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It’s Toronto Maple Leafs day on PHT

Aug 8, 2013, 9:01 AM EDT

Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf Getty Images

Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Toronto Maple Leafs.

After missing out of the playoffs for a franchise-worst seventh consecutive season, the Toronto Maple Leafs entered the 2013 campaign with a relatively new ownership group, a new GM in Dave Nonis, and the same starting goaltender.

Despite months of speculation that Roberto Luongo would come to Toronto, netminder James Reimer was given a chance at redemption after his rough sophomore campaign and he took advantage of it. With a 2.46 GAA and topnotch .924 save percentage, Reimer was one of the main reasons the Toronto Maple Leafs finally ended their playoff drought.

Of course, he didn’t do it alone. Even with Joffrey Lupul missing most of the season, the Maple Leafs still excelled offensively thanks to Phil Kessel, newcomer James van Riemsdyk, and the rise of 22-year-old forward Nazem Kadri.

Toronto faced off against the Bruins in the first round and fell behind 3-1 to Boston in the series. Still, they fought back to the point where they had a commanding 4-1 lead near the midway point of the third period in Game 7. Ultimately, they left the crowd at Boston’s TD Gardens ecstatic and Leafs fans in shock by allowing the lead to slip away.

That dramatic 5-4 overtime loss is how their season ended and it’s what hangs over their head as they prepare for the 2013-14 campaign.

Offseason recap

The Toronto Maple Leafs made use of their compliance buyouts by getting rid of Mike Komisarek and Mikhail Grabovski’s contracts. Grabovski took the news hard and reacted by calling Leafs coach Randy Carlyle an “[expletive] idiot.”

Despite those maneuvers, the Maple Leafs are in a tough cap position after acquiring Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks, re-signing Tyler Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract, and inking unrestricted free agent David Clarkson to a seven-year, $36.75 million deal.

Additionally, Toronto traded for goaltender Jonathan Bernier to battle Reimer for the starting job. Bernier comes with a $2.9 million annual cap hit and the Maple Leafs agreed to retain $500,000 in cap space when they sent Ben Scrivens and Matt Frattin to Los Angeles in the same trade.

Toronto now has a little over $4 million in cap space left, according to Cap Geek, but they still need to re-sign restricted free agents Cody Franson and Kadri.


Introducing: PHT’s ‘Team of the Day’ summer series

  1. lostpuppysyndrome - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:16 AM

    Please tell me you hired Sean McIndoe for a special guest analysis.

  2. mickboogy - Aug 8, 2013 at 9:33 AM

    leafs can make a substantial leap this year as Boston, Ottawa and Detroit are nursing long playoff series. people are making too much of Detroit coming to the division, as they will be immediately dominant (which isn’t farfetched by any means) however; they are going to be transitioning to a more intense eastern style of play.

    • zetaone - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:12 AM

      You act as though one conference is vastly different than the other. As though one were the KHL and one the NHL.. They are both preeeetty much the same thing. I’ve had GCL for 4 years now and have watched an equal amount of WC and EC games. The only difference between the two are popularity and media coverage (obviously favoring the EC). If anything, Detroit will do better now since they don’t have to deal with as much layover time traveling.

      • kaptaanamerica - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:14 PM

        first things first the Maple Leafs will not finish in the playoffs, they’ll still be fighting for 5th in the division. the Bruins, Wings, Senators, Canadiens will all be fighting for the top four positions all of those teams are much better puck possession teams than the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs were the worst team in terms of possession to make the postseason versus every other team and by many measures were very lucky to even be in the playoffs last season. They’re now tight against the cap and will have a hard time bringing in additional talent. Their prospects are ranked in the bottom five or six teams in the league by hockey

        the Western Conference style of play leads to less goals less scoring and that’s the big difference. the east is more offensive the Western Conference which is more defensive with better goalchies in the West overall and defense overall than there are in the east.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 10, 2013 at 10:22 AM

        What happened to being objective, Kaptaan?

        “first things first the Maple Leafs will not finish in the playoffs, they’ll still be fighting for 5th in the division.”

        Do you have references to back that up? Magic 8-balls don’t count. Your post is 100% pure speculation and wishful thinking.

        Western style of play leads to less goals because the West has significantly fewer players named Crosby, Malkin, Stamkos, St Louis, Kessel, Ovechkin, Tavares, Giroux, and now Datsyuk.

  3. endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I question the “more intense eastern style” aspect (Note: questioning, not flaming). I see lots of general EC this, WC that. I don’t have the ability to watch much hockey overall, so perhaps there is a subjective impression from folks who actually have watched games from both conferences over the last few years I’m missing.

    But objectively, I see just a slightly higher total hits and penalties in minutes last few years EC vs WC -but neither of these are related to success (making the playoffs, success in the playoffs). I look at the #s and if you really want to be boored, I can make the analytical case if you really wish;)

    The Hawks, with their “high skill” vs. “physical” style seemed to have handled EC teams pretty well the last few years of inter-conference play, and beat the more physical teams in cup play 2010 and 2013.

    Both the Wings and the Bruins tried to knock the Hawks off their game in the playoffs this year, and for a while, they succeeded. And the Hawks adjusted both times, and the results speak pretty well for themselves.

    And if I’m honestly missing somethings, please feel free to make your case.

    • micklethepickle - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:35 AM

      I agree with everything you said. I think it’s just that –
      A) excepting the Canadian teams, most of the WC teams are way spread out and thus don’t interact with each others’ fans as much. Considering that back East, all the teams are clustered super close together (PHI/NJD/NYI/NYR fans pretty much all live in the same 50 square mile area… i’m exagerrating a bit, i know), familiarity breeds contempt, and contempt certainly makes for passionate rivalries. There are exceptions to this, but overall you know what I mean.

      and B) the media attention that the EC teams get is exponentially higher than that of the WC. Think about Chicago’s amazing run early this year, then compare it to the knob-slobbering that went on during the Pens’ (also-impressive) streak. Take away the Blackhawks’ unparalleled regular season success, and the WC’s biggest story this season was whether PHX would keep the ‘Yotes. The EC, in comparison, had ridiculous media-driven dramas, from Crosby’s injuries, to MTL/BOS rivalries, Ovi and the Caps’ struggles/successes, NYR’s “dream-team” hype, Carolina’s injuries, Toronto and Montreal’s youth movement, etc etc. So the biggest story we hear from the WC is that a western city can’t support/keep a NHL team, while the Atlantic Division alone got more media coverage than the entire WC. It’s a problem.

      My $0.02, at least.

  4. LampyB - Aug 8, 2013 at 11:05 AM

    Not quoting stats here, just an opinion but intense is a pretty good way to describe the EC. Montreal, Toronto, Boston, Philly etc. very physical teams with scrappers and some dirty hits. Absolutely different from the WC.

    However, the reason Detroit excels is because the always play their own game and stick to Babcocks plan. Theres no better team in the nhl when it comes to forcing an opponent to play the style they want. Teams are cornered to respond, and its generally a bit cleaner than most other teams in the EC (still with heavy hitting tho).

    • micklethepickle - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:26 PM

      That’s a silly stereotype, in my opinion. Think of Dustin Brown and the LA Kings, or Raffi Torres on the Coyotes/Sharks, or Duncan Keith cheap shotting all kinds of people. How about that absolute monster of a hit that …. Mason (?) put on Horton in the SCF a few years back. Like an above commentor said, it’s not like we’re comparing two different leagues; NHL hockey is NHL hockey. You just are more likely to see EC highlight hits on here or ESPN than you are WC ones.

      • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 1:50 PM

        The thing with Keith that folks who wern’t watching the games he justifiebly got suspended for was that he blatantly over-reacted to the cheap shots of others.

        Sedin tried to take him out in a corner, away from the puck, when everybody else, including the refs were headed the other way. Sedin did a head shot AND tried to board Keith head 1st, which Keith fortunately was just able to evade. So Keith does a stupid, in everybody’s sight retribution. He tried to deny the intent, and Sedin got the message “don’t ever try that stunt again”, the hard way.

        In the Kings series last year, when Keith goes to pick up his glove while skating alongside Carter, Carter slashes Keith’s bare hand. Keith reacts in the moment by reaching his stick blade around towards Carter’s head. Was not even a hard swing, but got Carter in the mouth. Keith realized he blew it, and tried to appologize on the spot. Carter refused to make an issue of it afterwords, as he knew he contributed to it.

        In the series final handshake, we saw Keith taking time to appologize to Carter. He knew he over reacted.

    • endusersolutions2013 - Aug 8, 2013 at 12:42 PM

      And 2012-2013 illustrates that. The Wings were not expected to do much – bubble team for the playoffs while they were rebuilding. Hardly anyone expected them to knock off the team with the 3rd most points in the league. I ranked all the playoff along 13 statistical factors and totaled the rankings. To my surprise, the Wings were pretty close to the Ducks, and with home ice, I expected the Ducks to win a tight series.

      Hawks were #1 in my rankings (my factors included offensive stats, defensive and depth), and they were night and day better than the Wings – by the #s. But after being dominated in Game 1, the Wings made the Hawks play their game and nearly took the series until the Hawks finally regrooped/adjusted and took game 7.

      Babcock may not be anywhere near the top of all time coaches in total regular season or playoff wins, just due to the number of games coached.

      But among coaches with at least 2 seasons full of games, he has a very good points% track record. Think there is a good reason he was selected to coach the Canadian olympic team this year. Hawks fans will miss the Wings games, and thee is a lot of respect both ways – among most long-time fans.

  5. nj666 - Aug 8, 2013 at 3:09 PM

    Really? it feels like NJ devils day from looking at the page. Wheres the Leafs news?

  6. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Aug 8, 2013 at 6:53 PM

    It will be tough to make the playoffs, but isn’t it supposed to be? The NHL is not an easy league. NJ won the conference one year, missed the playoffs the next.

    Leafs are in good shape though. They were one of youngest team in the NHL last year and they finished 5th in the conference. Young teams don’t tend to deteriorate that fast. They usually get a little better with experience. The team added better players over the summer. The 2nd and 3rd lines are better and so is the goaltending situation. Anything can happen, but If they stay healthy there’s no reason they can’t make the playoffs again.

    I don’t think anyone has a clear advantage in the division. Boston totally revamped their RW side. There’s no guarantees it will work. Detroit hasn’t been dominant in a while. There’s no reason to assume they’ll dominate now. Montreal got Briere. He’s been far from stellar in recent years. For a team that is already pretty small, not sure that is an improvement. Ottawa seems like they’re in the same boat as Toronto, good young team, should do well again. Tampa’s the only other team in the division that might make it. They’d have to figure out that defense thing, but it is possible. Florida and Buffalo are rebuilds in progress. They’re playing for draft picks this year.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1729)
  2. P. Kane (1357)
  3. M. Richards (1235)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1223)
  5. N. Backstrom (1082)