Is the hunt for a #1 center over?

The ideal center is big bodied, physical threat. That can move across the ice with unbelievable speed. And top it all off when he gets the puck he can twist and turn around the defense getting the puck to the net weather by himself or by passing to one of his wingers. This man doesn’t exist. But JVR is not that far off from the”perfect center” at least for the leafs. He is rather large, light on his feet and isn’t that bad in the face off circle. (the few times Bozak is thrown out). With 11 goals this year he leads the time as next to Kessel he is the biggest offensive threat they have.

We all know he can certainly get into those dirty areas (bozak never does) and screens the goalie. In fact during his JR career he was a center and it is his natural position. Why do we need another center? Well when lupul comes back he is not gonna have a spot on the first line killing good chemistry with Kessel.

That;s why it is best to have the three of them together! Lupul-JVR-Kessel A perfect first line. > JVR will provide size up the middle that the leafs have lacked for a while along time > Lupul and JVR both have chemistry with Kessel giving him to targets to pass to along with two guys to set him up. Kessel and lupul (before the back surgery ) are consistent thirty goal scorers and in the near future jvr will be one too.Lupul, JVR and Kessel all play with there head, making this line very dangerous. However…… > teams will send there tough guys out to itimidate this line meaning the defensive pairing of Fraser and Franson two fighter” will have to be out there to protect them > the loss of Bozaks faceoff skills means that this line must be responsible in there own end So what I am saying is that the leafs no longer are looking for that “perfect center” because they have him and all they gave up was Luke Schenn.

Michael Lo Giudice



82 Responses to Is the hunt for a #1 center over?

  1. LN91 says:

    I’ll give it a shot…Lupul and Kessel can pass the puck well. Who knows might work well?

    Better then Philadelphia’s old small-center, large and physical wingers plan that Josh thought was effective.

  2. doorman says:

    well I guess it depends on how you wanna view the centre needed. If you want a goal scorer and there is nothing wrong with that, think Jeff Carter. You are however taking that away from the two players mentioned as your wingers are now set up men for your centre. I think finding a passing centre is the best option as we have three natural goal scorers.

  3. blaze says:

    Who wrote this it makes no sense. JVR isnt a center until its proved and what was the line about tough guys?? If teams played their 4th line against that line they’d get scored and and smoked everytime.

    Ha and the two fighters Fraser and Franson (?????). huh?

    • Lucci_101 says:

      fraser is a fighter look at how he played in jersey, franson is his defensive partner and the way JVR plays he good be converted to center (his original position)

    • LN91 says:

      Well, this is what the Leafs have resorted too. They can’t find any, most likely have none in the system, and most likely won’t be able to draft one.

      And until Toronto get’s 1…Enjoy no championships.

      • blaze says:

        Boston just recently won with a deep well rounded team. No first line center like you describe. Tad dramatic.

        • LN91 says:

          Boston is the lone exception…However, Bergeron and Krejci are pretty good in their own end, and skilled. Let alone Bergeron is a former Team Canada player.

          Does Toronto have anyone near that calibre? Not even close.

  4. blaze says:

    Look how he played in Jersey? Hes fought more already in Toronto than he did in NJ. The comment was the two fighters AKA gentle big man Franson.

    JVR never played at center in the NHL so until he proves to be effective at this level he is not a center.

  5. 93killer93 says:

    I wouldn’t really call Fraser a fighter. He’s a stay at home defenseman who will drop the gloves if he has to. In 115 NHL games he has fought 15 times, 5 of those being this season. As for JVR, while he could end up being a good centre just because he played centre doesn’t mean he will automatically be good at it now. He would have a lot more ice to cover.

    • doorman says:

      I like how fraser has played. I really like his second fight against macdermid in the Boston game. He might have lost but thAT SOMEONE WAS ON THE ICE TO ANSWER THE BELL AFTER KESSEL WAS RUN AT IS SOMETHING WE HAVE LACKED. sAME WITH THAT OUR FORTHLINE ISN’T HURTING US WHEN ON THE ICE. to lazy to retype lol. Deterents are much better when on the ice.

    • Lucci_101 says:

      JVR wouldnt just become a center, it would take a couple practises in tht position and maybe slot him there during the power play till he is comfertable there then put as a full time center

    • blaze says:

      Fraser is a fighter just not an enforcer.

  6. Lucci_101 says:

    JVR wouldnt just become a center, it would take a couple practises in tht position and maybe slot him there during the power play till he is comfertable there then put as a full time center

  7. lafleur10 says:

    jvr isn’t a center and won’t be a center for the leafs,he’s a power forward and is made for that role.

  8. leafy says:

    What a frustrating game. I came real close to jumping out the window.

    • toronto77 says:

      Tonight’s game brought back nightmares from last year, playing like they don’t give a shit.

      Carlyle’s biggest challenge is to prevent this type of performance. The 2 games against Carolina and the game against Tampa were horrendous too.

      Lupul and Frattin returning would be huge


      The leafs need Gardiner bad!!! No one on the team right now can carry the puck like he can, they can really use his puck carrying skills.

    • LN91 says:

      I know the Leafs were bad…But I’m actually trying to figure out who was the worst.

      Bozak would be up there, Gunnarsson and Kostka were bad…Phaneuf (as per usual) and Holzer turned the puck over a bunch. Did Kessel have a shot? Grabo took the worst PS of all time…

      Actually, might be easier to find a bright spot. I will go with McClement, McLaren, Scrivens, Brown and Komarov.

  9. toronto77 says:

    How about Colborne as our no.1 centre?

    He is bigger than Bozak and can pass the puck very well. His progression has been slow but his potential is huge.

    There is the potential that young prospects like Ashton, D’Amigo, Ross, McKegg, Percy and Blacker could be traded before they get a chance to make the club. But Colborne should be untouchable because he is the best centremen we have in the system and has good size and skill and centre is our weakest position. Colborne should only be traded if it’s in a package to acquire a real no.1.

    But seriously Colborne should be a given a shot, he played pretty good in the few games he played last season. How about we ease him into no.3 spot?


    Then next season see if he can take the no.1

    I would rather give him a shot and turn out be a crappy player and have his trade value diminish then to watch him flourish somewhere else. It’s possible that the no.1 centre that we are looking for is right under our nose. This one player we should not screw around with, do whatever it takes to develop him properly.

    • Gambo says:

      Colborne is 23 now and he’s not even close to being a point per game player in the AHL. He doesn’t deserve a spot and I don’t think he’ll ever be the number 1 centre on any team.

      Putting Kadri to the wing is another mistake. Watching him play this year makes it obvious that he’s a centre and not a winger.

      • doorman says:

        I am not closing the book on Joe just yet. He played with a hurt wrist most oflast year. Then broke his hand and kept playing. Had off season surgery and things weren’t going well, until he said he heard and felt his wrist “pop”. He thought he had re-injured it but it was the breaking up of scar tissue. SIne that time he has been a PPG player and Eakins has leaned on him heavily.

      • reinjosh says:

        Exactly. Kadri is much, much better in the center spot. I argued this for a long time (and was told it was a stupid idea by a few outspoken few on here). He’s playing so well, why try and fix something that isn’t broke?

  10. Gambo says:

    Since when is Franson a fighter? This article was terrible. The amount of grammatical errors made me want to scratch my eyes out.

    I liked it better when there was maybe an article once a day or even less. Made it easier to follow comments and have conversations.

  11. LN91 says:

    This is how I view the last 5 games:

    -5 games, 4 poor perfromances but managed to get 2 wins.

    – Had 3 key games between teams that they are competing for in a playoff spot (Tampa Bay, Ottawa, Montreal) and lost all 3 of those.

    – All the losses, and even the win against Philly were very poor performances by the skaters. No real urgency or want and they get what they deserve. Do not point out players, because they were all lacklustre…Especially tonight.

    – Not a goalie issue in Toronto…Scrivens was the only reason the Leafs had a chance tonight. But you can only hold on for so long.

    – Do not use injuries as an excuse, last time I checked…I’m pretty sure Ottawa is winning without the best goalie this year, a top-line center, and maybe the best player in the NHL.

    Like I said, it’s okay not to be overly critical because by April…I’m expecting Toronto to be on the outside looking in. They don’t have the compete level that playoffs team have…Hopefully it’s just growing pains and not personnel.

  12. LN91 says:

    Can someone help me with this stat.

    Phaneuf is an impressive -19 in the past 2 seasons…Can anyone find me another defencemen, that is considered one of the better ones in the league, that has a stat similar too that?

    • LN91 says:

      Well, now we know why his ranking is like that -_-

    • leafs_wallace93 says:

      Ummmm, he was playing 30 mins in front of Gustavsson who routinely let in someone of the ugliest goal in league history and Phaneuf plays big minutes against the best players in the league.

      By your +/- logic Mark Fraser is an elite defenseman right now despite the fact that he gets garbage minutes to shut down other teams forth line players.

      Sooooo it’s a meaningless statistic expect when someone wants to exaggerate it’s significance to make a point.

    • leafy says:

      Simple. Phaneuf is easily one of the most over-rated, if not THE most over-rated, defenceman in the NHL.

    • leafy says:

      Forget the last 2 seasons. This year ALONE, after 21 games, he is -9…and that’s with the Leafs in the top 5 in goalie save percentage!!!!

      Compare that to Franson (+12) and Fraser (+16).

      That is NOT a fluke!!

      • reinjosh says:

        Well leafy and LN91 are now officially derpters…

        FOr anyone who doesn’t get that reference, go check of James Mirtle’s twitter account.

        I’ll say this again. Phaneuf isn’t just playing other team’s top players. He’s playing harder minutes than virtually every other defenseman in the entire league. 3rd hardest minutes to be exact. He’s also leading the entire NHL in defensive zone starts. Plus he’s virtually the only dman we currently have playing that can be considered a top 3 or above dman (as in we have no one else who could be adeqetely said to be a top line, or good top 4 dman). Oh and leads the entire NHL in playing time, and time on ice per game.

        For those who are a little confused…it explains the plus/minus perfectly. If anyone honestly thinks Phaneuf is a terrible defenseman, I question your logic processes and sanity.

        • leafs_wallace93 says:

          It’s funny that people that talk about +/- as being important in one breath then ignore context in the next.

          Their is 11 defensemen in the league with more goals than Phaneuf but all other blueliners have a super accurate shot and Phaneuf is lucky if he can hit the net.

          I get that he isn’t Weber or Chara but this scapegoating of Phaneuf is ridiculous. You can tell the fans that just watch highlights and which actually watch hockey.

          Dah… he had a turn over played on a loop on TSN and they were critical of him on the quiz, panic and trade him, give Gardiner his minutes.

        • leafy says:

          Reinjosh, you used to say they should sign Kaberle long term until he’s 40, plus you were a staunch defendeder of the Kessel trade for a long time.

          Deny this all you want, but it’s true.

          So your credibility is not exactly Abe Lincoln level.

      • Lucci_101 says:

        hes -9 cuz every time the rest of the team is playing like shit Carlyle leaves him out for 30 minutes of ice time, cuz no one else is preforming

  13. realistic_leafs_fan says:

    Colborne is still a good prospect although his ceiling is probably 2nd line centre.

    Scrivens has been good, but he causes goals by always wanting to bat the puck away instead of eating up the shots. Too many times he bats away rebounds and it hits someone and goes in. Reimer is still the better goalie, but Scrivens is a very good back-up.

    JVR should be left on the wing and Kadri stays a centre where he always should have been.IMO

    Kessel and JVR need to pick up their game. Kessel looked scared against Philly and somehow, he needs to learn to fight through tough games.

    Last couple of games have not been as good but I believe Carlysle will sort it out.

    More Phaneuf Personally I think he is better than the haters say and not quite as good as the lovers say.

    • doorman says:

      LOL, hey man it is funny you say that about Scrivens, I thought it was only me who thought that. The other night he put that goal in right off of Holzer, IMO.

      Joe as a big 2nd line centre,I am fine with that. Like I said ablove he is playing way better again sionce Christmas. And that he played hurt is a big plus in my books.

      Jvr should be a winger, 3 goal scorers on one line is too many. I know kessel can pass the puck, but still, lol, his job is puck in net.

      Dion is pretty much what you said but thats the problem with players like him, people either love or hate. Fact is though he is a top pairing dman on probably every team in the league. He isn’t untouchable, but his loss would be felt.

      • leafy says:

        Do you guys seriously believe Phaneuf is worth the money he’s getting? Come on man.

        I don’t care what people say that he plays against the top players, that’s what he’s paid for!!!…..he should NOT be -9.

        ALL the top D play against top scorers. What kind of a lame excuse is that?

        • LN91 says:

          Haha, wow. Leafy that post is laughable. Blame Scrivens and the Leafs goalies who are performing aas a duo as one of the best GAA and SV% in the league.

          Phaneuf, who is -9 this year is allowed to have that rating because he plays against the best players in the league.

          What is Keith Yandle’s rating on a bad team? John Carlson? Mike Green? Erik Johnson? Staal? Del Zotto? Byfuglien?

          A few examples of some of the best defenceman on worst teams on the Leafs, who play against other top lines, but can maintain a reasonable +/-.

          Why does this happen for these guys and not Phaneuf?

          Because of this:

          • LN91 says:

            Look at the fourth goal for Montreal last night on Youtube, post wont post.

            Those players, and even Franson/Fraser, just don’t make those mistakes. Nothing to do which lines you play.

          • leafy says:

            Exactly right. And what Leafs fan doesn’t want Phaneuf to do well? As if we have some personal vendetta against him.

            Just sick and tired of hearing excuses for this guy.

          • realistic_leafs_fan says:

            Where in the world do you get I am blaming Scrivens from what I wrote? I said he has been good but his lack of rebound control causes goals. How is that blaming him for loses. Plus I said he is a very good back-up? Man, you are way off base on this. I also said JVR and Kessel have to pick up their game and that the whole team has not been good the last few games. No one was blaming Scrivens. He does cause some goals though…even he admitted it.

        • doorman says:

          I don’t believe any of them are worth what they are getting, period.

      • Lucci_101 says:

        idk how scrivens made the nhl without any goalie coach fixing his EXTREME rebounding problem

        • LN91 says:

          Blame the goalie, typical Leafs fans excuse and scapegoat.

          How about, not getting outshot 29-12 after 2 periods…Start with that.

          • doorman says:

            I am not blaming any one individual. I think Scrivens does give up some bad rebounds that cost goals. He has played well for us thoug. Just as I feel Phaneuf is not a Norris daman, but he plays on the top pairing of almost every team in the League. Last night was just a collective poor effort. And really effort is all I wanna see. If they play hard and finish 9th I can live with that. If they play half hearted and do so i will be pissed at watching a possibly good season be spoiled.

            • LN91 says:

              So, does every other D-Men…Why doesn’t the guys I listed have those numbers from teams that allow more goals and worst then the Leafs.

              Think logically. Toronto was winning when they were reducing Phaneuf’s ice time…Theirs a reason for that.

              • doorman says:

                I am not arguing that, what I am saying is he is between where fans wanna place him. When his time was reduced and he played better, true. However the catch is, usually when a guy sytarts to play better the coaching staff leans on the more. I guess it is a catch 22.

                • leafy says:

                  Doorman, when you say he’s a top pairing D on most teams, what do you base that on?
                  -Sound defensive play
                  -He has “a name”?

                  Based on what?

                  • LN91 says:

                    That’s a valued argument…For me, it’s his name because he once was a great defencemen in Calgary.

                    He’s a 1B and will only play well when you play him with a 1A that will limit his mistakes.

                    • realistic_leafs_fan says:

                      A 1B is still a top pairing defenceman which is what Doorman said. Suter is not as good without Weber. What makes a good number 1 pairing is two #1’s. So yes, Dion would be better with a 1A, as Suter was better with Weber. Personally to me, Phaneuf is a $5-$5.75 max a year -D-man. With the right partner he would be more effective as he could be more wreckless. Do I think we should spend another $5-$7mil a season on a suitable partner and have $11-$13mil tied up in our top D pairing. NO, I don’t.

                  • doorman says:

                    I base it on a few things, one his ability to change a game with a huge hit. Though he has gotten away from that style in Tor. along with his fighting less, it seems. I also base it on his big shot from the point. Add in his reputation and you have a top pairing dman on most teams. You may not agree and that’s fine.

                    • leafy says:

                      Except for the big shot from the point, every single one of those traits can be found in a bottom pair blueliner. And as for the big shot, it’s mostly inaccurate.

  14. doorman says:

    it could be based also on drawing up a list of names for people. Something as simple as do you truely believe there are 60 better dman in the NHL then Dion?

    • leafy says:

      There is absolutely nothing about Dion’s game that is remarkable. I’d ship him out of town for a reasonably reliable forward first chance I get. Gardner and Reilly are the future of the blueline.

      • blaze says:

        So you wanna give up on this season already? As for his inaccurate shot it’s one of the most accurate on the team every year complete myth by Dion haters.

        • leafy says:

          I didn’t say I want to give up on this season. In fact, trading Phaneuf would make the Leafs better.

          Furthermore I don’t see myself as a Phaneuf hater. I see you as a Phaneuf lover.

          • blaze says:

            Oddly ignored the only fact in my comment.

            • leafy says:

              What fact? You mean his shot?
              I already told you, it’s inaccurate.
              Read carefully.

              • leafs_wallace93 says:

                And which defenseman picks the top shelf with a big shot? Is it Al Iafrate? Phaneuf isn’t Al Iafrate so he has to be traded…..

              • blaze says:

                He is the most accurate dman on the team with his shots actually not to mention he blast far more pucks at net the any other dman which should lower his accuracy.

                He took 45 shots so far, 23 on net 8 misses and 14 blocked with 4 goals. Pretty damn good better than anyone TO has.

                Your blind hatred of Phaneuf only let’s you see what you want to see. When you blatantly ignore facts for youre own slanted positions it’s hard to take your judgements on his game seriously.

  15. blaze says:

    So you wanna give up on this season already? As for his inaccurate shot it’s one of the most accurate on the team every year complete myth by Dion haters.

    • leafs_wallace93 says:

      It’s hilarious, Phaneuf is consistently among the leader in defensemen points and hits, play hard minutes but he’s useless because Chara is better?

      This why we can’t have nice things in Leaf Nation.

      • Gambo says:

        hahaha that last line says it perfectly.
        No matter who we have, they will never be good enough for the majority of leaf fans.

        I’m personally a big fan of Phaneuf. The reason is because I don’t expect him to be a norris trophy winner.

  16. leafs_wallace93 says:

    For all the Phaneuf hate it’s boils adown to whining about him being overpaid because he’s a 1B?

    1B defensemen get paid between 5-5.75 million a year and Phaneuf makes 6.5? So all this whining over an arguably wasted 1.5 million?

    Forget Garbovski’s contract, forget Komisarek, Liles, Lupul’s (he got overpaid for one good year IMO) the problem is Phaneuf’s 1.5 overpayment? Pfft…..

  17. toronto77 says:

    Seriously, what’s up with the leafs not calling up Gardiner yet? He is clearly ready. Here is my plan:

    Call up Gardiner to play with Phaneuf. They can support each other. Gardiner’s mobile ability will take a ton of pressure off of Phaneuf and he can strictly focus on being a stay at home d-man(which is what he is). Gardiner may not be a big guy, but playing with a guy like Phaneuf will open space for him.

    Phaneuf is a no.2 d-man, he can be what Pronger was to McInnis in St.Louis and what Pronger was to Niedermayer in Anaheim and what Stevens was to Niedermayer in New Jersey etc…

    That is the type of d-man that Phaneuf should be, he has no business crossing the offensive blue-line by more than 4ft, and just wait for a cross ice pass from Gardiner for his big shot.

    I am probably one of the biggest Phaneuf bashers on this site, but I think playing with a guy like Gardiner will help him out a lot.

    Also, we all know that Kessel needs a no.1 centre to dish him the puck, how about Gardiner dishing it to him whenever he gets a chance to bring the puck up ice?

    Bottom line, Gardiner needs to be called up, bad!

  18. leafs_wallace93 says:

    I love when Leaf Nation decides something and reality can’t get in the way of their arm chair GMing. Gardiner needs to be our top blueliner (though he’s still rehabbing on the Marlies), a year ago Kadri was a busted prospect that we need to just ship out (I’m guilty of criticizing Kadri now I’m eating humble pie, I’d rather Kadri’s upside right now than O’Reilly’s), McCabe was a bad defensemen so that means Phaneuf will suck too (though Phaneuf is out playing guys like Weber this season, maybe Weber is a 1B after all and can’t do it without Suter), every season is a failure if we don’t get a 1st overall pick…..

    The script has to play out as I wrote it in my mind or the Leafs are doing it wrong.

  19. leafy says:

    Interesting that many of you licking Phaneuf’s balls are also the ones who claimed Kaberle was an elite defenceman while in his final year with the Leafs.

    Very interesting deja vu.

    • leafs_wallace93 says:

      Because Kaberle never played good hockey for us, we got two first and a second for him because he was terrible in Toronto.

      Make one good point instead of whining…

    • Gambo says:

      Kaberle WAS a pretty good defenseman. Sure as hell wasn’t in his last couple seasons with the leafs, but he did have his years. 3 years in a row with at least 53 points (67, 58, 53) is pretty damn good.

      • leafy says:

        Gambo, I KNOW he was great previously. But in his last year here, he clearly lost a step and a mere shadow of his former self.

        And a year earlier, I vividly recall they wanted him signed long term until he’s 40 years old!!!!!!

        That’s how some HTR users operate…they’re proven 100% wrong, and then they still find balls to argue!

  20. toronto77 says:

    What do the leafs do on defence?

    They have 9 d-man if you include Gardiner.

    Phaneuf isn’t going anywhere

    Fraser and Holzer are fine where they are as 5th and 6th d-men

    Gardiner is a huge offensive boost

    That leaves 2 spots for 5 players that are more than capable of being regulars in this league.

    Gunnarsson I think will stay, he has good size and is a very simple defencemen, and does all the little things that carlyle loves

    Franson has a good shot from the point, probably has the most accurate shot on defence. moves the puck fairly well and is a great 2-way defence man

    Kostka I am not really big on, but is also playing a very simple game. Not a lot of speed but is a big body and plays well defensively.

    Liles is strictly a mobile defenceman and can be replaced by Gardiner and possibly next season with Rielly.

    Komisarek is a decent 7th d-man for now but he is almost on his way out anyway.

    Personally I would move out Liles and Kostka. Liles I think everyone can agree on but some people would replace Kostka for either Gunnar or Franson. Franson probably has the best trade value but I think is still a pretty important young player.

    I don’t why this team is so big on Kostka, personally I would move him out before Gunnar and Franson, but I have a feeling Nonis would trade Gunnar and Franson before he thinks about moving Kostka.

    The leafs definitely need to move AT LEAST 2 of these d-men, they are good d-men and deserve to be playing every game, it’s just too overcrowded, NINE d-men! lol are you kidding me?

    I would put pressure on a team that is desperate for d-men and package of these and players for another big power forward or maybe a centremen.

    That leaves the leafs with 7 d-men. Komisarek can step in if there are injuries, and if there are more injuries than perhaps Blacker can step in for a couple games, it’s about time he got a little look.


    • leafs_wallace93 says:

      Nonis likes being at least 9 deep, I don’t see any urgency until we’re on a losing streak. Even if we move a couple blueliners out, we’ll find replacements especially when it comes to 5th-9th spot. Every year in Toronto we crucify our top two defensemen and over praise our bottom four and depth blueliners.

      • doorman says:

        Kostka is a UFA at seasons end, so unless he is signing cheap, i have no interest. I would prefer to move him as opposed to other dmen we have but I am ok with trading any dman not named Gardiner or Rielly. These two young players need to be kept, whether you feel they are gonna be #1’s or overrate. They are part of the future, which by the way Carlyle has them playing is sooner then i expected to be honest.

        • leafs_wallace93 says:

          It’s Nonis’ hang up, I’d prefer being six deep and leave a spot open for Marlies to contend for during injuries. How depressing must it be for a guy like Gysber (I like him) or Blacker to see that they have to instantly be better than a vet like Liles just to get a cup of coffee in the bigs?

          I think the best thing to do with Rielly and Gardiner is just to forget about them and let them surprise everyone. This fanbase is horrible on blueliners for setting up impossible standards then turning on a player when they don’t meet them. I would love to see the Leafs finally develop their first round prospects (ala Kadri, love to see him breakout) but high hopes too early will be counter productive IMO.

          • doorman says:

            Best thing that could happen to Rielly next year is to go back to Jr. and play in the WJHC again. I think Nonis will encourage this, however I must say i would have to trust Carlyle if he thought that the kid was ready. I have no problem bringing him along a little slower and having him develop. We are always rushing prospects trying to sell fans on the hype surrounded by our next saviour.

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