Rumor Focus: Toronto Maple Leafs

The Toronto Maple Leafs entered December with a record of 14-9-2, having avoided a repeat of the early meltdown that doomed their playoffs hopes last season, and were ranked among the top eight clubs in the Eastern Conference.

December, however, proved a cruel month, with the Leafs winning only four of 13 games, sliding out of a playoff spot for the first time this season.

Not even a 7-3 drubbing of the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first game of the new year helped them gain ground in the standings.

The Leafs struggles over the past month have Toronto fans and media understandably nervous about the team’s chances of making the playoffs for the first time since 2004.

Injuries, of course, have contributed to the recent decline.

The Leafs were able to find ways to win in November, despite losing goaltender James Reimer, defenseman Mike Komisarek, centers Tim Connolly, Mikhail Grabovski and Matthew Lombardi, right wingers Mike Brown and Colby Armstrong, and left winger Clarke MacArthur at various times.

But as the injuries piled up, it finally took a toll in December. As many of those players returned to action, others (defenseman John-Michael Liles and center Tyler Bozak) were sidelined or re-injured (Armstrong).

Goaltending has become a problem area. Reimer was considered the starter at the beginning of the season, but a head injury sustained in an Oct. 22 game against Montreal knocked him out of the lineup for 18 games. He’s struggled to regain his form since returning, posting only three victories in December.

Backup Jonas Gustavsson, meanwhile, failed to seize the opportunity to finally prove himself a capable NHL starting goalie.

As a result, the Leafs entered the new year with the third-worst combined goals-against average and the sixth-worst save percentage. Only the Ottawa Senators, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning have given up more goals.’

41 Responses to Rumor Focus: Toronto Maple Leafs

  1. albertateams says:

    Off topic but that Flames Bruins game last night might have been exactly what was needed to force organizational changes. As much as I think Sutter is a good coach his time with the Flames is done. It is clear the players have tuned him out. The Flames should have Hartsburg or Lowry be the intern coach until the end of the season then find the permanent replacement in the offseason. Between now and the trade deadline everyone should be available for the right price, I don't think players should be given away but if a decent return is available they have to go.

  2. reinjosh says:

    I hope so. I don't know if you saw my post a couple days ago but I'm starting to get the feeling that Feaster is just trying to ride out the year. Grab a top 10 pick, have Baerstchi come up and things look a little better next year. I really hope thats not the case and last nights game changes things, but I feel like that was the plan before.

    I agree about almost everyone being available. I'd like to keep Glencross and Brodie and that's pretty much it (Iggy of course but if the price is right, I'm down to trade him). 
    And Chris Butler. Minus friggin 7. Worse minus since Doug Wilson still played back in 1993. 
  3. Boston_Bruins says:

    That was ugly for sure. You could tell the Flames completely gave up right away and the Bruins ran up the score because they've been conditioned to play the full 60 after that Flyers series collapse.

    If that doesn't force changes I don't know what will.
  4. Boston_Bruins says:

    I can't believe Brodie played 25 minutes and ended up even. It's pretty damn hard to stand out as a positive in a 9-0 loss.

  5. Boston_Bruins says:

    I'm surprised at how happy I was that the Swedes pulled out the win. I've built up alot of hatred towards the Russians the past couple years.

  6. dumbassdoorman says:

    They deserved to win as they played very well. However I felt bad for Makarov, he was a true force in net….what a game.

  7. lafleur10 says:

    i agree man,but man do the russians ever have alot of skill and very good players1 yakupov,grigorenko and kuznetsov will be superstars! every year they have guys like this too i wonder where them keep finding these guys!

  8. albertateams says:

    After the third goal they mailed it in. Just embarrassing for any professional to give up like that.

  9. albertateams says:

    Yeah I think that plan is changing fast. Although I still think Kipper goes before Iggy but anybody for the right price. There are guys I would like to keep (Brodie, Sven, Backlund, Reinhart, Irving) but if the right deal comes along the flames shouldn't hesitate. The quickest way to a top five pick is moving Kipper.

    Rough night for Butler for sure but I actually haven't minded his play this year. He's not a top pairing guy but a 3-5 D man seems likely. Even after last nights -7 he's only -4 on the year, considering how bad the teams play has been its actually respectable.

  10. dumbassdoorman says:

    what else is there to do in Siberia? lol…and all there good looking women are on the net looking for hubbies soooooo

  11. lafleur10 says:

    hahaha that's very true!

  12. Boston_Bruins says:

    Oh man, the Canucks are coddling Luongo by sitting him in Boston when he's coming off a shutout. I'll be fully expecting the "Where's Luongo?" chants to start up.

  13. reinjosh says:

    No kidding. Dude is looking nice. 

  14. reinjosh says:

    Yeah the prospects are obviously probably untouchable (of course barring a unforeseen good deal for one). I'm not a big Backlund fan though. I'd be fine moving him. I just don't see what everyone else does. 

  15. albertateams says:

    I'm not opposed to moving Backlund for the right deal, but I'd prefer to keep him. He's had a rough year, I think it really hurt his development and confidence when he was out early with the broken finger. I still think he will develop into a solid 2nd line center/wing. He shows spurts where you see his offensive creativity, its just a question of whether he can put it all together consistently. That being said if he needs to be included to get a top line prospect you pull the trigger.

  16. reinjosh says:

    Getzlaf. We're all salivating at the opportunity to go after him. We all recognize the reasons to get him. But what if the price is to steep? What if Murray is asking for so much it will actually hurt us rather than help us?

    What if Burke is content to go after Bobby Ryan to try and develop two deadly lines that are balanced. our issue isn't really scoring as much as it is consistently doing it and defense. If Kessel or Lupul gets injured, we're screwed unless Grabo-MacA-Kulemin can step up somehow. 
    So assuming the price to grab Getzlaf is too high, do we go after Ryan? The price is apparently a now player, a future and a pick? Would you give up Kulemin and Colborne/Kadri, pick? 
  17. dumbassdoorman says:

    In a word YES!!!!! for either…..I would give up more for Getzlaf and expect to have to

  18. hockeylegend488 says:

    That would be hugh. getlaf and kessel would have immediate chemistry , i like how lupul is playing but im not sold on him long term 

    things are gonna heat up soon and i see LA kings being the most active team especially now that there winning a bit 
  19. DannyLeafs says:

    I watched a bit of the Bruins game last night, and oddly enough I predicted the score was gonna be 9-0 Bruins. Before anyone says there is no way I predicted that, let me preface by saying that I just chose that score cause it was the exact score required for the Bruins to give the Bruins a 2:1 GF v GA ratio.

    The Bruins may be playing the best hockey of any team in the last decade these past 25 games or so. I mean they average about a 6 goal victory a week. It's crazy how deep this team is. They have only one player that is paced to crack 70 points, and could very well have no one crack it, but they have 9 guys who are paced to crack 50 points, 7 paced to crack 20 goals.

    One thing I have noticed, and it's not a knock on the Bruins team, but they apparently give up a ton of shots for a team that seems to have the puck all night. I haven't watched a ton of Bruins game this year, and I have no idea if the tracking can really be different from building to building, do the Bruins really give up that many shots? or is the score keeper trying to help Timmy and Rask break records?

    I don't know if shot tracking is the same as other stats like hits and blocked shots, where a team has a individual tracker that could be just plain trigger happy, but when you look at the Bruins over the past few seasons it starts to make sense. They have typically been one of the best defensive teams, but seem to rank amoung the most shots against. They always have a goalie leading the league in Save Percentage, (right now they are 1 & 2), and even when Thomas was being written off and was losing confidence from the coaching staff he had what was considered a very good save percentage.

    Just wondering if it seems to be a bit of inflation in shot totals, or do the Bruins simply play a style that facilitates a lot of low percentage shots against with very few good scoring chances. Either way, it seems a great place to play for a goalies numbers. Not taking away anything from Thomas, he deserved both Vezina trophies and the Conne Smythe.

  20. Boston_Bruins says:

    It's an interesting question. I can definitely see why you'd think that the goalies stats are very inflated if you watched that Calgary game last night. All Calgary was doing was shooting from the outside. In a more general sense, however, their defensive play isn't THAT good. It does inflate the goalies stats because the Bruins D do keep alot of shots to the outside, and are very rarely pinned down in their own zone where the other team reels off a bunch of quality opportunities, but Thomas and Rask still manage to make a few dandies every game. As for the Bruins stats keepers crediting too many shots, it's possible, but I don't think all too likely. Sometimes I am surprised at what the shot tally is at the end of the game though.

    As for the Bruins themselves, I'm just enjoying the ride right now. I have always had a complaint or at least a whipping boy, but I just don't have one right now. Pouliot and Corvo looked rough at the start of the season, but now they've done a 180. I have to give Julien a ton of credit because he's managed to get everybody to buy into the system and everybody sticks up for one another. It doesn't look like anybody is complaining about the split up ice time, and Rask's comments seem to suggest he completely understands his role right now.
    The biggest thing I've noticed this season is puck movement and the transition game. The puck seems to be on a string most of the time, which is strange considering the personnel. It's not like the Bruins are known for having the most creative and skilled passers. The defense have great chemistry with one another and all the lines play great off one another.
    I know this isn't sustainable for the whole year, and we've been remarkably lucky with the injury bug this year and last year (outside of Savard) but I really couldn't be happier with the make up of this team.
  21. TheLeafNation91 says:

    It's interesting because Toronto is the fourth best scoring team in the league.

    However, the major difference between them is Boston plays defence and they do it well. Toronto, on the other hand, does not have great defensive players and a horrible PK which kills them in the end.

    This is where the divide happens. If a defensive team can score goals and lots of them, watch out.

  22. NonLeafFansAreGay says:

    Canada should have had it.

    In Hockey:
    Canada > Russia > USA > Sweden = Finland > Czech = Slovakia
    nuff said
  23. Steven_Leafs says:

    Canada had a really good chance but I don't think they were the best team this year. We didn't get any of our superstars back for this tournament, and the undisciplined play against the Russians showed our lack of skill and leadership. In fact I think a lot of people had Sweden / Russia in the gold medal game. But damn I wish we finished that comeback against the Russians though, such a great effort and if we played that strong 40 minutes earlier we would have won.

    Also I wouldn't quite rank the countries that way for the world juniors, based on the history I would rank them like this for any given year:

    Top Group:


    Group 2:

    Czech Republic

    Group 3:


    Group 4(more like group 400 but whatever):

    All those teams that get promoted from Division I.

    If you check the total medal count for the World Juniors this is actually an accurate rank up.

    All that being said: Canada should have had it.


  24. Steven_Leafs says:

    we need our veterans back on the blueline. BADLY. The kids have some serious skill and great upside but they are still young and prone to mistakes. Also if Gustavsson can keep playing like that we shouldn't have much of a problem.

  25. dumbassdoorman says:

    Too many if's is our problem….and frankly these guys are pissing me off….lol. All I want is for them not to win another game so as we can fire Wilson and we go on a small winning streak, WTF? Gus is playing pretty well and good on him, but not sure he can keep it up?  

  26. toronto77 says:

    Apparently when trading either Ryan, Getzlaf or Perry. Murray is going to be asking for quality back for quality, he does not want any picks or prospects back for them, he wants to make a push for the playoffs next year. This could make it tough for them to be traded, since teams that are making the playoffs only intend on trading picks or prospects and can't afford to trade quality roster players because it's not a step forward, it's a lateral step that may or may not make their team better for the playoffs.

    So if Murray is going to trade one of those 3 guys to the leafs, is he going to be asking for Kessel? Our top line could probably be Lupul-Getzlaf-Kadri. I DO NOT want to trade Kessel. Their is no one on this team that compares to what he does but the closest players we have to a Kessel is Kadri. But if Getzlaf is setting up Kadri than maybe Kadri doesn't have to work as hard.

    I would stick with what we have and not pursue any of those 3 guys. We don't have to win the cup this year, just getting into the playoffs will make the next upcoming seasons a little less pressured, and give more experience to our younger players.

  27. reinjosh says:

    Canada lost bro. Coulda, woulda, shoulda.

    Russia came down hard on Canada and they deserved that win. They held on when Canada came back and staved off any late game heroics. In my books that's pretty much the definition of a win (not to mention they actually advanced and Canada didn't). 
    Sweden also deserved that win. They were magnificent. And the US blew their shot. They were just terrible. 
    The 4 best teams were the teams that placed 1 – 4. The Czech's were more their goalie in my opinion. 
  28. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I would ride Gus until he falters.

    I still believe Reimer will be our number 1 still anyway next year. I'm not holding a sophmore slump against him because we've seen many Leafs struggle in their year after their breakout campaign and bounce back after their used to the tough season.

    I feel like this occurs when players start midway through the season and not begin, so they think they know how a season is, and gets screwed over the next one.

  29. reinjosh says:

    I agree. Why not give Gus a confidence boost. Make it clear to Reimer he's still number one but he needs to prove he can be it by playing better. If Gus finally shows us why Burke went after him, things are only going to get better for us

  30. Steven_Leafs says:

    I don't think Murray meant that he would only trade his top 3 for a player like Kessel (obviously he will take Kessel if he is offered), I think all he meant was that he wasn't going to take a prospect or draft pick as the key piece of the deal. Think of the Carter / Richards deals, he wont do those.

    For example, there was a rumor out there of Perry for Raymond, Ballard, and a 1st or Hodgson. Assuming this rumor was accurate and Anaheim was interested, Murray would take Raymond, Ballard and Hodgson (quality for quality, no picks or prospects that will take 2-4 years to develop), he will not take that 1st round pick if he can get a quality player like Hodgson.

    He also wouldn't trade Ryan to Columbus for a potential lottery pick as another example.

  31. TheLeafNation91 says:

    Forgot to mention, but Tthe only Leaf prospect in the World Juniors, ends up winning Gold. Not to mention, was on the ice for the winning goal.

    Congragulations Petter Granberg.

  32. reinjosh says:

    It's a sign ;P

  33. dumbassdoorman says:

    The second one I disagree with, I think he would trader Ryan for a shot at a lottery pick. Clb, if he made that trade closer to the deadline would still probably be a 3rd overall or better.

  34. Boston_Bruins says:

    Hopefully the refs won't be as bad as they were in the Bruins game today. i miss Playoff hockey.

  35. TheLeafNation91 says:

    That Burke should just continuing draft Americans, Canadians and Swedes? lol

  36. 93killer93 says:


    Perron, Stewart. Schwartz, Della Rovere, Pietrangelo
    Grabovski, Kulemin, Frattin, Mikus, Gysbers Franson, 1st, 2nd
    Hamilton, Doherty
    Crescenzi, Holzer
    Getzlaf, Holland
    Perron, Colborne, Bozak, Gunnarsson, Della Rovere
  37. reinjosh says:

    That's a pretty bad trade for St Louis. Like really bad.

    I'd say Kulemin and Stewart are a wash at this point. And Perron is probably a wash with Grabovski wit his concussion issues. 
    But I just don't see what St Louis gets out of trading away their number 1 in Pietrangelo and their best (arguable but Scwartz and Tarasenko are probably top 10 prospects in the league) got Frattin, Franson and a 1st. I would love it but I don't see why. Plus Perron's upside is pretty damn high even with his injury concerns. 
  38. reinjosh says:

    I was getting at Leafs bein gold this year haha

  39. reinjosh says:

    Shane Doan with his first career hat trick! Congrats! Good old Albertan boy! (His Dad is pretty cool, owns a ranch in Calgary). Ridiculous blood lines that family has too. Doan and Carey Price are second cousins, Keaton Ellerby (Florida Panthers) and him are cousins. He's also related to Catrina Le May Doan but through marriage.

    Also in 2012, the Leafs penalty kill is a perfect 100 percent. Crazy but true. And Kessel and Lupul are the two most consistent offensive players in the league. Who would have thought
  40. Steven_Leafs says:

    I dont know, I mean I do think he would trade Ryan for 1st or 2nd overall no problem, but I dont think Murray risks only getting a 5th-7th overall pick for Ryan.

  41. DannyLeafs says:

    Like I said, not taking anything away from Thomas. He is one of my fave goalies, and I am glad he is getting the respect he deserves. However, I do think that a .940 save percentage for Boston isn't the same as an equally high save percentage for a lesser team. If Lundqvist keeps up his play, I would really hope he finally gets a vezina. Insanely talented and consistent goalie to have never won a Vezina, and he is having the type of year that garners it (so far).

    The team has a great make up, and it works so much to their advantage as they don't have a superstar on the team (outside of Chara) who is going to command a 6+ million salary.

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