Sunday, November 24, 2013

Andrew MacDonald Should Be on the Leafs Radar

A lot has been made about how the Leafs could really benefit from adding another defenseman to replace Carl Gunnarsson on the top pair alongside Dion Phaneuf.  For example, a lot of people thought the Leafs should have aggressively pursued Jay Bouwmeester before he was dealt at the trade deadline last season.

Well, suitable top-pairing defensemen don't grow on trees.  We've seen this firsthand over the years: a guy like Jay Bouwmeester doesn't become available very often and when guys like that do become available they come at a premium.  But every season, there might be one or two oppurtunities that present themselves where a team can actually bring in someone like that.  And this year it seems Andrew MacDonald of the New York Islanders could be that guy.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Why Mikhail Grabovski Hasn't Been (Quite) as Good as Some Think This Season

A lot has been made about how Mikhail Grabovski is already coming back to haunt the Leafs (as many predicted he would).  After all, he does have 13 points in 14 games this season.  But a lot of the numbers people have always used to defend him aren't in his favor this year.  Let's take a quick look:

-He has a PDO of 1075 (the next highest among Washington forwards with 10 or more game played is Jason Chimera at 1029).  This suggests that he's hard-pressed to keep up his current clip of point production.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

My Team Canada Version #2

John Tavares-Sidney Crosby-Steven Stamkos
Patrick Marleau-Jonathan Toews-Martin St. Louis
Logan Couture-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Eric Staal-Patrice Bergeron-Jeff Carter
Andrew Ladd/Rick Nash

Duncan Keith-Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Dion Phaneuf-Drew Doughty
Kris Letang/P.K. Subban

Carey Price
Cam Ward
Mike Smith

My Team USA Version #2

Zach Parise-Ryan Kesler-Phil Kessel
Bobby Ryan-David Backes-Patrick Kane
James van Riemsdyk-Joe Pavelski-T.J. Oshie
Dustin Brown-Brandon Dubinsky-Ryan Callahan
Paul Stastny/Jason Pominville

Ryan Suter-Paul Martin
Ryan McDonaugh-Justin Faulk
Seth Jones-Dustin Byfuglien
Jack Johnson/Zach Bogosian

Jonathan Quick
Corey Schnieder
Ryan Miller

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

My Stance on Fighting in Hockey

The debate about whether or not fighting should still have a place in hockey was re-ignited last night after George Parros suffered a gruesome injury in a fight with Colton Orr.  I'm gonna join the fun and throw in my two cents about the whole topic (as if anyone actually cares):

Here's what I know: in the 2012 NHLPA Players Poll, 98% of players said they wanted fighting kept in the game.  I also know that on March 9th, 2013 (inspired by Frazer McLaren injuring Dave Dziurzynski in a fight), legendary hockey mind Scotty Bowman tweeted this: "My stance on fighting in [the] NHL is simple: the players past and present should be the ones deciding on its future. I like others never played."  I also know that the players know and accept the risks and responsibilities that come with playing a violent sport like hockey.  I also know that, while its tough to watch someone get injured in a fight, the majority of fights don't result in an injury. 

I also know, though, that fights (especially of the staged variety) don't serve as big a purpose in the game as they once did.  If players are going to be allowed to fight, they should be ones whose sole purpose on the team isn't to act as a sheriff.  I also know that in international tournaments like the World Juniors or the Olympics (where fighting is banned) it takes away little from the experience.  And just today Darren Dreger wrote an article where Steve Yzerman, Jim Rutherford, and Ray Shero (all NHL general managers) spoke about the need to limit the role of the enforcer in hockey.

So I guess at the end of the day, respecting and understanding both sides of the arguments, I'm a bit in between.  I think first and foremost the players that play the game should decide what fighting's role in hockey is.  If they continue to feel as strongly as they do that it should be in the game, then so be it.  After all, it's their lives.  I enjoy watching fights (except when someone gets hurt), but I still see it as more of a compliment to the overall package.  While I hope fighting remains a part of hockey in some capacity, I won't watch any less if it's role is reduced.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

My Educated Guess on the Leafs Last Roster Spot

With today and tomorrow being the final days that NHL teams have to finalize their rosters and get under the salary cap for the start of the season, the Maple Leafs are closing in on an opening day lineup.  With names like Bodie, Smith, Brennan, and Liles on the waiver wire and others like Broll and Percy being sent down directly to the Marlies, the Leafs have little house work left to do.

Aside from the guys who are virtual locks to make the team, there seem to be five players still in limbo vying for one roster spot (the Leafs have just a little over $1M in cap space right now).  Those players are Jerry D'Amigo, Andrew MacWilliam, Josh Leivo, Jamie Devane, and Morgan Rielly.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Some Thoughts on the Leafs Heading Into the Preseason

The preseason is just two days away for the Toronto Maple Leafs, where no doubt a lot of the questions we've been asking about the roster will begin to be answered.  Ahead of that though, I'd just like to share some of my owns thoughts about the team in something of an informal post.  You've likely all read Elliott Friedman's 30 Thoughts column, so this should be pretty easy for you guys to handle.  Here we go:

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Why I Think the Leafs Should Probably Trade Cody Franson

The Situation: Training camp is a little over a week away for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson are both still Restricted Free Agents in need of new contracts.  The Leafs have roughly $4,900,000 in cap space, or $2,450,000 to spend per player.  The cheapest way possible to sign both of these players would be to sign them to bridge contracts (usually two-year deals close to half of what older players with similar production earn).  We've all done our estimates and most seem to think bridge contracts for both Kadri and Franson would fall in the $2.5 to $3 million range per year.  That already puts them over the cap.  The concerning thing is that even if you got them for cheaper somehow, you're still leaving yourself with virtually no cap space.  While some people don't have an issue with that, I really think you need at least around $1,500,000 in cap space going into the season to carry and/or call-up spare players, which can be especially important when you have someone get injured, but not injured enough to go on the injured reserve (which temporarily wipes a player's cap hit off the books).  The New Jersey Devils had this issue a couple years ago when they were pressed up against the cap and dressed less than 18 skaters in a game because they couldn't afford to call anyone up.

Friday, August 30, 2013

My Team Canada Version #1

Again, a bit late to the party but here's my personal Team Canada for the Olympics this winter:

Martin St. Louis-Sidney Crosby-Steven Stamkos
Taylor Hall-Jonathan Toews-Claude Giroux
Rick Nash-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Eric Staal-Patrice Bergeron-Jeff Carter
John Tavares/Logan Couture

Duncan Keith-Shea Weber
Jay Bouwmeester-Alex Pietrangelo
Dion Phaneuf-Drew Doughty
Brian Campbell/Kris Letang

Cam Ward
Carey Price
Roberto Luongo

My Team USA Version #1

I'm a bit late to the party, but here's my first version of how I personally would construct Team USA for hockey in the Olympics this winter.  A couple of key philosophies I have that you'll see show up on this team are having guys that can play in absolutely any situation, and guys that play their proper position/wing/side.  Here's my team:

Zach Parise-David Backes-Phil Kessel
Max Pacioretty-Derek Stepan-Patrick Kane
Dustin Brown-Joe Pavelski-Ryan Callahan
James Van Riemsdyk-Ryan Kesler-Jason Pominville
TJ Oshie/Paul Stastny

Ryan Suter-Zach Bogosian
Paul Martin-John Carlson
Ryan McDonagh-Justin Faulk
Jack Johnson/Dustin Byfuglien

Jonathan Quick
Corey Schneider
Craig Anderson

Thursday, June 27, 2013

On Letang, Lecavelier, Bolland, Gilbert, and Horcoff

The rumors are really starting to pour in leading up to the NHL draft on Sunday.  Here's a rundown of some of the player possibilities and what I think of them:

Kris Letang
If he can't come to an agreement with the Penguins on a contract extension, Rob Rossi thinks Toronto would be a preferred destination of his.  Apparently, the asking price would be a top prospect, a roster player, and a first round pick.  That's what the price is for every star player on the trading block, but teams never seem to get that much.  We either see deals like Mike Richards/Jeff Carter/Jordan Staal which include a top prospect and a roster player, or deals like Marian Gaborik/Rick Nash/Ilya Kovalchuk/Marian Hossa which include mid-level players/prospects and a first round pick.  If I had to guess, the Leafs package would probably be something like Gardiner/Rielly + Kulemin/Franson.  I think that if you don't believe Rielly or Gardiner can and/or will be as good as Kris Letang is, then you do the deal.  If you do believe they can and will reach that level, then be patient and let them grow from within, and take the advantage of their younger age, cheaper contracts, and the depth that Kulemin/Franson give you.  Either way, its an interesting possibility.  I'd definitely have interest If I were Toronto, since Kris Letang is a star player and star players are what you win Stanley Cups with.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Why I'm In Favour of the Leafs Adding Another Goalie

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been linked with big name goaltenders a lot over the last year.  Those big name goaltenders include Roberto Luongo, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Jonathan Bernier.  While some were in favour of getting Luongo last summer when the Leafs goaltending situation looked murky, most have spoken out against acquiring another big name goaltender since James Reimer re-emerged this season.

Let me start by saying I don't want the Leafs to get Roberto Luongo (because of his contract/age) or Miikka Kiprusoff (because of his recent performance/age).  But I wouldn't mind getting someone with a less binding contract that can play at a high level, like Jonathan Bernier, who the Leafs are reportedly interested in.  That's not because I don't believe in James Reimer (I do), but I am a fan of solidifying our position in net/giving ourselves two very capable goalies because teams that have strong goalie tandems almost always make the playoffs.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

A Historical Evaluation of Kerby Rychel

Kerby Rychel, a top prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft this June and a winger for the Windsor Spitfires, is one of just 12 players since 2000 that have had 40 goals in 2 of their first 3 seasons in the OHL. The other 11 players are, in chronological order: Jason Jaspers, Steve Ott, Derek Roy, Greg Chambers, Corey Locke, Patrick O'Sullivan, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Cody Hodgson, Taylor Hall, and Christian Thomas.

I took a closer look at comparing their numbers below:

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Toronto Maple Leafs Players Pace Over a Full Season

Now that the regular season for the Toronto Maple Leafs is over, I thought it would be interesting to calculate what sort of totals these players were on pace for over the course of a full season.  The math was easy, but I should note that I added 34 games (as thats the amount of games missed due to the lockout this year) to the total games played that the players already had.  For example, if a player such as Phil Kessel played 48 games this season I went off the assumption that he would have played 82 games.  If a player such as Matt Frattin only played 25 games I went off the assumption that he would have played 59 games.  I did this to account for games lost to injury/being a healthy scratch that already occurred in this shortened season, and I think it adds an added degree of realism to some of the numbers.  Also, and this is fairly straightforward, for the ATOI category I just took the ATOI that the player already had this season.  Lastly I should note that, much like my last post, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt (given the extended sample size and regression that can occur over an 82 game season which tends to tinker with pace).  Nonetheless, a lot of these numbers translate pretty fairly with a player's career numbers or projected potential and seem pretty realistic.  But again, they shouldn't be taken too seriously.  Enjoy.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Chances of Making the Playoffs After 82 Games if You Were in it After 48 Games in the NHL

Now that all sixteen berths in the 2013 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs have been clinched, I think now is an appropriate time to introduce some research I did earlier in the year.

Basically, I wanted to know how often a team that sat in a playoff spot after 48 games also sat in a playoff spot after 82 games.  What I did to try and determine this is go back over the last four seasons (excluding this one) to see where a team sat in the standings after 48 games, and compared that to where they sat after 82 games as well.  A fair criticism of this study would be to say that in an 82 game season, not every team reaches 48 games played at the same time.  This leads to some variability, in that while one team may be playing their 48th game they may be playing a team in their 50th game, which clouds the accuracy of how many points a team would really have if they all finished with 48 games at the same time.  I am not denying this at all.  That is a just criticism of this research.  However, generally speaking, what I'm about to show you serves more as a rough benchmark as to where teams sat after 48 games in previous years.  I would also point out that the 2 or 3 point difference for some teams that may occur given the variability in games played would not be the difference between making and missing the playoffs for most teams.