be sure of that.

It would be nice to keep JVR, but not over pay for him. He's kind of one dimensional - though you can't get much better a dimension that scoring.

If I were the Leafs I would also insist on a limited no trade clause, 10 team kind of thing, just to be on the safe side.

We'll see if he really loves Toronto and takes a hometown discount to be a part of history when it comes. Or if the Leafs mgmt love him enough to make him a decent enough but not outrageous offer to stay. I highly doubt they'd do that. I think $30 million over five years is fair for both sides.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Trade Deadline
« on: January 03, 2018, 02:01:21 PM »
I think it's pretty obvious the Lou and Co. need to step up and make a deal or two to augment-support this team as currently structured.

Once Zaitsev gets back, it would be fantastic is they could somehow secure that elusive top 4 right-handed d-man, ideally to be matched with Rielly. Not complaints about Hainsey, but getting a stronger right handed shot with Rielly would not only strengthen the top pairing but also allow Hainsey to slide in the 3 pairing alongside Borgman. Polak tries hard but lacks mobility. Carrick has mobility but lack the physical strength. Hainsey at least has a bit of both, and is more experienced with the puck than either of them. I think his stability would be an aide to Borgman, less running around.

It will be interesting to see what happens with Bozak, Komo and JVR. If the Leafs want to make a splash on D, something has to give.

Like Freddy the Goat last night. He was solid. If he continues to improve, Moore will be on the outside looking in. I don't mind Moore, but he occasionally takes undisciplined penalties, not what you would expect from a 4th line defensive veteran player.   

I still like the idea of Marner eventually playing centre instead of Nylander (who I like on the wing with Matthews). He's fun to watch and a natural playmaker. With JVR on one wing and either Brown or Kapanen on the right side, I don't think that line would be hurting.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Opening Roster
« on: September 28, 2017, 07:51:15 AM »
Babcock says it will probably take 10 games into the season to figure out the roster but they'll have to start with something.
I've been pleasantly surprised with the two Swedish defencemen, Rosen and Borgman. To me, they shown so far to be the best 6-7 defencemen, though I don't think it makes sense to have one of them in the press box. Going in the hype was around Dermott, but the Swedes have been impressive in their puck movement and hockey sense. If Rielly, Zaitsev and Carrick take a step forward the way Gardiner has, this d-group might be quite a bit better than people have been going on about. What's your take on an opening night roster?

General NHL News & Views / World Junior Summer Showcase
« on: July 30, 2017, 10:48:22 AM »
Started yesterday. A few Leafs in the tournament.

Timothy Lilijegren off to good start, got tying goal in Sweden's 4-3 win over USA squad. Woll started the game for USA and gave up only one goal.

Leafs Finnish prospect Eemeli Rasanen also playing in tournament. Hopefully some games will be televised later in the week?

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Leafs 2017 Entry Draft
« on: June 22, 2017, 10:35:03 PM »
I hoping Timothy Liljegren is still around for Leafs selection, but probably gone. Wouldn't even mind them moving up a few spots, without giving up the farm, for a skilled player over a Luke Schenn type. Otherwise just like them to take best player available.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Finding top four d-man
« on: March 25, 2017, 02:23:30 PM »
How good a d-man do you think the Leafs could get for a package of something like JVR, their 2017 first round pick and a prospect (not on current roster)?

If Sosh slide into JVR spot, how many goals and points do you think he'd get playing with Bozak and Marner?

Not that I'd like to see JVR traded, but he just may be the mostly likely.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Best-Worst Scenario
« on: March 08, 2017, 04:23:55 PM »
Of course, most people would like the Leafs to make the playoffs and make some noise, but of these 3 scenarios only, which would be your most favourite and least favourite:

1. Have tight playoff like hockey right down to the wire, but just miss. The young players get the benefit of playing important playoff like games, learn some valuable lessons about making every game count all season long, and get a shot at a higher draft pick, maybe even get lucky in lottery by moving up.

2. Finish in wild card spot, get some actual playoff experience and some buzz around the city, but get bounced quickly by the Capitals, no lottery option.

3. Finish 3rd in their division, but lose to Sens for first time in history in closely contested opening round. No lottery option.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Leaf UFAs and trade deadline.
« on: January 06, 2017, 05:51:52 PM »
Whom of the Leaf UFAs coming up over the next year or two would you consider offering another contract to? Perhaps none of them? But if you did, how much and how long. Here are my thoughts:

JVR, 27: Obviously if you could get the right d-man, he would bring the most in return. But 30-goal guys don't grow in trees (and neither do the type of young d-man the Leafs would probably want in return). And, if the right deal isn't there, I would like to see how he performs in playoff pressure. If he showed leadership in the playoffs, I would consider extending him 4-years to age 32 under the right dollars, $5.5 would be my max. He would probably want more, but might consider a team discount if he figure the Leafs actual do have the potential to win a Cup over the next few years.

Bozak, 30: Ditto on playoffs leadership. Would only extend him two-year max, at no more than $3.5 million. But also trade bait for right deal. Nevertheless, decent all round player, good faceoff guy, better slotted on 3rd line than 1st.

Komarov, 29: I think he shows the most leadership of upcoming UFAs. Very versatile (PK, PP), plays with edge, well-liked in dressing room, and can probably stick around for a couple extra years at team friendly price. Babcock likes him.

My guess of these three, one or two get dealt, most likely Bozak or JVR, depending on what other teams are looking for and what they have to offer.

Others: Ben Smith will be gone and Lupul is not even in the discussion. All other UFAs on defence and on Marlies will be gone. Hunwick may hang on for a bit as a 6-7 guy, but probably not.

Also, what UFAs upcoming on other teams would you target, if any?


Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Do the Leafs need a high end Vet? And if so, who?
« on: November 01, 2016, 10:53:40 PM »
The Habs replaced Subban with whom they deem a respected leader... i.e. Shea Webber. Do the Leafs need to do likewise? Find a way to add the vet that everyone will look up to...a Wendal or Dougie type of guy. And what would they give up to get such an asset and who would fit that role in a deal.

Or do they just let someone grow into that role? Is there anyone on the roster to among current vets that could fill that role short term? Or do we just wait for a young buck? Interesting thought. Currently there doesn't see to be that guy the team will lean on. More Babs than anyone else as The Rock in my opinion. Would be nice to have The Rock in the locker room.

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Leafs 3 Stars
« on: November 01, 2016, 10:39:56 PM »
1. Kadri
2. Brown
3. Soshnikov

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Decisions, decisions
« on: April 11, 2016, 11:56:44 PM »
For the first time in a long while, the Leafs have established a pretty deep pool of NHL calibre or NHL ready players, which creates a healthy competition for spots but also creates a significant evaluation process to figure who to keep and who to discard, or who can be discarded? This "deep depth" scenario will be very interesting to see how it plays out. The Leafs seems to be overloaded in forwards, a little less deep on the back-end and even thinner in nets. Here's a brief look at the depth chart for discussion purposes. It assumes, Boyes, Grabner and Parenteau are left to free agency, though I liked how Parenteau performed. Not only the goals; he was actually one guy that would get into a scrum to stick up for teammates even though he isn't very big.

The wild card here of course is Austen Matthews?

Let's make it interesting and assume the Leafs get him. That would leaving centre looking something like this to...


What would likely happen? Either Nylander or Matthews could end up moving to the wing because I don't think Kadri is getting dealt, and they both either are top 6 or soon would be. The only way all three could remain at centre in 2016-17 is if Bozak got dealt. Froese and Gauthier battle for the number 4 spot. If the Leafs don't get Matthews, Bozak could start as number 2 center, but probably by mid-year slips to number 3 and could be dealt at trade deadline.

Left wing
Let's work on the premise, the Leafs get 2nd pick and end up with Laine. Depth chart probably looks like this...

Greening, Holland, Laich (tough choices for 4th spot)

Then pushing those guys are Leipsic, Timoshov, Johnson and Dzierkels, decent prospects who could surprise. Leipsic probably has the inside track, with the others getting seasoning in the Marlies. But even with that, there's 4 guys fighting for the fourth line, unless some get moved or the Leafs don't end up with Laine. Or maybe they end up 4th and pick Tkachuk, another left winger.

Right wing
Let's pretend the Leafs pick 3rd and get Puljijarvi. Another case of overcrowding. Depth chart could look something like this.

Lupul (I am being generous, started this year on 3rd line)

That's probably at least 8 NHL ready right wingers, assuming Kapanen needs more seasoning and Bracco just isn't ready. Lupul and Michalek obviously need to be moved. That would leave six. Let's take Puljijarvi out for a moment, that still leaves Soshnokov, Marner, Brown, Hyman and Leivo to battle it out for 4 spots.



Seem to be the top 6 at the moment. But pushing underneath are Valiev, Loov, then maybe, Percy and Harrington. Interesting up and comers are Travis Dermott and Andrew Nielson, who both had great camps and pre-seasons last year, and Babcock was really high on both of them. They followed that up with really strong junior seasons. Both are probably Marlies next year, but who knows. Apart from Rielly and Gardiner, who seem to both be bonafide top 4 D-men, Rielly first pairing, Gardiner second pairing, the Leafs could benefit from some enhancement in the top 4 D for next year. Too bad this wasn't a year when a D-man was in the top 3-4 class.


Not much else

Clearly the weakest area. Nice to see Bernier finish strong, but there was no pressure, playoff wise, or serious competition from another Reimer. I think the Leafs will make a move for another veteran goalie to create some competition again. I also think they might draft a top-rated goalie in the second round. I am hoping they go for Dylan Wells of Peterborough. I truly hope Bernier has overcome his challenges. He was highly rated and highly regarded. I think spending his first few years as a young goalie behind Jonathan Quick hurt his development. Now let me make this clear - I am NOT comparing him to Carey Price directly. I just want to point this out. Price was top goalie pick in the 1st round pick in 2005, 5th overall. In his first three season with the Habs he got in 134 games. It took Bernier 6 seasons after his draft (5 with the Kings, and his first in TO) to get in 126 games.  Bernier was drafted a year after Price, also top netminder picked in 1st round, 11th overall. Even after his first three seasons with the Habs, there were those that questioned Price because his lack of playoff success. It wasn't until Price's 6th full season with the Habs, and more than 300 NHL games under his belt, that Price actually had a decent winning playoff season in 2014. Bernier so far has just 213 NHL games under his belt, 2/3 of what Price had when he turned things around for the better. I am hoping that Bernier can do the same. I DON'T MEAN - be the next Carey Price, I mean to mature as a solid #1 goalie. I think it takes time, and maybe with what he's gone through this year, maybe he's ready? That would be so perfect.

On top of all this depth, the Leafs have in this year's draft. two: first, second, third and fourth rounders, so plenty more coming down the pike. The point of the thread was just to demonstrate there are a lot of assets in the pipeline, so maybe packaging some this quantity for quality in two for one, or three for two trades, might be a way of increasing the quality.

It will at least be fun to see how all this plays out? And, we haven't even considered free agents...Stamkos or 2018 Tavares...probably the better option...

Main Leafs Hockey Talk / Moving forward
« on: April 10, 2015, 07:53:12 AM »
With the season over Saturday, we're all hoping the Shanaplan, or whatever you want to call it gets things on the right track. Mark Osbourne I think called the tank right in that it will finally result in the gutting of an ineffectual core. Here are a few of my thoughts on a few things moving forward.

1.  Core players moving out: Phanuef, Kessel, Bozak, Lupul. Despite their fall-off. If all moved, these four guys should bring back some significant assets. It's critical that management get the right pieces in prospects and picks, hopefully some for the coming draft.

2. Players forming part of the new core and will continue to improve. This of course starts with Morgan Rielly and he certainly looks like a mainstay moving forward. Four important pieces here moving forward are: Kadri, JRV, Gardiner and Bernier. I think Kadri and Gardiner both played better all-round games this year. I've been particularly impressed with Gardiner since Horachek. He seems more relaxed, more confident and fewer mistakes. Better body position on forwards and better positioning overall. I think this is primarily the addition of Staios on the bench, which has probably helped Rielly too. Both Rielly and Gardiner stepped up with Phaneuf out. When Phaneuf came back it seemed to curtail the young guys to a degree, so moving Phaneuf I think is the first step. Kadri needs to take the next step to #1 centre, and we need bounce backs from JVR and Bernier.

3. Marlies. There seems to be a lot of promise in a couple of Marlies, Williams Nylander and Connor Brown. If they can make the playoffs, have a good run and strength up over the off-season, that could be two more pieces sometime next year. There could be a few others on the Marlies who might make a push as well. After Saturday the Leafs could send a few players back to the Marlies to strengthen their playoff push.

5. Free agency and fill-ins. It would be nice if the Leafs could find a nice piece or two during free agency, like the Islanders did last year for their defence. But not counting on this. Guys like Holland and Komo will likely be part of the bottom six, but otherwise it's anyone's guess.

One thing is for sure, this is going to be one of the most interesting off-seaons the Leafs have had in years...


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