We are five days away from the NHL starting. Five-fucking-days away from the black and gold getting onto the ice and playing some meaningful games. With a condensed schedule, the Bruins will play Toronto four times this season. In the next five days, we're going to break down the Northeast Division, including a look at the Boston Bruins on Friday to wrap it all up. That's right, a Northeast Division team a day.
Before we can look at the current Maple Leafs, let's take a look at last season.
Top Five Scorers:
I must say that for as much shit as Kessel gets in Boston, the kid can play. He was a point per game player last season and that's a respectable number no matter where the player is coming from. Lupul had a pretty good year too, considering he was also a point per game player. We will look deeper into the Maple Leafs offense later.
Last season, Toronto was 29th in goals against per game giving up 3.16. Yikes.
|Player||Games Played||Wins||Loss||Overtime Loss||GAA||SV%||Shutout|
Um, wow. So the goaltending in Toronto last year was a complete shit show and there's potential for it to be even worse because Gustavsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings in the offseason. The Maple Leafs finished fourth in the division and thirteenth in the conference and many believe it's because of their goaltending.
After the jump, the 2013 Toronto Maple Leafs...
Transactions: (from June 23, 2012 to current)
|Mike Mottau||1/12/2013||Tor||Signed (One-year contract)|
|Ben Scrivens||9/12/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (Two-year contract)|
|Tyler Biggs||8/9/2012||Tor||Signed (Three-year contract)|
|Morgan Rielly||8/3/2012||Tor||Signed (Three-year contract)|
|Mark Fraser||7/30/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (One-year contract)|
|Simon Gysbers||7/24/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (One-year contract)|
|Keith Aucoin||7/24/2012||Tor||Signed as Free Agent (One-year contract)|
|Nikolai Kulemin||7/20/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (Two-year contract)|
|Korbinian Holzer||7/9/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (One-year contract)|
|Matt Frattin||7/1/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (Two-year contract)|
|Ryan Hamilton||7/1/2012||Tor||Signed as Free Agent (One-year contract)|
|Jussi Rynnas||7/1/2012||Tor||Re-Signed (One-year contract)|
|Jay McClement||7/1/2012||Tor||Signed as Free Agent (Two-year contract)|
|Mike Kostka||7/1/2012||Tor||Signed as Free Agent (One-year contract)|
|James van Riemsdyk||6/23/2012||Tor||Phi||Traded (for Luke Schenn)|
|Jonas Gustavsson||6/23/2012||Wpg||Tor||Traded (for 2013 conditional seventh-round pick)|
Last season the Maple Leafs were 10th in the league in goals per game with 2.77. It's obvious that offense isn't a problem in Toronto. The team still boasts players like Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul (who suffered a shoulder injury on March 7th, which made him miss the rest of the season). Maple Leafs fans are hoping that Mikhail Grabovski and Tyler Bozak finally turn the corner, given that they've each played in the NHL for more than three seasons now. It also doesn't help that Grabovski is the highest paid forward this season for the Leafs, which only heightens the expectations for him.
The Leafs are now hedging their bets on James van Reimsdyk, who was traded for Luke Schenn last June. Van Riemsdyk has quite the pedestrian season last year, playing 43 games, scoring 11 goals and amassing 24 total points. This coming off a playoffs (2010-2011) were he had 7 goals in 11 games as the Flyers were swept by the Bruins.
The problem with van Reimsdyk is that he cannot stay healthy. Last season was a disaster for him. Check this out:
Again, yikes. The kid is 23 though, so he'll more than likely bounce back. This has to worry some Maple Leafs fans though, given that he signed a six year contract extension with the Flyers before they basically packed his suitcase and sent him on a plane. The good news for Toronto? If TSN and CBC love him like Versus loved him in the playoffs, you're all going to cream yourselves.
Now we're getting into the shitstorm that is the Toronto Maple Leafs. From the Maple Leafs own blue line back, they are a train wreck of epic proportions that make Bruins fans so happy. Whenever you start with the Maple Leafs blue line, you start with their captain Mr. Cuthbert. Phaneuf is the highest paid player on the Maple Leafs and rocked a -10 for a plus/minus. In fact, if you look at the Maple Leafs defense, no one posted a plus/minus of even or higher.
So uh, yeah.
I mean, look at those names. Phaneuf, Liles, Schenn and everyone's favorite punching bag Komisarek. There's no wonder why the Maple Leafs were 29th in goals against per game. Who the hell are they going to stop? It's a god damn mess and the Maple Leafs brass hasn't really done anything to shore them up other than sign Mike Mottau.
Don't get me wrong, Mottau is a serviceable player who was average in Boston, but look who was built around him. He was average in a defensive system, how do you think he'll play when he's left alone on an island because Phil Kessel can't cross his own blue line without having severe panic attacks?
I mean when the best thing you've done for your defense is dump Tomas Kaberle on someone else, you're not sitting pretty. There's no reason to believe that the Maple Leafs defense is going to improve from last season, other than fan optimism.
And then we come to the real problem in Toronto:
The goaltending due in Toronto currently looks like this:
James Reimer and Ben Scrivens.
Yeah, you read that correctly. The Maple Leafs traded Gustavsson to the Jets late June for a conditional seventh round pick and then Gustavsson said "LOL LIVE IN WINNIPEG? BITCH PLEASE" and signed with the Detroit Red Wings on July 1st.
Why do you think the Roberto Luongo to Toronto rumors were flying around during the summer? If the Maple Leafs don't do anything to their "goalie" tandem, they're going to be in HUGE trouble. Let's look at those numbers again:
|Player||Games Played||Wins||Loss||Overtime Loss||GAA||SV%||Shutout|
Um, yeah. Roberto Luongo looks like a fucking superstar compared to these guys. There's no way, absolutely no way, Toronto opens the season with this large padded clown car and thinks they're going to make the playoffs.
Ah the "special teams" as I like to call them. The power play and the penalty kill. Toronto's power play is pretty good. Last season they ranked 10th in the NHL, converting on 18.4% of their power plays. It's not shocking that a good offensive team has a good power play (unless you're the Bruins). I would expect this team to be right around the 10-14 mark again this season.
The problem, like everything else is Toronto, is stopping someone. The Maple Leafs power play is abysmal, killing only 77.3% of all penalties (good for 28th in the NHL). I repeat: Phaneuf, Liles, Schenn and Komisarek.
Pension Plan Puppets founder @MLSE said it best:
@pezdoy basically the same team as last year minus Gustavsson. Which is scary.— Pension Plan Puppets (@mlse) January 14, 2013
I expect them to be in the same spot they were last year. Even if they add Luongo to man the pipes, their defense is a mess.
Predicted Standing: 4th in the Northeast, 12th in the Eastern Conference