Analyzing The Blue and White

It still may be a little bit early to view the full rosters of certain NHL teams, but when looking at the situations that certain teams are in, whether it be financially stricken due to the cap, or in binds with certain contracts and arbitration, one can suspect the upcoming rosters of some teams in the upcoming season. Being a Leaf fan, it seems only necessary that I analyze and then come up with some type of realistic expectation for the Leafs to accomplish. When looking at the upcoming 06-07 Leafs roster at this point and time, it may be safe to say that this is the team that will hit the ice, come opening night of the NHL season. Having a salary cap of 44 million dollars, and being roughly around the 42.8 million dollar mark, we as Leaf fans must realize that there will be no more acquisitions, and the money left over will simply be for wiggle room. (Possible trade deadline deal, injury pick up, etc…)

So in order to analyze the whole Leafs roster it is probably best to start at the back end. Yes of course, the Leafs went out and picked up Andrew Raycroft. And yes of course, Raycroft showed flashes of brilliance and showcasing talent, but with that brilliance and talent came inconsistency and inability to play under pressure situations. Something that Mr. Raycroft will need to work on, being the goaltender here in Toronto. Behind him will be J.S. Aubin, and as the third stringer, Mikael Tellqvist. In my opinion, Tellqvist needs to be traded. He’s to good to be on the Marlies, but not good enough to have a starting position, or even the backup. Let him go…. grab a pick…. free up half a million… and thats that.

When looking at the defence, yes of course, it may have been the only shimmer of hope that we had last year, in that dismal performance we called our NHL season. Everytime an injured Leaf defenceman fell down, one new young one rose to the occasion and played very well. With saying that, in the past years our defence was always suspect, entering the season, at this point, we have addressed the situations with our d-core. Even though Pavel Kubina is overpaid, and Hal Gill is exactly the same as Aki Berg only with some balls, our defence finally looks like it can handle the firepower that teams like Buffalo and Ottawa can bring. Lets not forget one thing however, your defence is only as good as your goalie, and your goalie is only as good as your defence.

The only knock on the Maple Leafs off season may be the fact that they had the finances to go out and attain a proven scoring winger for Mats Sundin to finally play with, but decided to spend the money on defence and goaltending. Maybe John Ferguson Jr. thinks that the Leafs forwards are good enough to compete with the rest of the NHL’s. I personally think we are still lacking on the wings. I mean, after Tucker, Steen, O’Neill and Ponikarovsky, our wingers aren’t exactly consistent threats. Yes Stajan can play, and yes Kilger looked good with Sundin, but its players like Erik Westrum, Jeremy Williams, Ben Ondrus and Bates Battaglia who will be getting some extra ice time with the lack of forwards that the Leafs posess. Down the middle of the ice, we look very promising. It is well known that three of the four forwards will be Sundin, Peca and Wellwood, but for the fourth one, it is a toss up between Antropov, Stajan, or even John Pohl.

The most intriguing part of the Leafs new team however is an individual who will not even be taking the ice during the game. Yes of course, Paul Maurice as the new head coach will be the most exciting acquisition of the new roster. His ability to handle the pressure, his new motto and philosophy of the game, and most importantly the way in which he handles the highs and lows of the season will keep all Leaf fans in constant attentiveness.

Before I make my prediction on what the Leafs will do come Mid April, of 2007, I will make an assumption of the opening night lineup for the buds.

Steen Sundin Ponikarovsky

O’Neill Peca Tucker

Stajan Wellwood Battaglia

Kilger Antropov Ondrus

McCabe Kaberle

Kubina Colaiacovo

Gill Kronwall



Prediction – I personally think that the Leafs will actually make the playoffs, somewhere around the range of 96 points, and good enough for sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

Any responses?

29 Responses to Analyzing The Blue and White

  1. lukeleim says:

    Ponikarovsky played on the left side last year, O’Neill on the right. I dont believe O’Neill and Tucker together would fit well with Peca. Maybe… Tucker – Peca – Stajan.

    I think Ian White will be on the opening roster as well; probably playing along side with Hal Gill.

    I also believe John Pohl will be in the line-up, and westrum over battaglia for sure.

  2. Hoondog2 says:

    Good post!

    I believe the Leafs may surprise some people this year (depending on their goaltending).

    Their depth at foward is reminiscent of Buffalo not so long ago, and their D will be good for the next 10 years at least.

    They may not be cup material this year, but the future looks good!

    They will make the playoffs, and as you know anything goes in the playoffs!

    Go Leafs

  3. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    If a guy gets injured his salary doesn’t count against the cap while he’s injured.

    If Tellqvist plays with the Marlies his salary does not cont against the cap so trading him will not free up room.

    You are missing Antropov in your lineup

    I don’t think this team will have a problem scoring, as there are 12 forwards who can get 10 goals or more goals, and 8 that can get 15 or more goals.

    96 points sounds about right,

  4. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    sorry you’re mssing pohl not antropov

  5. Scottman75 says:

    What about Suglobov?

    I thought that he would have a better chance to make the club than Westrum or Battaglia. Bates might return to form with Maurice as coach but Westrum is more of a depth player.

  6. Wisey says:

    That looks fairly accurate.

  7. Wisey says:

    That looks fairly accurate.

  8. 92-93 says:

    i can see the leafs get 96 points.

    i think the range they will finish in will be between 96 and 84 points and from 7th to 12th in the East.

    my prediction: the leafs will get 92 points and finish 10th.

    but who knows?

  9. Infu says:

    If a guy gets injured, his salary wont count against the cap, but if management decides to go out and pick up a player who may fill in for that position, they may keep the 1.2 million that they have for a potential extra contract.

    The goalie situation is very unassuring right now. Who knows who will play where, chances are that Telly might get some games in if he does play for the Leafs, meaning he isnt traded, therefore some of his contract will affect the Maple Leafs Salary Cap.

    Antropov was a blunder, I did miss him when I was making lineups.

    As for having twelve forwards with ten or more goals, and eight of them having fifteen or more, that seems very optimistic. Perhaps Steen, Sundin, O’Neill, Poni, Tucker and Peca might hit 15 or more, with Antropov and Wellwood on the brink.

  10. ECOLASTIC says:

    First off I think your line up needs a few adjustments, this is the way I would put it!!!!

    O’Neill Sundin Ponikarovsky

    Tucker Peca Kilger

    Steen Wellwood Stajan

    Wilm Antropov Ondrus

    McCabe Kaberle

    Kubina Gill

    Colliacovo White-Bell-Harrison- Wyoznewski



    There is no way that O’Neill will be on the 2nd line with Maurice coaching and if Allison can get Poni movin just imagine him with Sundin.

    2nd line is the line that will face the oppositions #1 they will pound the heck out of them.

    3rd line the NEW AGED KID LINE. have Wilm on the 4th line he adds another good pk guy.

    Last thing there is no way they are going put Gill on 3rd string defence.

  11. mafew says:

    It wouldn’t suprise me if Kaberle and Kubina are paired 5-on-5, they kicked ass together at the olympics.

    Also, Battaglia will not make this roster ahead of Suglobov.

    I personally feel that if Raycroft plays well, the Leafs will make the playoffs, and with the defense core in front of him, he has every reason to excel. That said… who knows

  12. richardtoronto says:

    Good posting. I just had to join to respond.

    Ideally, we’ll see a sophomore jinx year rebound from Raycroft. It will not be the first time, nor the last time that a goaltender has struggled in their sophomore year. Considering the contract issues, and injuries – it is not too hard to fathom that Raycroft just simply "could not get it going" last year – with a team that essentially gave him no confidence at the start. Combine the fact that let’s face it – Boston was not exactly a stellar team (management down..) last year, and Raycroft has an entirely different situation and outlook heading into this year.

    If you dissect last year, overall the team was not that bad – with the exception of Jan – March. Too many times we heard from Quinn – "I don’t know why they weren’t prepared for the game". Doesn’t exactly inspire anyone on his coaching ability. Oddly enough the leafs started to turn it around after some very public benchings. I’m optimistic that this "vacation" will not occur this year, Maurice has never been a coach to "stand pat" – pardon the pun and demands the very best from his players – or you just don’t play. So what’s even more important than the moves that JFJ made, was the ones he didnt – most importantly he removed any obstacles from the team that may hamper Maurice’s approach/style to the way he wants this leaf team to play the game. The boy’s club is over, and Maurice knows very well what youngsters are in the system that could replace a stalling veteran.

    For the first time in a long time that I can remember (and that’s going back quite a few years here) – the leafs have solid 2 D-lines. Depending on the matchups on defense, the leafs have arguably an offensive pairing and a shutdown line, and eager rookies looking for ice time. Yes, they spent alot of money on the top 4 defense – but those pairings are set for the next 3-4 years and can only improve with time – and they will eat up alot of minutes – most likely around 45 minutes or more for the top two pairings. That leaves the leafs room to slowly bring in the rookies / youngsters throughout the year – and either have them as trade potential, or slowly groom them up into capable nhler’s 3 years down the road. Tactically very sound for JFJ and the leafs.

    Up front, well – again, Maurice wont let the forwards take vacations from the game – that is arguably the best wingers that Matts will ever have. My concern is that they have too many lines that are mostly suited for "defensive" roles, and not enough for the attack and quick transition game. I expect Maurice to cover that off with more important roles placed on the younger leafs.

    In regards to the overall team speed, I’ve always pondered why teams are not doing what the edmonton oilers used to do, which was hire power / figure skating coaches to improve on ice skating ability – I recall way back when even Paul Coffey stating how much it helped his on ice mobility. It’s not as if the leafs cannot afford the best training and skills development / enhancement talent out there, and thus, increasing the relative value of the assests.

    I expect the leafs to be a far more consistent and entertaining team this year – and I expect that if they do go through a tough spell, which always seems to happen in January, that Maurice will not let it continue without shaking up the team.

    I would figure a modest gains in points, placing them into the dreadful deadlock of 4/5 in the conference once again.

  13. Grimreaper_11 says:

    westrum will be on the big club, the first year of his contract is a one way deal, the second year is a two way

  14. leafsmarlies says:

    Peca will not be a second line center on this Leaf team. He is a defensive forward. Wellwood put up 45 points in his Rookie season, Peca has only done that 3 times in his 11 year career.

  15. leafsmarlies says:

    Peca will not be a second line center on this Leaf team. He is a defensive forward. Wellwood put up 45 points in his Rookie season, Peca has only done that 3 times in his 11 year career.

  16. MattSpyder86 says:

    Maurice probably asisted in the fact that Battaglia has a contracted with the Leafs,so he will probably crack the line up.

    I hope Kronwall doesn’t make it though. I saw him play twice, and he made some of the hugest mistakes in both of the games. Most notably screaning Belfour thus Leafs getting scored on.

    And personally, I say put Poni with Antrapov, because they both seemed to learn how to play when put togeather.

  17. Pony says:

    Are you serious? why would Gill not be a 3rd string defense? Unless you think hes better than Kubina why would you want two rookies paired together on your third string and why have slow Gill with semi slow Kubina

  18. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    The salary cap consists of the payrolls of the 23 man roster. if telly plays in the minors and is called up, someone has to be called down. that taskes a players salary off the cap, and puts telly’s 600K contract on the cap. the biggest difference it could make is 150K (600K – league minimum 450K)

    If you have 3 tenders who all have a shot at no 1, thats a good thing. Odds are one of them will do well in training camp.

    McCabe, Kilger, Sundin, Tucker, O’neill, Poni, Steen, Stajan, all got 15 goals last season. (not mentioning Peca, Antropov, and Wellwood who may be able to do it this year)

  19. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    92 points is 10th!!!!!

    I don’t think the eastern conference is going to hammer the west like last season, so 92 should be 8th

  20. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    wilm won’t resign, Pohl definetly needs to be there, and Gill’s a third string guy,

    In my oppinion Coli doesn’t have a guaranteed spot. Make Coli, White, Harrison, Kronwall, bell, and woz fight out for the last 2 spots.

  21. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Battaglia will make it ahead of Suglobov. He’s got more experience, and Suglobov is not NHL material. He showed that last year. (minus 3 in 3 games)

  22. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    one way deal doesn’t mean he’s on the roste. If Westrum doesn’t perforem he will play with the marlies

  23. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    Put Peca between them. Antropov – Peca – Poni… thats a solid 3rd line defencively, with offencive talent.

  24. Hoondog2 says:

    Anybody consider how Sundin and Wellwood might play together? I know they’re both centers, but it might be worth a try.

  25. 92-93 says:

    trust me. with all the teams battling there will be at least 10 teams getting 90 points this year (maybe more).

    92 wasn’t good enough for the leafs last year for the playoffs and it wont be this year.

  26. Grimreaper_11 says:

    I know, it means that if the leafs send his to the ahl he is subject to re-entry wavers and then if he clears he earns his nhl salary playing for the marlies

  27. mapleleafs4cup says:

    why do u have our only two left wingers playing right wing?

  28. BLUE_AND_WHITE says:

    If the NHL didn’t give teams a point for losing then 82 would have been enough to get into the playoffs. Last year there were a lot of OT games and the East beat out the west. I think The west will do better this year.

  29. burnz30 says:

    It might work. They are probably the two best offensive guys on the Leafs. They did play a bit together on the PP late last year, and really clicked. I could see them together on the PP, but I think that they’d be better off with Sundin centering line #1 and Wellwood centering #2.

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