As the season winds down ever so slowly, it’s time to start looking ahead to next season. Although there are many areas that need to be addressed, and many more areas from which to find solutions, the NCAA free agent pool is today’s topic of discussion.
Brian Burke et al are usually very active when it comes to the college FA scene, as we have seen in years gone by. To refresh your memory, here is a short list of his college free agent work:
- Christian Hanson now plays in the Washington Capitals organization, but Burke pursued him for his combination of size and skill.
- Tyler Bozak was the top free agent of his class, and rightly so. He has become the de facto top line center for the Toronto Maple Leafs, alongisde Phil Kessel.
- Brayden Irwin was a big forward that Burke signed, but hasn’t shown much in his time here. He was re-signed to a minor league contract, and spends his time mainly in Reading, the ECHL affiliate of the Toronto Marlies.
- Ben Scrivens was the top goaltender available, and has become one of the best goaltending prospects in the system. He’s the starter for the Marlies.
- Simon Gysbers is a smart, offensive puck moving defender currently manning the blueline for the Marlies this season.
- Tyler Brenner was last year’s college free agent signing, and has split time evenly between the Marlies and Reading Royals. Hasn’t show much offensively just yet.
As the NCAA itself begins to conclude it’s season, more and more players are becoming available to sign as their respective teams are eliminated. You can bet that Burke will be ready to pounce as soon as these players become available, ready to hand a bag of cash at them.
Just to clarify, the Leafs will be able to sign college free agents this year because they are only at 48 of the 50 allowed contracts. Technically they have 53 contracts, but five of these players (Greg McKegg, Stuart Percy, David Broll, and Andrew Crescenzi) don’t count because they have not played at least 11 NHL games this season (and were returned to their junior teams).
Regardless of the above, since a player doesn’t count against the reserve limit unless they play 11 NHL games, any signed free agent would not count against the reserve limit for this year, but would have a year burned off their contract.
This leaves the Leafs able to pursue any and all free agents they can throw their money at.
So, just who could the Leafs be targeting?
The number one option in my mind would have to be Justin Schultz who is currently property of the Anaheim Ducks. He’s a former teammate of Jake Gardiner‘s, and he had a standout year with the University of Wisconsin Badgers. Schultz scored 44 points this season (16g – 28a) continuing on his 47 points last season (18g – 29a). Speculation holds that Schultz will hold out on the Ducks until July 1st, where he can then field offers from all teams as an unrestricted free agent.
Should the Hobey Baker candidate become a free agent, you can bet your bottom dollar Brian Burke will probably be taking a run at him. He’s about as good as they get coming out of college, and it would give Burke more depth on the blueline from which to make a deal.
Mark Zengerle – Center – Wisconsin
Attended Toronto Maple Leafs prospect camp last summer and the Maple Leafs still have interest in the sophomore forward … Tied for most points among all second-year players in the country … Had second-longest scoring streak in program history at 20 games. – Tim Wharnsby – CBC
Spencer Abbot – Left Wing – Maine
Spencer Abbott leads the nation in both points (56) and assists (37). And not surprisingly, he has become one of the top candidate’s for this year’s Hobey Baker Award as well. In addition to his point production, Abbott’s quickness and game-changing ability are among the assets that have put him squarely on the NHL radar. One team that has reportedly paid close attention to Abbott’s development at Maine this season is the Toronto Maple Leafs. - DJ Powers – Hockey’s Future
Dan DeKeyser – Defense – Western Michigan
With 30 NHL teams pursuing him, Dan DeKeyser has become the hottest commodity on the collegiate free agent market this season. And it’s not hard to see why. Two NHL teams that have shown some of the greatest interest in the Broncos rearguard are the Detroit Red Wings and the Toronto Maple Leafs. – DJ Powers – Hockey’s Future
These are just a few of the more popular names out there, and the Maple Leafs are probably interested in many others. At this point, we know the flood gates are opening and Brian Burke loves his free wallets.
Goalies have been a hot topic in Toronto for a long time. Gone are the days of stable goaltending from the likes of Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph and Eddie Belfour. Gone are the failed experiments in Andrew Raycroft and Vesa Toskala. Moved on are the journeymen and failed prospects.
These days in Toronto, the net is minded by two youngsters, James Reimer and Jonas Gustavsson.
Reimer – a 23 year old from Morweena, Manitoba – is in his second season playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Reimer is fresh into a new three-year contract that pays $1.8 million annually. He earned it based on a strong finish to last season which saw Reimer earn the starter’s job, posting a 20-10-5 record with a 0.921SV% and 2.60 GAA.
Gustavsson – a 27 year old from Danderyd, Sweden – is in his third season playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Gustavsson is in the last year of a two-year contract that paid him $1.35 million annually. Prior to that, he joined the Toronto Maple Leafs by signing a one-year contract worth $2.5 million ($1.6 million in bonuses). Gustavsson posted a 16-15-9 record in 2009-2010, along with a 0.902SV% and a 2.87GAA. Last year he regressed to a 6-13-2 record, with a dismal 0.890SV% and 3.29GAA.
With the season just over half finished, now would be a good time to take a look at how the goaltending is faring this season. This was somewhat brought upon by a tweet from @thejustinfisher last night, joking that Gustavsson was getting hotter just in time to walk when free agency hits.
The goaltending hasn’t always been that good this season, and I emphasize the word good because it’s still not great (far from, really). Good goaltending helps teams steal games. It can bail a team out on nights where the compete level isn’t where it should be. It can inspire vigorous offensive play, diligent back checking and defensively sound play.
The Leafs haven’t received adequate goaltending since the last time they made the playoffs. Since then, it’s been an up and down ride. That all seemingly changed last year towards the end of the season. Enter rookie phenom James Reimer, whose goaltending and calming presence led the Leafs on a late season run of good hockey, bringing them close but never really close enough for a playoff berth.
Reimer’s late season heroics were enough to earn him a shiny, new contract (as noted earlier) and gave Leafs Nation a sense of renewed optimism for the upcoming season. We had finally found our bonafide starter. The search was finally over, and we could focus on improving other aspects of the team. Burke’s mantra of building from the net out was coming together, and we could finally move forward.
Fast-forward to the beginning of the 2011-2012 NHL season. Reimer plays the first five games of the season, and the Leafs are feeling good with a 4-0-1 record. Nine of a possible ten points. The bandwagons are loaded, the parades are being planned, and everything feels good. At least, on the surface.
I can’t remember if it was addressed at the time but I have a feeling it was. There are a lot of intelligent minds out there who definitely would have caught these concerning statistics, but I’m assuming they were downplayed because of the overall success of the club. Getting back on topic, here are Reimer’s stats from this season:
After posting a shutout in the season opener against Montreal (a game I was at, he looked very sharp), the stats go downhill for Reimer. Five goals on thirty two shots against Ottawa (0.844 SV%), three goals on twenty four shots against Colorado (0.875 SV%) and three goals against Winnipeg (0.897 SV%). That’s three of five games with a save percentage less than 0.900. After 5 games, Reimer was sitting at a save percentage of 0.913 with a GAA of 2.60.
The numbers themselves aren’t bad, and Aristotle did say that the ‘The whole is more than the sum of its parts”, but you had to wonder if the goaltending was going to start catching up to the team.
As it would go, James Reimer succumbed to injury in his next game, exiting the lineup with what was eventually called a concussion.
Enter Jonas Gustavsson and AHL callup Ben Scrivens.
Gustavsson, by necessity, assumed the starter’s job when Reimer went down, and many in Leafs Nation became nervous, as Reimer was seemingly the only one able to play in pressure situations. After the first couple games led by Gustavsson in net, it looked as if the fans were right. Gustavssons stats so far this season:
As you can tell by the above statistics, Jonas’ first few games as the starter weren’t that pretty. Inserted to his first start before Reimer went down against the Bruins, he was blown out for six goals on forty three shots (0.860 SV%). If you remember watching this game, the Leafs played downright embarrassing, but the goaltending was nothing to be proud of either. His next two games saw him posting sub 0.900 save percentages, and collective groans were heard in Toronto.
The goaltending of Gustavsson did not encourage coach Ron Wilson to give Gustavsson the bulk of starts, and so farmhand Ben Scrivens was able to get into some game action. Unfortunately, despite a good first game, the honeymoon ended early for the Cornell graduate. His NHL statistics are as follows:
Of the eight games he played in, Scrivens posted 4 games in which his save percentage was lower than 0.900. On the flipside, Scrivens’ other four games saw his post save percentages all above 0.925. With obvious investments in Reimer and Gustavsson, Scrivens’ stay was brief, and he returned to the AHL.
Reimer would eventually return, but his results haven’t been spectacular. This has led to the temporary naming of Gustavsson as the starter for the team. As coach Wilson put it, the goalie who is getting results and gives the team the best chance to win, will start.
That man has been Jonas Gustavsson, he of the 0.908 save-percentage and 2.83 GAA. In comparison, Reimer’s accumulated a 0.899 save-percentage and 3.01 GAA.
The numbers aren’t pretty, and as a direct result, neither is the team’s record.
So the question is, what should the team do?
With goaltender Jonas Gustavsson set to hit the UFA market (which, may I remind you, is the barest it’s been in years) and James Reimer signed on for two more seasons, the team will have some decisions to make.
Ben Scrivens (AHL : 2.37 GAA, 0.912 SV%) and Jussi Rynnas (AHL : 2.63 GAA, 0.910 SV%) are both set to become RFA at season’s end.
Mark Owuya (AHL : 1.97 GAA, 0.932 SV%, 5 GP), who has spent most of the season with the ECHL Reading Royals (ECHL : 2.78 GAA, 0.929 SV%), has one more year left on his contract.
Grant Rollheiser (a Leaf draft pick) hardly plays, and is still attending college. Garret Sparks (taken in last year’s draft) is doing his time with Owen Sound in the OHL.
All are decent prospects, but are any legitimate starting goaltenders? Possibly, but none would be able to step in right away.
There’s a chance James Reimer can be a starting goaltender, he’s shown good ability in the past, but he’s currently in a funk. The team will have two more seasons to evaluate his ability and at a reasonable cap hit too.
With Gustavsson, the situation gets a bit difficult. He could choose to walk away in the summer, seeking bigger dollars from a team that’s willing to allocate him more starts. The Leafs would certainly look to platoon the new backup with Reimer, who hasn’t show the ability to get the bulk of starts on his own. There’s also a possibility that the team may choose to walk away from Gustavsson. In their defence, they may have deemed him not capable and would seek an alternative.
Now the question becomes ‘Does the alternative come from within the organization, or would they have to look externally?’
Ben Scrivens seems like the best option internally, but that would put a lot of pressure on Reimer, who would be expected to gain the majority of starts. I just can’t see the Leafs going with a Reimer / Scrivens duo, it’s a lot of inexperience and there would be tons of room for failure.
It makes most sense for the club to seek an external option, and in all honesty it would need to come from a trade.
Some of you reading this may be saying ‘why trade for a goalie when we can sign one for free?’. Normally, this would be correct. However, the UFA market for goalies is absolutely horrible. The only player worth mentioning is Josh Harding, who coincidentally is on the list of players I think the Leafs should target.
This post is really dragging on, and I normally despise doing that, but when you think about the topic, the length is merited. To keeps things simple, I’m going to list goaltender candidates the Leafs should target for next season. I’m assuming they part ways with Gustavsson (who has proven he can’t handle the job and/or might seek bigger dollars from another organization) and they opt to not go with a Reimer/Scrivens tandem.
Without further hesitation, I will unveil my personal list of goalies the Leafs should target for next season:
- Josh Harding: Has been toiling as the backup behind Nicklas Backstrom for years now. Seen by many as NHL ready, filled in admirably while Backstrom was struggling early on. It’s possible he has been the by-product of a defensively-strong Minnesota system. Could be a good candidate to platoon with Reimer. Career GAA of 2.62 and .917 save percentage.
- Jaroslav Halak: St. Louis gave up a package for whom they thought would be their starter for many years. With the play of Brian Elliot, and prospects such as Jake Allen and Ben Bishop in the system, the Blues might look to deal Halak away. He’s owed $3.75 million annually until 2013-2014. Would command a hefty return, but appears to be best goaltender available through trade. Started off slow, but has regained his form. Lifetime GAA of 2.48 with a save percentage of 0.916.
- Sergei Bobrovsky: Emerged as solid goaltender for Philadelphia last season, but wasn’t enough to get them far in the playoffs. They went out and acquired Ilya Bryzgalov, and he’s signed to big money and a long term. Bobrovsky has played well this season, and has split time with Bryzgalov. He will have year left on his entry-level contract (RFA 2013), and might want to assume starter’s duties elsewhere. Lifetime 2.56 GAA and 0.916 SV%.
- Cory Schneider: In terms of skill, Schneider earns number four in the list of goaltending targets. That being said, he’s highly valued piece by Vancouver, and they aren’t eager to move him, considering Roberto Luongo’s incosistencies. Would command big package to acquire, and even then, it’s a pipe dream. Lifetime 2.45 GAA and 0.922 SV%.
- Jonathon Bernier: Jonathon Quick has been simply unreal for the Los Angeles Kings this year. They’d be doing a lot better if the rest of their team could support Quick’s efforts. Bernier remains a trade chip for LA, as it seems they will be going with Quick in the long run. They have some farmhands (in specific, who could be ready to assume backup if they decide to move Bernier out. Bernier is still raw in terms of ability, but he’s highly touted and could be that goalie. Hasn’t played much in the past couple of seasons, but if given the chance, he could explode.
- Anders Lindback: Has stormed on to the goaltending scene, playing very well behind Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. With Nashville locking up Rinne and issues trying to get both Shea Weber and Ryan Suter long term, the Predators may look to move Lindback, whose contract expires at season end. He will be an RFA, but will seek more money, and the Preds may be unable to afford him. Lifetime 2.62 GAA with a 0.911 save percentage. Nashville is known for being a defensive team, so the transition to Toronto may be difficult (as with Harding).
- Ben Bishop: An interesting situation in St. Louis, as one of their top goaltending prospects is set to become a UFA at seasons end if he does not play 15 more NHL games. The depth in St. Louis is so deep that Bishop has been limited to 13 NHL games, and will change from RFA to group VI UFA. He’s a big goalie, standing at 6’7″, and would be ideal for the Allaire style goaltending. He could probably be had for a small price (as compared to the above alternatives), but there is more risk associated with his acquisition. Lifetime 2.83 GAA with 0.896 SV%. (AHL 2011/2012: 2.17 GAA and 0.932 SV%)
- Antero Niittymaki: With Antti Niemi, Thomas Greiss and Alex Stalock the writing is on the wall for Niitymaki. Set to become a UFA at years end, the Sharks will most certainly liked to get some value for him before his contract expires. Niitymaki is last on the list because of his age and his ability. He should be a last ditch effort in order to shore up the goaltending, if all else fails. I don’t believe the Leafs will look at Niitymaki as a trade target, but could approach him in July should all ele fail. Lifetime 2.95 GAA with a 0.902 SV%.
I’ve ranked the list somewhat in terms of cost, ability and potential. All of the candidates (with the exception of Niittymaki) are below the age of 27 and would fit in well moving forward. The only goalie that would be obtainable outside of trade would be Harding, who tops the list. Bishop could potentially become a UFA, but that’s a longshot; St. Louis will almost certainly move his rights to a team in need prior to the deadline.
I’d love to hear everyones thoughts on the list, and what your creative ideas are for improving the goaltending situation. Leave a comment, or send us (@leafswire) a tweet.
After ending their three game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, the Toronto Maple Leafs are presented with a great chance to cement themselves into the playoff hunt. With four games in three nights, the Leaf will face the Montreal Canadiens (Saturday night) and the New York Islanders (Monday night, Tuesday night) in a home and home matchup.
There’s no such thing as an ‘easy win’ in the NHL. You have to battle and give it your all every single night to earn the two points. With that being said however, the Leafs will face two of the weakest teams in the league this year. Grabbing six points won’t be easy, but it should be doable, especially if this team aspires to make the playoffs.
The Leafs are sitting at 51 points after tonight’s win; one point out of 8th and four out of 6th. Earning a full six points in their next three games would give them 57 points.
Toronto’s trying to gain ground on Pittsburgh, New Jersey and Florida, all of whom have played the same amount of games or less. The Leafs desperately need these points in order to close the gap and put them on their way to secure one of the final playoff spots.
It looks as if Florida’s steam is running out, but New Jersey and Pittsburgh could pose issues. Winnipeg isn’t that far behind, and if they challenge Washington for the division lead, the Leaf will be forced to contend with Washington as well.
No one ever said making the playoffs this year would be easy. Hell, it’s a lot more exciting this way. The thing to remember is, every journey begins with a step. Taking six points in the next three games would be a big step in the right direction.
- – -
Jonas Gustavsson had another good performance in the Leafs’ win against the Wild. He stopped 20 of 21 shots, letting in somewhat of a soft goal in the waning minutes of the game. The team played a better defensive game in front of him, and the goaltender made timely saves in order to preserve the win.
Gustavsson is 5-2 with a 1.86 GAA and a .934 SV% so far in January. Two of those wins were shutouts.
Over the entire season, Gustavsson is 13-9 with a 2.92 GAA and a .906SV%.
Gustavsson will be a UFA on July 1st, 2012. The Leaf will need to make a decision on how they proceed in net for next season. James Reimer is signed on for two more seasons while Ben Scrivens, Jussi Rynnas and Mark Owuya are all splitting time in the minors this season.
What do you think the Leafs will do with Gustavsson? Leave a comment below, or tweet us.
Some of you will argue it’s not very curious. It’s just plain bad. At this moment, it’s difficult for me to present a strong argument against that.
The Leafs miss the calming, steady hand of their number one guy, James Reimer. There is no question about that. Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens are simply not cutting it right now. Just take a look at the stat lines.
Gustavsson: .878 save percentage, 3.78 goals against average
Scrivens: .893 save percentage, 3.21 goals against average
Of course, there is one adjective that comes to mind for Leafs fans when you bring up numbers like that: Toskala-esque. That seems to be the kiss of death for a goalie wearing blue and white. You get compared to that guy, and it’s pretty much over for you and the fan base.
I don’t think Ben Scrivens is in that category just yet. He’s only had three NHL games (two starts), and he didn’t get a whole lot of help in his appearance on Saturday against Boston.
However, just keep this in the back of your mind. On December 22, 2008, Justin Pogge stopped 19 of 21 shots for his first NHL win. He did not record another win, and has not appeared in the NHL since that 08-09 season. He’s a lifetime 1-4-1 with a .844 save percentage and a 4.35 GAA.
I’m not saying that Scrivens is the next Justin Pogge. I think he’s just had the misfortune of playing in two of the Leafs’ worst games this year.
That said, I’m still not positive that him and Gustavsson are capable of shouldering the load for this team over an extended period. Reimer hasn’t been on the ice since Thursday of last week, and nobody seems to have any clue as to when he’ll return from his “concussion-like symptoms.” If Reimer is going to miss an extended period of time, I think it’s time for the Leafs to start considering bringing in a veteran goalie. They need a guy who can put up decent if unspectacular numbers for the next few weeks while Reimer is out, and serve as the backup when Optimus Reim returns.
I say that because I believe Gustavsson’s days here are numbered. It’s highly unlikely he’s claimed on waivers if they try to get him to the AHL (Columbus is the only team that comes to mind as a team that might want him). He’s an unrestricted free agent at the end of the year, and he’ll need a very dramatic turnaround to convince Brian Burke to bring him back into the fold.
Last night on Twitter, I threw out two names the Leafs might want to consider: Marty Turco, and Evgeni Nabokov. The response was pretty mixed. Today, I decided to look into it a little bit more, and see who might be available for the right price.
Marty Turco, free agent, .897 save percentage / 3.02 goals against average / 29 games (2010-11 season)
Turco spent last year with Chicago and lost his starter’s job to Corey Crawford. He didn’t fare all that poorly considering he was in net mostly while the team was getting used to each other after a dramatic overhaul. I’m not sure any goalie would have put up better numbers.
He’s currently training with the Soo Greyhounds in his hometown, but it would take a few practices to bring himself back to NHL speed, I’m sure. This would be the best option in terms of cost. The Leafs wouldn’t have to give anything up, and he would come at a very cheap price. At age 36, he might not have much left in the tank.
Evgeni Nabokov, New York Islanders, .912 save percentage, 2.86 goals against average / 6 games
Nabokov has been slowed by a “lower body injury” this year, but he’s been impressive in his return to the NHL. Quite clearly auditioning to be the starter for a team not located on Long Island, he’s done fairly well. Would be the perfect fit for Toronto because he wants out of New York, and he’s in the final year of his contract. He would serve as a very competent and competitive backup once Reimer is back in action.
Availability: Probably high. He’s the odd man out with the Islanders, since Al Montoya is playing well, and Rick DiPietro isn’t going anywhere any time in the next decade.
Ray Emery, Chicago Blackhawks, .905 save percentage / 2.70 goals against average / 4 games
He’s seen very limited action this year, and the numbers are a bit inflated because he allowed 5 goals in one of those games. I really liked what he did in Anaheim at the end of last season. Like Nabokov, he’s only on the books for this season, and would challenge Reimer for playing time. Showed last year he’s capable of stringing some wins together. He’s only 29 years old, but his miraculously re-constructed hip might be cause for concern.
Availability: It’s probably unlikely Chicago moves him, but they do have Alexander Salak signed to a one-way deal, which means they’re paying him an NHL salary to play in the AHL. Salak out-performed Emery in pre-season but got sent down anyway. I’m sure GM Stan Bowman can be swayed at the right price.
I originally was going to write more about three other options (Michael Leighton, Brian Boucher, and Scott Clemmensen), but upon further review, I think Burke & Co. would rather stick with Gustavsson and Scrivens than try any of those three. They originally made the list because of the possibility of being available. However, there’s a reason why their respective teams might want them gone, and for that, they aren’t likely to be useful in Toronto.
What do you think? Should the Leafs pursue Emery, Turco, or Nabokov? Should they stay the course and pray that Reimer returns sooner than later? Or is there someone I’m missing who you would like to see in blue and white? I’d love to hear back from you, either in the comments section, or on Twitter. I can be found @di_nic.
There were plenty of drama surrounding the Leafs AHL affiliate this past week.
Working on six night’s rest, the Marlies were raring to go Saturday afternoon against the Rochester Americans. Although faltering early in the game, Joe Colborne continued his hot start to the season, scoring 2:28 into overtime to give Toronto a flying 5-4 come-from-behind victory. Colborne’s overtime marker came after Ryan Hamilton and Darryl Boyce scored 34 seconds apart late in the third period to tie the game 4-4. Joey Crabb and Kelsey Wilson had the other goals for Toronto, and goaltender Ben Scrivens stopped 22 shots for the win.
The Marlies were right back at it on Sunday afternoon, although the scoreline wasn’t in Toronto’s favour, falling to the Lake Erie Monsters 5-4 in overtime. It was the second straight night that the Marlies fought back from a two-goal third-period deficit to claw their way into the extra frame. Joey Crabb had two goals to lead the Marlies, while Joe Colborne and Mike Zigomanis also scored. Jussi Rynnas stopped 27 shots, taking the loss.
There are some major positives to draw from the Marlies so far this season:
- Marlies scoring leaders Joey Crabb (6G, 6A) and Joe Colborne (5G, 7A) are second and third, respectively, in the AHL scoring race. They sit one point behind Chris Bourque of the Hershey Bears. Crabb and Colborne are also tied for fourth in league in plus/minus, each with a +6 rating.
- One other Marlie has made it to the Top 20 in AHL scoring: Mike Zigomanis (2G, 7A), sitting 16th.
- Marlies defencemen Matt Lashoff and Marcel Mueller have both started the season strong for their club, each with a goal and four assists to lead all Marlies blueliners.
There are some question marks surrounding the play of few of the Marlies:
- Keith Aulie, who seemed to have a bright future with the Maple Leafs after partnering with Dion Phaneuf for the majority of the second-half of last year’s season, has started this campaign flat. He’s recorded zero points, is a team-worst -5, and only has three shots on goal in six games. He is far from the form Leafs fans grew accustomed with last year.
- Luca Caputi, who at one point was a Leafs top-six forward following the trade which sent Alexei Ponikarovsky to the Pittsburgh Penguins, has only recorded one point with the Marlies this season (1G, 0A).
- In four games played, Ben Scrivens has seen his save percentage slip to .889, well below the .924 he displayed in last year’s campaign.
The Marlies now sit atop their division with a 4-1-1 record, taking points in five of six games played. They pick things up this Wednesday at home against the Abbotsford Heat.
Yes, the season is a long one, but through six games, it looks like the future is bright on The Farm.
I welcome your thoughts.
The Leafs officially kick off the 2011-2012 NHL preseason with a classic clash against the Ottawa Senators. Tonight’s battle features a healthy portion of skill and grit for both teams, as players are vying to earn NHL spots for the coming season. This tilt should be a great game as two rivals square off and begin their prospective campaigns. After the jump we’ll take a look at the lineups, and some other interesting notes for camp.
The Leafs will ice the following lineup tonight:
Clarke MacArthur – Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin
Nazem Kadri – Tyler Bozak – Colby Armstrong
Joey Crabb – Joe Colborne – Matt Frattin
Kenny Ryan – Philippe Dupuis – Jay Rosehill
Keith Aulie – Dion Phaneuf
Jake Gardiner – John-Michael Liles
Carl Gunnarsson – Matt Lashoff
Some notes about the lineup:
- The Leafs look to have two “projected” lines in action tonight. By projected, I’m referring to lines that have been predicted to be together to start the regular season. These two lines are Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski – Nikolai Kulemin and Nazem Kadri – Tyler Bozak – Colby Armstrong.
- The Leafs also appear to be icing the Marlies likely top line for this season, consisting of Joey Crabb – Joe Colborne – Matt Frattin.
- Kenny Ryan‘s appearance on the fourth line tonight likely means he’s considered for AHL duty this season, as he is eligible. It also speaks of how highly the organization regards him. He’s an excellent checker and should do well tonight.
- Philippe Dupuis gets his first chance to impress as he’s anchoring the fourth line tonight.
- Leafs (likely) top pairing of Dion Phaneuf and Keith Aulie get the call tonight, will probably see tons of minutes.
- Jake Gardiner and John-Michael Liles? Interesting combination of speed, skill and offense here.
- Jonas Gustavsson and Ben Scrivens will split time tonight, with Gustavsson getting the initial nod.
Alex Auld, Robin Lehner, Craig Anderson.
Jared Cowen, David Rundblad, Filip Kuba, Tim Conboy, Patrick Wiercioch, Eric Gryba, Erik Karlsson, Mark Borowiecki.
Milan Michalek (LW), Peter Regin (LW), Colin Greening (LW), Zack Smith (C), Bobby Butler (RW), Nikita Filatov (LW), Stephane Da Costa (C), Chris Neil (RW), Mark Parrish (RW), Zenon Konopka (C), Francis Lessard (RW), Mark Stone (RW), Mike Hoffman (LW), Nick Foligno (LW), Mika Zibanejad (C).
This one should be a dandy folks, make sure you tune in to LeafsTV for this one tonight (or by radio!).
The Leafs are changing up their alternate jersey for the upcoming season. If you haven’t already heard, they’ll be using this gem as an alternate. This comes via icethetics.
What are your thoughts on the Luke Schenn extension? You should vote in the latest poll.