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yave1964

Leafs offseason primer

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FINAL RECORD 49-26-7 105 points lost in first round to the Bruins

 

  A lot was expected this year, the Leafs are filled with young uber talented players especially among their forwards with Matthews, Marner and Nylander. Hopes were high that 1967 was soon to be in the rear view mirror.

  They ended the regular season with 105 points, the most in team history. Marner led the team in scoring, Matthews overcame a midseason rash of injuries to finish with 34 goals in only 62 games. Nylander started glacially slow but finished strong, complementary vets JVR, Kadri and Bozak all performed well. Marleau was a controversial signee because of his age but he shut everyone up with 27 goals. Hyman and Brown establsished themselves as solid middle six forwards. 

  On defense Morgan Reilly who had been forced by Babs the year before into more of a defensive role was turned loose and responded with 52 points, Gardiner proved the season before was no fluke also had 52 points meaning only the Leafs and Preds had 2 defenders with over 50 points. Hainsey and Zaitsev added to the top four, Hainsey does all the little things such as P/K and defensive zone faceoffs allowing Reilly to roam. What was once a weakness is now clearly a strength.

  In net Andersen was nothing short of amazing with 38 total wins to set a team record. Even Curtis McBackup did a solid job.

  Not all was wine and roses, Komarov had an off year, kid defenseman Borgman and Dermott didn't do much to lay claim to jobs inspite of being given every opportunity to do so. Kapanen continues to struggle and looks much more suspect than prospect at this point, Plekanec is rumored to have come over from Montreal but nobody really saw him so it is impossible to say if he was really with the Leafs or not.

 

FREE AGENTS

JVR is gonna get paid. Yeah I know a lot of Flyer fans in here do not like the guy but the truth is he scored 36 goals last year and in a very weak free agent class he is looking at likely getting somewhere in the 6 year 6 million range at a minimum and if a bidding war occurs it could go higher. 

  He is not the only Leaf player looking for a payday, Komarov is a hard hitting checking winger who can score a bit, Bozak perfectly typecast as a middle six center, Plekanec is gone almost as quickly as he came. Veterans Polak and Dominic Moore are likely moving on as well. The team will be younger and faster next season with most if not all of these guys moving on.

  The good news is a bit over 22 million in cap space to replace these guys with only Nylander a RFA in line for a payday this year. There is always a chance that both Bozak and JVR resign but if so between that and Nylander it will eat up most if not all the cap room. New GM Kyle Dubas may want to put his own stamp on the team.

 

TOP PROSPECTS

The Marlies are a win away from winning the Calder cup, so obviously there is some talent there. Like most top tier AHL teams they have an assortment of grizzled vets leading the way with a few kids mixed in. Andreas Johnsson a 7th rounder a few years ago has surprised as a point a game player in the regular season and leads the AHL in postseason scoring and looks like he may be an NHL scorer able to replace one of the wingers if need be. Gauthier is a checking center who will replace Moore. Calle Rosen and especially Timothy Liljegren look ready to fight for full time duty with the big club on the back end. Andrew Nielsen is another fine defensive prospect a scorers touch and a nasty streak but is likely a year or so away. Garret Sparks is a bit old to be a prospect but he has been solid in net. Jeremy Bracco is another scoring forward but also likely a year away. Overall while not loaded with top end talent that is ready now they have a solid bunch of middle six forwards and solid defense prospects headlined by Liljegren who is probably the best prospect in the organization. They are very healthy here. 

 

  OFFSEASON QUESTION MARKS

IS THE DEFENSE GOOD ENOUGH? I love Reilly, always have and felt he was underutilized two years ago and used exactly right last year. I have been slow in coming around on Gardiner but have to admit he is a solid two way defender. Hainsey as mentioned is perfect for defensive zone play a smart vet. That leaves kids such as Zaitsev, Borgman and Dermott and possibly Liljegren next year in the mix as well. Honestly, you could do a lot worse, I think that yes, a team could go deep with that crew.

 

IF YOU CAN ONLY SIGN ONE, JVR OR BOZAK WHO DO YOU BRING BACK? That may be the million dollar question, Bozak plays a more demanding position albeit at a lesser level while JVR has defensive lapses but 34-35 goal scorers do not grow on trees. All else being equal I say JVR but he is the one more likely to get in the middle of a bidding war. I could see because of financial constraints resigning Bozak first.

 

MATTHEWS AND MARNER ARE RFA THE FOLLOWING YEAR. OF THE BIG THREE ARE THEY ALL CAPABLE OF BEING KEPT LONG TERM AND IF NOT WHO GOES?  It is never too early to think ahead, next offseason Gardiner is a free agent and both Matthews and Marner are RFA and will be getting paid. Seriously paid.  Even assuming that Gardiner with kids Liljegren and Rosen fighting for playing time is a goner, there is only so much money to go around, Matthews will want in the 10 million range give or take, Marner and this years RFA Nylander will be wanting massive raises as well. Can all be kept? if not who goes? I defer to the Leaf fans in here to answer this one. 

 

ARE THEY STANLEY CUP CONTENDERS? Lets see how july first shakes out and we will talk. If they lose both Bozak and JVR without any significant additions to take there place I would say no. Keep one, replace the other, absolutely. This is a critical offseason for the Leafs as they attempt to get it to the next level.

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The team with no heart. The ship with no navigator. The player this team really needs isn't on the current roster.

 

You bring back JVR, Bozak has to go.

 

Yah, I know that sounds awful negative, it also rings very true from a fan who has watched the Leafs win 4 Stanley Cups.

 

Toughness - both physical and mental. That's what this team needs.

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I'm all hockied out for now. Enjoy your summer! See you in the fall.  :)

 

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18 hours ago, BluPuk said:

The team with no heart. The ship with no navigator. The player this team really needs isn't on the current roster.

 

You bring back JVR, Bozak has to go.

 

Yah, I know that sounds awful negative, it also rings very true from a fan who has watched the Leafs win 4 Stanley Cups.

 

Toughness - both physical and mental. That's what this team needs.

 

I agree with this except the JVR part, I think he needs to go.

 

After posting a new record for points this last year TO still has some work to do to bridge the contender to Cup winner gap. What happened last year showed that TO is on the right path. The toughness of which you speak is maybe already on the team and thru experience may be unleashed. Adding a top 6 quality forward like Tom Wilson would be great but we've seen that such players aren't necessary, a big mean mean top 2 d-man again would be nice but I don't think it's necessary. Pittsburgh and Chicago have shown that having miserable players to play against isn't necessary, having their quality players be mentally tough is.

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      I'm all hockied out for now. Enjoy your summer! See you in the fall.    
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      The team with no heart. The ship with no navigator. The player this team really needs isn't on the current roster.   You bring back JVR, Bozak has to go.   Yah, I know that sounds awful negative, it also rings very true from a fan who has watched the Leafs win 4 Stanley Cups.   Toughness - both physical and mental. That's what this team needs.
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