Now that the Chicago Blackhawks have loaned the Stanley Cup to Los Angeles for the year, it’s time for us to once again peruse the various also-rans in the NHL before the Hawks get down to the formality of reclaiming the Cup in June 2015. We continue our series with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
After making the playoffs in 2013, and putting a good scare into the eventual Eastern Conference Champion Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs took a step back, defiantly bucking the trend toward using advanced analytics for player evaluation and giving huge contracts out to players who had proven to be abysmal in the art of puck possession. I can’t for the life of me imagine the chain of events that leads a team to decide that you have to pay a combined $13 million a year to David Clarkson and Dion Phaneuf to wear your sweater until they each reach the age of 36.
Still, onward they raced into the stiff wind of reason, until they ended the season with eight of the bottom 20 players in the NHL in Corsi.
So now the Leafs have decided they are all in on advanced analytics, and have begun using sophisticated metrics and software to evaluate their players. In fact, here’s a peek at their results:
So there is still some tough sledding ahead for the Leafs. Let’s take a look at how they stack up:
They have one of the best forwards in the NHL in Phil Kessel. James Van Riemsdyk has turned into a pretty damn solid one too. Nazem Kadri managed to stack up 50 points while everyone in Toronto still managed to be disappointed. After that the dropoff is pretty damn steep. Tyler Bozak somehow managed to only have 30 assists while skating between Kessel and JVR’s combined 67 goals. David Clarkson is the reason everyone in Chicago needs to stop moving their mouths the second they start pissing and moaning about Bryan Bickell’s $4 million/per for the next three years.
Circus bear Roman Polak managed to ride his unicycle up to Ontario to – and I’m not kidding about this – improve Toronto’s defensive corps. I’m not kidding, these guys are brutal. Dion Phaneuf is Toronto’s top defensemen, but when Team Canada was announced and Phaneuf wasn’t even in the conversation for the 8-hole, nobody batted an eye. Good thing they’re giving him seven mildo per for seven years. Cody Franson and Morgan Reilly will also be featured in several highlight reels as “the guy in the background as someone scores a breakaway goal”.
Jonathan Bernier and James Reimer are in the pipes. One day they hope to be compared favorably to Alan Bester.
I’d tell you to drink a shot every time somebody mentions 1967 this year, but you’d morph into Rob Ford by Thanksgiving. The Canadian one.
Phil Kessel is the sexiest man to ever lace up skates.
ARE THEY BETTER THAN THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS?
Take off, eh.