With the Toronto Maple Leafs currently knocking on the door of a playoff position, it seems strange that so much focus seems to be on next season. While many Maple Leafs fans would be thrilled to see their team in the playoffs, they are under no illusion that their beloved Blue and White machine is in the position to challenge for the Stanley Cup— not this season, anyways. One of the main factors in the Maple Leafs faithful doubting their squad is the clubs well documented shortcomings on defense. Currently, the Maple Leafs employ a top-six of Morgan Rielly, Nikita Zaitsev, Jake Gardiner, Alexy Marchenko, Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak in their defensive pairings. It goes without saying, none of those defenseman are known as an elite defensive specialist, which is often why the Maple Leafs struggle mightily on the
When Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello completed the deal with the Anaheim Ducks for goaltender Frederik Andersen earlier this week, many fans were up in arms about the price tag— a first round pick in 2016 (30th overall, acquired in the Phil Kessel trade), and a 2017 second round pick. Anytime you give up a first round draft choice there is always a chance that the pick you trade turns into a stud in your opponents lineup five years down the road. That said, as the saying goes, you have to give up something to get something and Toronto got “something” in Andersen. The deal for Andersen was contingent on the Leafs’ signing him to a long term deal, which Lamoriello and Co. did, signing the 26-year old netminder to a five-year deal worth a reported $25 million.
With the 2016 NHL Entry Draft just a few weeks away, many fans and NHL executives have been dreading the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers landing the first overall pick for the third time in six years. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly recently stated that there will be more discussions within the NHL offices with regards to making additional changes to be implemented should Edmonton land the coveted first overall pick. While many fans will applaud the Leagues efforts to review the Draft process, it would seem to me that, unless the NHL is willing to make significant changes to the Draft, we run the risk of finding ourselves in the same situation sooner rather than later. In a recent episode of Sportsnet’s Tim and Sid show, Daly went on the record about Edmonton winning the lottery. “I think there’s
Listening to the Toronto Maple Leafs management team, there is a sense of pride and contentment with regards to their current stable of prospects and what the team may be able to acquire during the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. As the NHL’s last place club, the Maple Leafs have secured a 20 percent chance of landing the first overall pick. Simple math tells us that the Maple Leafs’ also have an 80 percent chance of missing out on the coveted first overall pick. Of course, having finished last in the NHL means the Maple Leafs can do no worse than a top-four pick in the upcoming NHL Draft. The top three prospects are American-born centre Auston Matthews and Finnish wingers Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi, with the fourth ranked prospect often differing depending on which mock draft you read. Should the Maple
Like many NHL clubs, the Toronto Maple Leafs have dipped their toes into the NCAA free agent waters on occasion. Last year, the Maple Leafs signed highly touted forward Casey Bailey to a free agent contract, only to move him to Ottawa this winter as part of the Dion Phaneuf deal. Some of the other players the Maple Leafs have signed out of college include, Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson and Ben Scrivens. Obviously, Bozak has been a serviceable NHL’er, Scrivens has bounced around the NHL, but is still getting some ice time (now with the Montreal Canadiens) while Hanson (yes, he is related to the iconic “Hanson Brothers”) was nothing short of a bust. Some of the more successful free agent college signings include Bozak, Andy Greene, Ryan Carter, Teddy Purcell, Darroll Powe, Danny DeKeyser, Davis Drewiske, Matt Gilroy, Cam
When you look back at the history of the NHL Entry Draft, the most difficult position to project has to be goaltending. While many top-tier netminders have been chosen in the early rounds (Marc-Andre Fleury, Carey Price, Roberto Luongo) an equal number of early draft picks have failed to live up to expectations (Al Montoya, Rick DiPietro, Eric Fichaud). And then there are the diamonds in the rough, netminders that were taken in the later rounds that emerged as stars (Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne, Dominik Hasek). Of course, we would be remiss if we did not include a number of undrafted goalies that emerged as stars such as, Ed Belfour, Curtis Joseph and Jonas Hiller. In the early days, few netminders were drafted in the first round, but with a premium being put on the position, this behavior is