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Maple Leafs that could be moved before the trading deadline….

Despite Saturday night’s win over the struggling Oilers, my sense is most Leaf fans have long since begun to look past the 2014-’15 NHL season—at least when it comes to the fortunes of the blue and white.  Whatever hopes, dreams, aspirations, expectations, etc. fans had came to a halt sometime in the middle of the just lapsed losing streak—if not long before.

But rather than lay blame on “why” we are where we are (goodness, there’s plenty of blame to go around—from ownership, management, the coaches…and lets not forget the players who may indeed not be entirely ‘coachable’) it’s likely time to look forward and determine where the Leafs go from here.

We can surmise that Shanahan will want to build through the draft (what option does he have—what free agents would come here unless they were ridiculously overpaid?), with a focus on effective player development.

That said, my idea of the right way to develop young players may be different than his, or at least different from his predecessors. And that’s fine. But given the state of the roster along with the lack of ‘will’ and leadership on the team, it seems clear that, as close as some of us thought the Leafs were only two short seasons ago to being a player in the East, there is likely yet another massive roster overhaul just ahead.

Hoping to win the lottery and get a generational player is a nice thought, but it’s not a plan. So Shanahan will obviously be patient in an effort to do this right. Whether he has the experience to do it right is quite another thing, but he’s been put in charge, and fans have little recourse but to hope he can make sound decisions.

The first thing I would note is that it would have made sense to make a management change at the same time as Carlyle was let go- last summer would have made even more sense.  I have nothing against Nonis.  He has been in the hockey game a long time and no doubt is a well regarded hockey guy. But in light of what has happened to this franchise over the past two seasons—and the history of the team falling apart at crucial times during the regular season (save for the lockout-shortened year when they made the playoffs), it would have made sense for the next GM to be in charge of the trade deadline decisions. 

Had such a move been made weeks/months ago, the new person would also have had extra time to evaluate the roster, as it prepares for the off season draft and free agency.

As it appears that won’t happen now, I’ll focus on player movement.

There has been much talk about trying to deal the Leaf core (at least some of them) but I don’t know what the market is for, say, Kessel and Phaneuf. Both are talented players, but also expensive given what they aren’t. 

There are many reasons why I’m a fan (albeit a longtime hockey observer) and not a GM. But as an “outsider”, I would suggest that the guys on the roster Shanahan should keep should fit into the category of 1) young, inexpensive and really talented 2) players with a big heart who don’t cost a lot and would be nice pieces of an improved team in the next year or two and 3) guys who have demonstrated through this rough patch that they have pride and passion and deserve to wear the Maple Leaf crest.

It’s not a long list, unfortunately.

My list includes:

  • Bernier -goalie
  • Rielly -young, very skilled, still on his entry level contract
  • van Riemsdyk -lousy year, but in a better situation, should be a very solid producer with a real knack around the net on a good team
  • Polak -grit, bit heart
  • Komarov-edgy player who could be very effective on a better team that needs a third line agitator

That’s it.

Now, there may be kids in the system that should be kept (Gauthier, Brown, Nylander, etc.) but others know about the prospect pipeline much better than I do.

There’s only one guy on my “bubble” list: Kadri, who is a cagey pivot, though I have my concerns about whether his seeming sense of entitlement is the right fit here.

Of course there are plenty of players who may well be here next year who are not on my list, and that would be fine.  Everyone likes what Santorelli has done in a “prove it” year for him to extend his NHL career.  I certainly don’t want to give Kessel away.  Lupul usually gives an effort but injuries seem to take an awfully big toll on him.

Some will disagree, I understand, but I do believe it could be time to move Jake Gardiner. I know I have long been an advocate of keeping young defensemen in the fold (I still remember when we traded Jim Dorey back during the 10971-’72 NHL season…that's a great old Dan Baliotti photo of Dorey in action on the right) and Gardiner seems to have so many of the gifts you want to see in a young, emerging defenseman.  And goodness knows it’s usually a mistake to give up on players too soon, especially defensemen. It takes time to develop in this league.

But we’ve also talked ad nauseum here about the importance of being coachable. And several years into his time here, I just don’t see the kind of progress I was expecting to see from Gardiner. I know a lot of VLM readers like him, and I understand that.

Recently, I read an article by an advanced stats expert, a very well respected individual. The claim in the article was that, based on whatever metrics matter in that world, Gardiner is the best Leaf defenseman. (And I acknowledge that I said, only a couple of years ago, I could see Gardiner getting 50+ points a season.)

That assessment from an advanced stats perspective, while perhaps technically “correct”, just didn’t sway me.  I’ve just seen too many times when Gardiner is not strong enough on the puck in the corners and around his own net. Yes, he can skate and move the puck out of his zone with dispatch. But he seems to have hit an offensive ceiling and I don’t feel his defensive play has improved they way it needs to. Sometimes he seems to do what he wants, not what he is coached to do.

You can get away with that if you’re an established star. But he isn’t.

So there’s my list.

I want a group of players that has skill, but a core that exudes leadership. I want a leadership group that others will follow. Throw in some grit along with players who are coachable (and will put the interests of the team at least slightly ahead of their own) and that would be great, too.

I don’t think we should be swayed any longer by players we “like”, or who looked good for a while (everyone does), or because they have “potential”.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts…


  1. I agree with your selections, although I am iffy on Bernier, I not convinced the he is a top 5 NHL goalie. I am not sure if he is strong enough mentally. Polak and Komarov never take a shift off and show good leadership abilities, and would be positive mentors for young players. Rielly has the potential to be a really good D man and is a definite keeper. I would also give some thought to keeping Panik and Holland, they seem to be low maintenance players with good size who can skate, and should be inexpensive to sign. To me Kadri is an egotistical little shit, who talks a much better game than he plays. I gave up on him when he compared himself to John Tavares. He will never be worth the money it will cost to keep him. The only way the Leafs will ever be a good team is if management commits to building this team the right way, by drafting talented players with character.

    1. Thanks mrj- my inclusion of Bernier may have more to do with simply being of the view that we need a goalie who can play a lot of games. I still think Reimer will be moved (though personally, I like Reimer as a Leaf).

  2. Hello Michael,

    Another great article - real food for thought.

    Though I have mentioned 27 as my cut-off age before, I would now lower it to 25.

    Therefore, that would mean keeping these players:


    Just because they fall under my cut-off age, I would still listen to trade talk on:

    Even though they are over my cutoff, I would keep these players:

    Komarov is already signed and we need players like him to teach the youngsters how
    to play the "right" way. Reimer could hold the fort until such time as the next
    generation (Bibeau?) is ready down on the farm.

    Therefore, from the current roster I would try to move the following players:

    As I have mentioned before, I would dangle Bernier and whatever other pieces were
    needed in front of EDM to try and secure their 1st overall pick - assuming EDM wins
    the lottery. Hello McDavid!

    There are a few good players on the above list, but I don't think anyone who's going
    to be here when the Leafs turn the corner and become true contenders.

    Now, I realize people are going to write off some of these names as untradable, but
    I think if MLSE is willing to eat enough of the money on some of these contracts,
    the player(s) can be moved.

    For example, if MLSE ate enough of Clarklson's contract to make him a 1 mil player
    to another team, we might get some other team to bite and his spot on the roster
    could be filled by some other player on a cheap deal (think Santorelli or Winnick)
    or some youngster with a future on an ELC.

    I look forward to what my other VLM'ers have to say.


    1. I recall that you have highlighted in earlier posts that the Leafs should focus on young players- I can't argue with that (provided we also ensure the right kind of experienced players are here, guys who will add leadership to the mix). I'd be good with keeping Reimer, as you noted. If healthy, I think he can play a lot, including back to back games. But as I mentioned to mrj, he may be on the "trade" list.

    2. Current Leaf roster anyone not named Rielly

    3. Short and to the point- thanks Walter.

    4. Wayne...I just don't see EDM moving their pick. No Matter What. McDavid is not Taylor Hall, or any of the other #1s they have. He's potential Crosby level. You don't move that pick and watch the guy light up the league for another team, no matter what that team offers you back.

    5. Ken,

      My head knows you are absolutely 100% right. NO ONE should move their 1st
      overall pick - especially if it's McDavid.

      But EDM is a different market than T.O. The fans are not afraid to show their
      displeasure with the team by not buying tickets and this of course applies
      pressure to the ownership.

      The ownership/management group there has to run the sceanrios and determine
      if they can get the fans to buy into the Rebuild 2.0 - even with MsDavid as
      part of that rebuild. If they do things the right way and not rush him to the
      NHL, they are probably looking at a couple of years before McDavid would be
      available to step in and make a difference. But he doesn't do anything to help
      them in net or on the D, two places they desperately need help.

      I think if the Leafs could give them enough to improve their team NOW and
      our 1st round pick in this year's draft (anywhere from 3rd to 6th overall
      which would still a VERY good player) for the future, they might be tempted.

      With apologies to John Lennon - all I am saying, is give EDM a call.

      OK, I'll shut up about McDavid now.


  3. Your short list is like mine (with one exception) and your bubble guy (Kadri) is the same, too. It's funny how he is still perceived as entitled no matter what he has done with his game and beginning to harness his tongue (especially this season) because I still have that perception as well. He seems to be doing and saying many of the right things, but still the fear of an underlying entitlement lingers. For me, his contract range demands will tell me what he's learned or become in the meantime. If it's too high (after a positive development year) then he can move on, if it's reasonable within a team-oriented range, then I'm happy to see him stay.

    Depending on all the changes and how many higher end salaries actually move on, I'd be happy to see 'them' replaced with mid-range term contracts for Winnik and Santorelli - telling them we may be able to afford you as a UFA, depending on the intervening factors and your contract expectations, but we need to trade you for picks/prospects now. As hard as it would be for those two to be used in this way, if we're up front about making room for them, I'd like to see them as the work ethic/veteran/teaching presence as we re-start with a younger group.

    Depending upon where we are next year at the TDL, I'd do the same with Polak on the last year of his deal.

    I think Franson is gonna' command a salary that may carry regrets down the road... I really like what he brings in the current 3.3M range, but more than 5M is more than would work for us at this stage (unless he embraces the trade for assets and become a long term part of the team at a favourite team discount rate (no more than 5.5 for 5 years as a UFA).

    Despite all the disrespect and trials in Reimer's career (especially since Leiweke came aboard), if we're starting again (to some extent), then Reimer has the character to improve his game, compete and set a good example (like we saw after the Friday loss) and may just be back on the team radar... especially if Bernier (in a package) could garner a substantial return. I do like him and his play, but we've learned he can have down times and weak goals, too. If the perception is that he has more value, then why not keep our goaltending costs in check and go with Reims? I'm curious what Bernier is hoping to earn on his next contract... this is another huge factor in the decision. If reasonable, then it's probably time to find a better situation for Reimer.

    One pipeline project that I believe still has the character and fortitude to become a factor is Tyler Biggs. He sure seems to garner the disrespect of many in Leaf land. After a stint in the ECHL, he has changed position and seems to be playing a stronger game while learning how to be a centre. He has worked on his skating and seems to be much faster and is even trying a few dangles on zone entries, etc. He may still have some potential as a power forward, especially if he turns his attention to his shooting prowess. If that can improve, many may rue the day they ever hoped to exchange him for a bag of pucks!

    Regarding Gardiner, I track along with what you're saying, Michael, but if we're re-tooling/re-building, then perhaps we can afford to await the 300 game mark - I was far less willing to be patient when I thought this core 'had a chance of making it happen' but now, if major changes happen, I'm willing to wait a little longer and hope it was worth the risk.

    I like your line about 'a core that exudes leadership' though I recognize how tainted I must have become because I first mis-read that line as 'excludes' - not a good sign, eh?!

    1. Lots of food for thought in your post, InTimeFor62.

      Regarding Reimer, I wonder if more Leaf fans are beginning to be OK with the notion of him staying if one of the goalies is traded to acquire future assets. (As you mention, contract realities may well play into that decision.)

      Kadri will likely seek a significant contract, and I don't think he deserves what his agent will be looking for. But we'll see.

      Exude-exclude...what a difference a letter or two makes!

  4. I am starting to wonder now where the Leafs would be with a really good goalie even with the current team. My guess would be at least a playoff team. I thought with Bernier they finally had solved the goaltending issue but I am no longer quite so certain as he has let him quite a few soft goals lately. Hopefully it is just a bit of a bad spell but he either has to step it up a notch or even a few notches or the Leafs still need a goalie that wins games for them. Reimer looked pretty good last night, but it was the Oilers. Too bad he missed the shut out but after flopping down there was no way to get back in position.

    All the teams are so close now and games are usually so tight and when a team gets a lead they start playing defense and usually all it takes is one soft goal to decide a game.

    Back to my first thought - I have watched quite a few of the Habs games this season almost as many as Leafs and the Habs are being out played night after night but Price keeps stealing games (and the Habs have also had a lot of puck luck so they are not as good as it appears). A lot of games simply come down to goaltending.

    The Leafs have no choice so they have to keep Bernier at least another season to find out what they have and I realy hope he is the guy but I am starting to worry. It really would be nice to have a Curtis Joseph to count on stealing games night after night. Rielly and JVR are also definite keepers but maybe Rielly a bit more so than JVR.

    Now I like Kessel, Gardiner, Kadri and Holland but I would trade them for the right players. I think Holland has a lot of potential and he is a young big center and the goal last night was a beauty. Kadri is skilled and he loves Toronto and it is too early to give up on him and I feel the same way about Gardiner. Leafs have a history of trading away players like Steen and I am worried if they are not absolutely certain of the player they are getting it will backfire.

    Kessel is an elite scorer but he is now 27 and might only have a few more good years at which point his production is falling off just when the Leafs are actual contenders so trading him probably makes sense given where the Leafs are right now.

    Gardiner is a player that still makes a lot of mistakes but sometimes shows flashes of brilliance and I would hate to lose him and then find out Joffrey Lupul was right when he said Gardiner reminded him of Scott Niedermayer. Lupul said that in the Boston series and Gardiner has fallen off since but he is still only 24 and most defensemen hit their prime around 27. I would hate to lose him unless it was for something big like maybe Bozak and Gardiner for a Jones.

    It should be interesting to see what happens in the next month. I would like to see the Leafs pick up a few draft picks for some of their UFA's and hopefully they don't make any deals that hurt them long term. I would like to keep Franson and Santorelli but they are handcuffed by the cap. It sure woul be nice without the Clarkson contract so they could sign Franson and it almost makes me want to cry at times (haven't done that since I was a kid in 65 when I thought the Leafs winning the Cup every year was a given).

    1. It's difficult to determine if Bernier is or can be the "guy", Alton. He was tremendous a year ago and often good this season. Right now, it's tough to make fair assessments given how the team overall has struggled of late.

      There's no doubt they have some contracts that don't help, but they need to try and not repeat the same mistakes with other players that look good- at times.

  5. I don't really see anybody as being untouchable, but there's one guy I'd want a king's ransom for, if we were going to lose him. No suspense on that particular name, obviously. To break it into categories, I'd have:

    Must Get Extremely High Return - Morgan Rielly. (I'd only trade him for a well under 30 team captain that plays center. None of those floating around, that I can see at a glance. Parades get organized around that sort of player, and Rielly may indeed be one of them, although not a center.

    Must Get High Return - Kadri, Gardiner, JVR, Komarov, Kessel. You don't give away that sort of quality for 3rd round picks, or another teams' dismal baggage.

    Must Get Decent Return - Bernier, Reimer, Bozak, Lupul, Phaneuf, and the rest.

    Free To Good Home - Clarkson. This situation will only get worse, so move on if we can.

    Probably the saddest I'll be to see a current Leaf go, but he needs a fresh start is James Reimer, although I wouldn't totally be upset if the (hopefully new) Leafs management rolled the dice with him. I see James as a true professional, and a decent goalie as well. I think it all comes down to that head hit he took from Gionta coming through the crease in 2011. He never quite seemed to get over that significant injury, and that's our loss. He's team-first player, and unlike Bernier, James is happy to shine the spotlight clearly on himself after a loss, specifically naming goals he wishes he had back. Whether it's in Toronto or elsewhere, I really hope Reimer has a fantastic career, as he has all the intangible stuff that I love in an athlete. The coaching staff treated him poorly at times, and James responded with nothing but class, and hard work.

    The only one I slightly differed with you on was Bernier, Michael. I'll be curious to see if anyone else thinks the shine has been taken off of this goalie a little bit, based on a year with inconsistent patches, and potential durability issues. One could make the argument that the sample size of his play falling off the map is admittedly small, but the guy's only started 100 NHL games, so the sample size of him being a solid starting goalie is pretty darned small as well. A crappy 10 game stretch represents 10% of his pro career, so it's definitely relevant. If Bernier is a rock solid #1 goalie, I want to see a minimum of 60 starts out of him, and about 30 wins, assuming he's behind an average to above average squad. Like Reimer, Bernier has also been inconsistent, but here I go breaking the cardinal sin of adding likability to the mix.

    As far as a gut feel on who to keep Michael, I'd remove Bernier from your short list, add Kadri, and leave the rest the same. Kadri can really bother me some nights, but that's mostly when there's a microphone in front of his face, as opposed to a puck on his stick. He's a polarizing figure in the eyes of Leaf fans for sure, and I even considered deleting this paragraph as I was starting to sway the other way again. I can't think of a young player I've flip-flopped on as much as Kadri. Ultimately, I guess the reason I want to keep Nazem going forward, is that he's that combination of not only being a talented forward, but he can be a true prick out there as well, which I love in my players. If Kadri could bring that sort of game every night like Darcy Tucker did, this decision would be easier.

  6. As I mentioned the other day, Rielly is my only "untouchable". I don't see leadership from any other Leaf, currently, and he has skill and is showing grit - and the ability to learn.
    I'm with you on Gardiner - same mistakes, game after game, year after year. Hockey talent, but no hockey smarts. I was surprised to learn he's as big as Franson. Certainly doesn't play that way.
    I like the attitude Reimer displayed after the loss in New Jersey, and the way he played last night. Right now, there's not much to choose between James and Bernier, is there? Both play well enough, but are prone to let in soft goals at the most inopportune moments. I have the feeling that Bernier has somewhat lost his confidence since that longshot goal, or at least that goal exacerbated it. Right now, I'm not certain that I wouldn't keep Reims.
    I also like the effort we see from Santorelli, Winnick, Polak, Holland, Komarov (though he hasn't been nearly the same since the injuries), Panik, even Smith. But you can't have a team of just hard-working pluggers.
    Kessel is a special case - it's so difficult to replace someone who produces so many goals. JvR vanished this year during our swoon - another Leaf who doesn't use his size (like Gardiner) to his advantage. I like Franson, too - but I wish he'd learn to play physically like Dion.
    I'd try to deal the rest. Which includes Dion. And especially includes Clarkson.
    As for all the talk of "tanking for McDavid", the problem is that one player does not a hockey team make. Even Crosby's Penguins haven't won the Cup for the past five tears, despite the presence of Malkin, Letang, etc etc. The Leafs are so far away from contending that whether we get McDavid or not, we won't be Cup-worthy for many years. Aagghh!
    (Anyway, I prefer Strome).

    1. I'd like to think JVR will bounce back when the team is playing better, Gerund. He may have been caught up in the team's struggles, but yes, he needs to use his size.

      Interesting thought re McDavid/Strome!

    2. Gerund,

      I know everyone is probably sick of me talking about McDavid, but I'll hold
      onto my dreams until he slips another team's sweater over his head.

      I don't think anyone expects McDavid to step in right away as the saviour, but
      wouldn't the wait for the re-tool of the big team be easier while we all waited
      for him to continue to develop?

      By the way, I agree with you regarding Strome - I think he would be a great, and
      more realistic, get for the Leafs.


    3. Wayne,
      Don't get me wrong - if there's some way we finagle that deal, I'll be smiling! I wonder whether Leaf fans will be patient enough to let him develop - not to mention management - but there's no question he looks like a terrific talent at his current level. I'm just wary of quick-fix "saviours" when what's needed is a whole team effort.

  7. Yes, it's hard for some of us not to get wrapped up in the "likeability" issue when it comes to Reimer, Russ. I fall into that category, too.

    Kadri is indeed a polarizing guy here, and as Alton says, we let Steen go (management apparently didn't like his work ethic and attitude) and he's had a wonderful career in St. Louis. So who knows, eh?

  8. I agree with your list for the most part Michael. I would add Panik and Holland to the guys I would keep. Both are big, young, inexpensive guys who can play up and down the lineup. Panik reminds me of a younger Winnik and Holland would seem to be a prototypical third line center.

    I would also Keep Reimer over Bernier. I'm not convinced that Bernier is actually all that much better than Reimer. Other than a few stretches here and there Bernier hasn't exactly shone. Secondly, with Bernier looking for a new contract this summer he is going to be looking for a big raise and a lot of term. If the Leafs are going full tear down as it looks like they are then Reimer is more than capable of being the starting goalie for the Leafs. That and he will be a whole lot cheaper. If the Leafs go rebuild the last thing they need to do is hand out big money contracts with lots of term. They need the flexibility and potentially Bernier would bring a better return than Reimer.

    1. My guess is Bernier would bring a greater return than Reimer, Willbur. Whether management is thinking about dealing a goalie, who knows!?

  9. I am not sure anyone should be totally untouchable. If someone is crazy enough to offer up say Tavares for Reilly do you say no? But Reilly is more untouchable than anyone else on roster without a doubt. I might move a player or two between the 2 middle slot descriptions in Russ' post but overall I agree with him.

    I find it ironic that the best "leaders" on this team are some of the guys that were added this past off season. Komorov, Winnick and Polak have all shown on the ice, and off by all accounts, what has been and is missing from the top paid core of the team.

    1. Interesting point on Rielly, Pep. And true enough about the team leaders.

  10. Hi Michael,

    Shanahan has already proven that he can make sound decissions.
    Not firering the Coach and GM before the season and seeing the full machine in operation mode was crucial for Shanahan to make the right decissions eventually. Firering Nonis and Carlyle last summer would have gained nothing.

    Shanahan is calling the shots, in this sense he is the GM, but Nonis makes the actual operational moves. In other words: If he really wants to hire a new GM he needs somebody who is willing to work that way. I believe Nonis is good at this and multiple source say they work very well together.

    Evaluating the roster, this is what Shanahan and his team are doing now, so bringing someone in to evaluate the roster makes absolutely no sense. Shanahan is doing that and he will come up with a plan what needs to be done and how they want to play and what they want to do as an organisation (this is what I always talk about).
    According to this plan they can make coaching decissions and (if he wants to) hire a new GM.
    But , and this is crucial, it is about Shanahans plan and executing that. We have to get away from bringing in somebody new who tries something for three years and gets fired. If we want a chance, Shanahan's plan has to be good and needs to be executed over a long time ( not only three years) to see good things happen. This is how good organizations operate.

    If the guys he should keep should fit in your categories 1, 2 and 3 why did you leave Holland and Panik out, they are young inexpensive and talented and trading them would absolutely make no sense. On your category 2 I doubt that the team will be improved next year. Why do you think it will be improved? We will trade our veterans and corner pieces for picks and prospects ( I know with these contracts there will be something else coming back), this team will be worse next year not better.

    It woult be counter productive to trade away the kids you mentioned. We don't have enough good prospects, so no trading away prospects.

    It really comes down to two things:

    a) They have to evaluate who really is useful to this team and I mean not only their playing but the
    things we can not asses from far. How are they in the room, what about their leadership skills,
    what about their characters. Who is really willing to step out of his comfort zone and so on.
    And these are the guys we need to keep and build around. Who ever this is.

    b) Is Shanahan willing and will he be allowed to make the hurtful decissions that will make this
    hockey club better in the long run. Will he be allowed to trade away Gardiner and Kadri?
    Will he be allowed to destroy our D for the short term and get rid of our top two centerman?
    Is Rogers and Bell willing to pay the price to make this a better team/organization?

    Gardiner has not only defensive problems, he has significant problems in moving the puck but everybody keeps repeating what some reporter invented a few years ago but is proven to be FALSE!

    On he analytics thing, I think I read it too. But we learned something important about analytics through this stretch: It's only numbers. I do not doubt there is truth in it, but not in any case.
    Gardiners mistakes do not seem to affect his advanced stats. But they affect the score in a negative way. For me the score counts.

    Eric Duhatscheck wrote a nice article on the Globe and Mail Website about players being coachable. I can only strongly recommend to read it Michael.

    I don't have no list because as I wrote above it comes down to the things we really are not able to asses.

    What I can say is: No more silly contracts to mediocre players!
    If you keep Kadri make it short and cheap. As well as Bernier.

    Bernier is not the right golie!

    Keep Holland and Panik.

    1. As I often say here, Marcus, we all see things a bit differently (referencing your comments regarding Shanahan)! I think a new GM should have been in place by now, but I respect your perspective.

      I did not read the Globe article, but I've written about players not being coachable here for a long time already.

      Thanks Marcus.

    2. Yes I know you did, but in this one there are some intresting takes of Hitchcock and so on. And it is fresh so you can still read it on their webside.

      They make their decissions within the group of Shanahan, Nonis, Dubas, Hunter and Pridham but Shanahan is calling the shots ( and that won't change) so if a new GM comes in he has to willing to work that way. Lamoriello wouldn't perhaps be the best choice. You know what I mean? A GM change may come and I am okay with it, but he won't be a GM as there are in other organizations because the one pointing the direction is Shanahan.

    3. Shanahan is in charge, absolutely, Marcus. Whether another experienced GM (though as you say, an experienced guy may not accept the kind of role Shanahan has in mind) with a fresh set of eyes would help the organization, who knows?

    4. Oh yes perhaps he would help or has a deeper bag of tricks or whatever.
      If they can bring in a guy who could help they should bring him in.

  11. A great post, Michael. I'll try not to rattle on as I usually do.

    While I see the Leafs heading into a re-build, and you can't fix something without first taking it apart, I believe it will be a slower process under Shanahan. He still needs to ice a team next season.

    We have a few promising players, Nylander, Loove, Brown, that may or may not be ready next year and I really think Shanahan wants to give them as much time as possible. I see the same process again next season, signing cheap UFA's both to the Leafs and the Marlies, selling for picks, moving another core piece. I believe Hunter and Dubas are targeting players for the Marlies so I see a few youngsters from the farm system moving out.

    I would like to see better scouting at the NHL level. (Leafs Nation had a post entitled Dave's "Magical, Mystery Scouting Tour". I hope he has guidance with him.)

    Bernier's save % in 11 games from Dec. 30--.892
    Reimer's save % in 7 games from Dec.29 (mosty in B2Bs)-- .921


    I agree with Anthony at MLHS that splitting the games for the remainder of the season might be a good idea. Bernier can be outstanding but he's not shown any sign of durability in the past two years. He plays his best when rested. I think they need a better look at both goalies. (I can't imagine Reimer wanting to stay after the embarrassing yank on Tuesday but he's played well in limited starts.)

    So my list going out is: Lupul, Santo, Winnick, one Dman--Franson or Phaneuf, I leaning toward Bozak moving, one goalie, and possibly Clarkson in exchange for something equally bad. Unless an amazing opportunity presents itself, I don't think the Leafs will do more. A very patient re-build starting first with the Marlies, building through the draft, development and re-stocking, may be the main focus. Decisions on coaching and the GM position still to come.

  12. Take the time to read Eric Duhatchek's article about "uncoachable players." It is the best sports column I've read in a long, long time. It is also directly applicable to the current Leafs' situation. I believe, as does Duhatchek, that the right coach in Toronto would have a really positive effect on the current group.
    Many years ago, an NFL coach said about Don Shula, "He can beat yours with his, and his with yours." A high draft pick would certainly help Toronto but so would a great coach. Over to you, Mr. Shanahan.

    1. Good post BCLeafFan, as the Duhatschek article was in interesting read. I would offer just a small thought that doesn't fly in the face of what you're saying, but maybe just points to the situation from the coaches' perspective. When you look at NHL coaches getting kicked to the curb due to dismal results, or the players tuning the coaching staff out, it's often a synergy issue, and like that old saying goes.... you can't trade all the players. Look at Laviolette in Nashville this year as a coach that Philadelphia wanted to see the last of, but clearly the Preds are pretty smitten with him. Hitch in St.Louis is another example of failure in an individual market not reflecting the coaches quality as a whole. Not sticking up for Carlyle here, as he needed to go, but you could him include him the ranks of the two coaches I just mentioned that were Cup winners elsewhere, but fizzled in a particular market.

      I agree totally though, that the next coach is an important move, and I'd like to see someone worthy of a decade long tenure that takes the team from rebuild to contenders, as opposed to more "3 years and out the door" coaches that seems to be the Leaf way, recently. I actually liked Paul Maurice during his time here, but the revolving door of GMs always leads to the inevitable revolving door of coaches. I think Paul "gets" the Toronto marketplace, and is savvy enough to deal with the media side of it, and the player egos as well.

      Whether it's Coaches and their assistants, GMs and their assistants, team presidents or other assorted suits, we've just been mired in constant change at all levels of management for a full decade. When is goes on for this long, it seems logical to look up the food chain and wonder if the ownership group understands the benefit of stability, or if we'll keep changing these guys like furnace filters, every season.

  13. Hello Folks,

    At this point, since he hasn't made any rash moves, I think we should give Shanahan some time to see what he can do.

    The one move which, in my opinion, he should have made but didn't, was starting the destruction of the core and rebuilding of the roster during the last off-season.

    Even though it ultimately wasn't fair to him, keeping Carlyle in place to keep the seat warm for the next coach was the right move - assuming that Shanahan's move to put all his eggs into one basket (Babcock) for the coaching position pays off.

    I think I know why he did it, but it was inexcusable to use this season (a STRONG draft year) as a year to evaluate and make decisions about this team and its' core.

    To even a casual observer, it was pretty obvious what the Leafs were at the end of last season - an 18 wheeler which had massively crashed and burned two of the three previous
    seasons. Making the playoffs in the shortened season was the outlier.

    If the rebuild had started last off-season, the Leafs might find themselves today in a better position vis-a-vis the cap, possibility challenging EDM and BUF for the 1st overall pick, and be sitting pretty to swoop in this coming off-season and "help out" the other teams which
    find themselves hard pressed against the cap. When I say "Help out", I mean like the Islanders did this past off-season with Chicago (Leddy) and Boston (Boychuk). My goodness, amazing how quickly you can re-tool when you can pluck 2 of your top 6 D-men from other teams.

    Now what the Islanders actually paid for those 2 D-men could turn out to be a rather high price (3 players and 3 picks) but G. Snow knew he needed to roll the dice for this season - so far so good but we'll see how they do in the playoffs.

    Based on where the Leafs should be heading into next season, I am not necessarily advocating that they do the same - trade the future for next season, but better to give yourself options in case the rebuild goes faster than expected.


  14. Given the article topic, here's another idea:

    The Kings need to know they have roster players in place (and need to get on a run pretty soon), yet they can't know what will happen with Voynov until the day after the trade deadline (if I remember correctly). So, there is a chance that he is cleared of the domestic violence charges OR that he goes on trial (and would obviously remain suspended with the league).

    I think the Kings can't just 'hope' to have him back for a playoff run (given the situation), they need someone who can play. The Leafs could do right by Phaneuf by trading him to LA (helping him to live where his wife works) and 'help' the Kings to accept his full salary by sending Voynov to us along with their 1st pick (though we may have to throw in a conditional prospect or pick depending on if Voynov is cleared and able to play or, the same for us if he is convicted and has his contract terminated with the blessing of the league).

    If Voynov is cleared, then we have a cheaper defenseman (improving cap position) and a draft pick, while changing the core.

    I could also imagine the Kings wanting to part ways with Mike Richards where we could give them a roster player in Clarkson to give both a new start. Richards may be a decent interim Center (during a rebuild) and a potential easier buyout somewhat down the road (depending on prospect development).

    I wonder if this kind of scenario could answer those who believe we would have to retain salary to move Phaneuf?!

    1. I think I'd like to see that court case decided, before I'd commit to Voynov wearing the blue and white, or any NHL team colours. Those charges against Voynov are creepy and disturbing, and there's no way I'd get behind any player that wasn't cleared beyond the shadow of a doubt for a brutal domestic violence charge. I love the player, InTimeFor62, and agree that if he comes off squeaky clean after a full investigation and trial, I'd be all over Slava, as that's one heck of a hockey player. I think it just sends a bad message to Leaf fans in general, to sign Voynov pre-trial, and hope he's cleared.

      In terms of having to retain salary on Phaneuf, I think the Leafs rolled the dice with regards to the Canadian dollar, and came out on the losing end with both Dion's and Phil's contracts. There was all sorts of talk of the salary cap pushing into the 85-90 million range in a couple of years, and those contracts would have looked a lot better as a percentage of the overall pie, in that scenario. Now we're looking at a bit over $70M for next year's Cap, with Phaneuf and Kessel eating up a gigantic piece of it.

    2. It sure looked like Phil and Dion's contracts would be reasonable with a higher cap, but it sure looks like another unexpected challenge for sure, Russ.

      I totally agree about Voynov and may not have been clear about my intent on including him in a trade for Phaneuf... I'm speaking about prior to the TDL and the court news that come out the day after. If Voynov is found guilty, then the league appears open to voiding the contract, in which case, he would not be wearing the Blue and White (or any other combination of colours). If innocent, then we have a good player, but the Kings benefit by assuring they have themselves a player in Phaneuf for this years playoff entry/run, whereas with Voynov, the issue could drag out for a while.

      My business-oriented hope would be to gain value by relieving them of an unknown/ problem and providing a good replacement (sort of like the Lombardi plus Franson deal, but in this case, we pay his salary instead of LA), that would also bring a lower cap hit if Voynov is truly vindicated and stays on the Leafs after the ruling. Of course, he may still have a civil suit to deal with, but his wife says it was accidental, so probably wouldn't sue him.

      I hope he is not actually guilty, but it sure looks like 'where there's smoke there's fire' so we may well only have him till his contract is cancelled, in which case, the Kings would add a conditional pick/prospect. If he did stay with us, we'd probably send a 2nd/3rd or prospect to the Kings.

      Hope that made more sense :)

    3. Actually Russ, ITF62's idea might not be a bad one. The salary as it stands for Voynov isn't on the books against the current cap due to the long term suspension. AND if he gets charged and found guilty there is standard language in every contract that gives them an out to terminate the contract completely. I am sure the NHLPA would grieve that but from what I have read the language is solid and I don't see where the PA could win that argument. I guess the risk is you only get a 1st for Phaneuf in that situation BUT you also get his over inflated price and term off your books which is worth something in the CBA cap world.. I am not sure this is the best move either..but it is an interesting one to think about and discuss for sure :)

      As for Richards for Clarkson? ..I don't see the Kings doing that. They get a lesser player for more term and a worse buyout setup. I would rather have Richards as my 4th centre for that price than Clarkson as my 4th line winger.

    4. InTimeFor62,

      This is the kind of creative thinking that we, as Leafs fans, can only pray that Shanahan and Co. are mulling over at the ACC.

      I agree with Russ that the Voynov situation is disturbing and if he is found guilty, he should be punished to the full extent of the law. What was equally disturbing was his complete lack of awareness on the precarious position he would be placing himself in with his alleged behaviour. As he is not an American citizen, if he is not cleared of all charges, he could find that the next time he leaves the country, he could be denied re-entry to the US on the grounds he is "inadmissable". That would spell the end of his NHL career.

      In looking around at potential destinations for Phaneuf, I to have thought that LA would be a good fit. As LA is making their traditional late season push for the playoffs and they could end up losing Voynov for nothing (see above), they might be agreeable to a Voynov for Phaneuf trade.

      I didn't like the Richards for Phaneuf trade as LA would have been getting a good serviceable player and we would have been getting another aging veteran on the downside of his career - even though he's had one hell of a career! I don't deny Richards would be an upgrade over what the Leafs currently have, but once again his age would guaranteed he wouldn't be here when the Leafs turn the corner.

      I think the Clarkson for Richards trade would work for the Leafs, but I don't see how it would benefit LA. Like the Leafs, they are a fairly fast team and Clarkson's style of play doesn't mess particularly well on a team with speed - as is becoming readily apparent with the Leafs.

      I have nothing personal against Phaneuf or Clarkson and would like to see both succeed with other teams as opposed to languishing with the Leafs through a long and challenging rebuild.


    5. Thanks for your comments Pep and Wayne, it's funny how what I was thinking didn't come out as clearly as I had hoped, because I was only separating the Phaneuf-Voynov part of a single trade from the Richards-Clarkson part. The first element seemed complicated enough (with my expectation of a conditional pick/prospect going one way or the other depending on if Voynov was found guilty), so I didn't clarify that part of the overall cost would be affected by Richards-Clarkson.

      Yes, we'd be getting the better contract and player in Richards, hence a difference in the potential conditional part of the deal would become clearer down the road once the Voynov situation was settled. Another good point is that he could be convicted of a lesser offense and still be unwelcome to cross borders, in which case he couldn't fulfill his contract (and we wouldn't want him anyway). The ONLY way I'd want him on the roster is if he is entirely innocent/ exonerated completely. In any case, I hope he becomes a better man throughout this whole 'ordeal'.

      I do hope that we can find creative solutions being implemented within the organization... perhaps if enough people talk about such ideas, they might filter through the historical Maple Leaf fog (where we fans always seem to pay dearly for our team's mistakes).

      PS it seems Tyler Myers is off the market, so we'll have to see if that opens up the market for LA, the Ducks, Dallas (or Detroit) on the Franson/Phaneuf front. I wouldn't be surprised to see both of them gone in the coming weeks.

  15. Believe it or not (Surprise!) Lupul is out again. Franson is playing on an injured leg. Phaneuf with his injured hand--I sometimes wonder if this team is truly jinxed.

    1. Surprise..surprise is right. I remember reading once where Lupul said his name is Romanian for "wolf". But I am pretty sure Lupul is Romanian for "ouch that hurt".

    2. I was wondering if "Lupul" was Romanian for "Colaiacovo", if you remember Carlos' career in Toronto. Colaiacovo would wince in pain during the most pedestrian of plays, and yet another part of his body would be diagnosed with a major flaw. Too bad, as he was a solid defenceman that never realized his potential in Toronto. Trading him to St. Louis would have been just fine, if Alexander Steen wasn't also part of that transaction for Lee Stempniak. Yes, Stempniak..... Leafs management have made some real head scratching trades in the past decade.

      Cody and Dion are generally pretty durable guys, so maybe as Colleen implied, when it rains it pours, on the Leafs (and their fan base).

  16. From the news reports today, it looks like Shanahan has complete backing by the organization to begin the rebuild. Not that we didn't think it was coming but good to know ownership is on the same page in supporting the idea. I had been wondering since Shanahan arrived how much rein they would allow him, and how difficult his position would be if he doesn't have full control.