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Should Leaf fans be more—or less—hopeful heading into next season than they were a year ago?

Based on comments I’ve reviewed here at VLM in recent weeks, there is a bit of a divide about how optimistic Leaf fans are (or should be) heading into the 2014-’15 NHL season.  Some Leaf supporters see the proverbial Leaf glass as half-full, others as quite near empty.

However you see the current situation, hopefully you will enjoy Episode 30 of “The Maple Leaf Hangout” with our guests Anthony Petrielli from the Maple Leaf Hot Stove site along with Gus Katsaros, Director of Pro Scouting for McKeens Hockey.

We cover a range of topics, from a realistic assessment of the Leaf prospects to who the Leafs might draft later this month as well as the never-ending trade rumours that are bound to pop up at this time of year.


  1. Really enjoyed that hangout, Michael! I think the Leafs really need to add a top pairing D and have more defensive balance among their forward group. That or have a shutdown line.

    If we already have X number of serviceable players then what is the harm in using the 8th pick in a package(Gleason/Franson?) to maybe get a Seabrook or another top pairing defender. There isn't much of a point in having all of this nice young depth if you don't have quality NHL players in your lineup.

    Didn't Lamoriello trade the 9th overall pick straight up for Schneider last year? Maybe that draft was a bit deeper?

    In any case, I am looking forward to the net hangout! Hopefully a post-draft day dissection!

    1. I wonder, too, Erik, if the Leafs will look at all possibilities- including moving up or down or dealing the pick.

      You make a good point- they have spent years stockpiling young players. It's not likely the 8th pick will yield an impact guy. If they can move the pick and useful players for a true impact guy, maybe they will consider it.

      And thank you for the good words about the show, Erik.

  2. Hi Michael,

    I enjoyed the show to especially the things Gus had to say. And I want to thank for commenting on my comments because that is very nice and not very usual.

    If the Leafs have serviceable players for depth roles that is very good news because that is what they lacked this season and this is what broke their neck. If they can establish a bottom six mainly made of homegrown players to affordable contracts, perhaps complemented by one or two veterans that would be the right path. And that would mean with injuries like this season they can fit in some Marlies and let them eat minutes and not only sit them on the bench. If there are really so many serviceable players.You can never have enough top end talent but it is harder to achive especially in those days. And we really have to deal with the top guys we have.

    Trading the pick would go against the things the guys said on the hangout. Because it is only the beginning. We do not have 2nd round picks the next two years and trading away our first rounder would shurely not add to our talent pool.

    But the thing with the picks is you never realy know what you get in the end.and if you can get a top pairing defenseman for that pick and a player, that would not be bad.

    I am very confident that the Leafs will look at all possibilities. And I trust them in making good decissions regarding that roster. And I think they will not blow up anything or make bad deals only for the sake of making deals.. When they have the opportunity to make a good deal they will make it. But I think it is possible that there will be only few good moves and not so much movement people would expect. The rumours made by Kypreos that everybody is shopped exept a few sends the wrong signal. I think they eveluate every possibility, but thats all.

    I would view the glas in no other way than before this season. The Leafs have to make the Playoffs and (sure we don't know what will happen and in which direction they go) the team has enough talent to make the post season (when they keep the important guys together). They should have made it this year. And that has not changed. Therefore some things have to change.

    1. Agreed- if the Leafs can utilize a stronger 'bottom-six' on their forward lines, they will be better than this past season, Marcus.

      The Leafs have some solid core players and some good young players. At times it feels like they are close; other times not so much.

      Thanks for tuning in to the Hangout.

    2. The Leafs dealt their depth away. There was the lower cap and there were players that were not loved seemingly but had experience and add secondary scoring.
      Loosing the goals of Grabovski and MacArthur (Frattin and Komarov left too) really hurt the Leafs this year. and their additions did not really add something. Bolland most of the season injured. Clarkson didn't show up. The second line had a real bad season (although Kadri was convinced he was teriffic, and that really bugs me). And there was no third line (because of Bolland and Clarkson) McClement was extremely overplayed on the 3rd line and his fellow 4th liners were established as bench warmers.
      Some of the assistant coaches said at training camp: we were deeper last season. Hopefully it does not start to haunt us. But it did.

  3. Thanks for the Hangout, Michael, with two of my favourite guests.
    They basically confirmed my fears --a capped out team without many options and a few "good pieces".

    Judging from the many different opinions on which player may be the top draft pick, there are no Crosbys in this bunch and few ready to play at the NHL level. Selling the 8th pick for a good player now could make things interesting and help in the coming season, at the same time it's not building for the future. This seems very familiar. I'll hope for a Shanarama miracle. CN

    1. It does feel like the Leafs are a bit in 'no man's land', Colleen- not quite close enough to being a serious contender that they can just trade draft picks away for those key roster pieces, but close enough that fans may not want them constantly building for a future that may never arrive.

  4. I liked the show and it did make me think that maybe I am a little too optimistic about the where the Leafs are in the grand scheme of things. But at the same time I keep thinking the Leafs are really not that far away from being a serious contender and what if they make major changes that end up hurting what they currently have?

    I'm just afraid that Shanny wants to make some big splash and the end result is the Leafs end up in worse shape and the never ending story continues. Everyone keeps talking about all the shots and chances the Leafs gave up and how Carlyle kept saying they have to get better defensively after every win. Then Bernier gets injured and the Leafs lose 12 straight and everyone says all the bad habits are starting to take their toll and totally ignoring that all these bad habits only became apparent after Bernier was injured. Watching the Kings in the playoffs makes me think they would never be where they are without good goaltending. They give up a lot of chances but Quick makes saves and all teams give up chances and the ones with good goaltending still manage to win. But if Quick didn't get the job done the whole King team would be sharing the blame the way the whole Leaf team is now being blamed for being soft and poor defensively and everything else. I don't expect miracles but the goalie has to be able to stop a puck for a team to win.

    I think Carlyle is pretty much the same as Sutter when he says the Kings have to be better after every win. It is all a game and you never want tell your players they are doing a good enough job as the coach always want them to be better even after every win.

    I listened to an interview with Cory Hirsch yesterday and he said shots don't really mean much and St. Louis played a system where they tried to get as many shots and shots on rebounds as possible to generate scoring chances. He said other teams played different systems and he had watched lots of games where the Blues out shot the opposition 45 to 20 but the actual scoring chances were even at 10 apiece. I have watched lots of games where the Leafs were outshot and won but I still thought the Leafs had the better of the play and other games where they have have missed several good chances which do not show up on the score sheet and lose a game they should have or could easily have won.

    So it scares me that the Leafs could make major changes because Reimer lost his confidence. I am hoping the Leafs keep players like Kadri and Phaneuf and bring up Holland, Ashton and Granberg and see where they are before they make a major overhaul. The Leafs may not be as good as the Kings and Hawks but they could be as good as the Rangers are right now so they are not that far away from a legitimate shot.

    1. You present a lot of fair points, Alton. Superb goaltending can cover up a lot of ills. Yes, the Leafs were often outshot and they certainly had flaws in their game, but they probably are nowhere near as bad as their late-season streak would suggest.

      They are seemingly caught between two options: do they proceed with their patient rebuild, or do they try to expedite things?

  5. On the bright side, Shanahan made it plain he did not like the systems used --being out-shot was bad enough, but the Leafs were breaking records in this area due to the amount of time spent in their own zone. Player usage, a 4th line should also make a difference even if they can't make many personnel changes.

    I think it's funny that Cherry is still calling the Leafs out on not having Canadians on the roster when it's a mostly Canadian team, including all three goalies. Kessel, JVR, Gardiner, Gleason, Kulemin and Gunnar are the only other non- Canadian regulars. He might as well just say what he really means--that 2/3 of the 1st line have to go.

    I don't know if you ever met his brother, Dick Cherry, but he was my kids' principal just before turning to scouting full time and lives just up the road. Quiet spoken, intelligent, friendly--he taught them all to play chess. CN

  6. Hi Michael,

    this is not a comment to this article but I simply use this spot to say something else.
    I discovert the Maple Leaf Hotstove and your side only a view weeks ago so I comment on some older stuff. I hope you do not mind and I find it very interesting.

    I have watched the Hangout #27 a few minutes ago. First of all I don't think they would have made the playoffs with Bernier healthy because they played so bad. You can not pin it all on Reimer although he deserved criticism. But I can say it lightly now because I know what happend in the last few games.

    But what I really want to say is: At the end you asked if you can have two players like Rielly and Gardiner on one team, because lots of people say you can not have two players so similar on one team. Both guys answeared correctly. Yes you can. But the people saying you can not are missing one big point.
    Our defense is not suited for that.
    We had seven D-men this season: Phaneuf, Gunnarson, Franson, Rielly, Gardiner, Gleason and Ranger.
    We agree that Rielly and Gardiner are very similar. Okay.
    Phaneuf is used as Carlyles maine shutdown guy, playing big minutes against opponents the best players. But Phaneuf is an offensive guy with a physical upside, he can throw momentum changing big hits, he has a great shot. But he is forced to a very defensive role he is not so comfortable with but he is doing it. (And that is part of being a good leader) His offensive numbers are not so good because of that but that's okay.
    Gunnarson is a defensive guy, playing with Dion but he is not able to take pressure away from him.
    Franson is an offensive guy (not the same type like G and R) , with the typical defensive lapses.
    Gleason is a defensive guy.
    Ranger is an offensive guy but was also forced in a defensive role. He had problems to adapt, not only to the NHL level again, but to a completely differnt role too.

    So we have seven D-men and in that Group five more offensive minded guys.
    That can not work. And it is not about R and G but the rest plus R and G.

    And I found everything very interesting that Gus said on Hangout #30 but I have one little doubt there. He said our defense won't be better with Granberg ( I don't know how he defines "better"). That is even possible. But he is sure as hell the type of defense man we need.

    1. Yes, Granberg is a defenseman I'd like to see with the Leafs, Marcus. I don't know how good he can be in the NHL, but he seems to be a guy who can help.

  7. Apologies, Michael. True to my nature I've gone completely off the topic and posted random thoughts.
    I was thinking in my head we hadn't seen Dick lately because we missed the biggest "Annual Spring Gathering" for this rural area. (Free Dump Day)--Colleen

    1. No worries, Colleen- you're always free to post here, even if it's slightly "off topic"!

  8. Less confident. From Leiwkeke on down, this group has done nothing to inspire confidence going forward. It hasn't been this dark for a long time.