Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Odds are Cody Franson will be moved before the March 2 trade deadline unless the Toronto Maple Leafs have a change of heart on what they’re willing to agree to contract-wise with the pending UFA blueliner.
The Leafs and Franson’s agent Gerry Johansson chatted last week. Toronto expressed willingness to do something in the neighborhood of three years and around $4.4 million to $4.5 million a year.
That’s just not going to cut it for a defenseman of his ilk who knows he can get six to seven years on the July 1 market at easily north of $5 million...
There are a lot of teams interested in him, including the likes of Detroit and Los Angeles, both in need of a top-four, right-handed defenseman. Nashville is another team we heard has expressed some interest. Of course the Predators drafted Franson, so there’s some history there. They know the player.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Toronto produced just 16 goals in 13 January games — five of which came in the only victory it registered all month. That average of 1.23 was slightly worse than what the St. Patricks had in February 1927 (1.25) and the rebranded Maple Leafs had in January 1929 (1.31), which happens to be the last NHL season before the forward pass was introduced.
This is a team with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri at forward and offensively-minded Cody Franson, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner on defence. It is a flawed group, one that will again miss the playoffs, but there was absolutely nothing to forecast the depths of futility it would mine during an ice-cold January.
As a collective, the Leafs managed just a 4.2 shooting percentage while actually playing a style more conducive to success than they did under previous coach Randy Carlyle. They have cut down significantly on the number of chances against while generating shots at a similar rate to when they were the NHL’s highest-scoring outfit.
Toronto might not be very good, but it is clearly not very lucky either.
This poses some difficult questions for Brendan Shanahan and a revamped Leafs front office whose lone holdover from the collapses of the past three seasons is Dave Nonis. Four weeks out from the March 2 trade deadline, how drastic should the changes be? How much stock should be placed in the results of the last month? Is it time to start some form of rebuild?
Because the Leafs are not the Buffalo Sabres or the Edmonton Oilers. They have far more high-end (and high-priced) talent than the bottom feeders and as they proved for a stretch before the current collapse, they are capable of sustained success. Phil Kessel, bless his fat and lazy soul, is a talent. He’s even a durable talent, out there night after night, perhaps because he doesn’t wear himself out backchecking. But he’s the Carmelo Anthony of the NHL, an entitled coach-killer whose tantalizing potential only makes the annual disappointment more bitter.
While Kessel and Dion Phaneuf have led Toronto down the garbage chute, the Canadiens have climbed into more-or-less secure membership in that group of the league’s elite, the teams with genuine Stanley Cup ambitions. They blew a chance to move into first place in the Eastern Conference on Sunday with that 3-2 loss to Arizona, but the Habs are still right there, a point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning with two games in hand.
-Jack Todd at the Montreal Gazette where you can read more on the Leafs and Canadiens.
from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,
It has become pretty clear that Maple Leafs management dropped the ball when they fired Randy Carlyle on Jan.6.
That’s one victory in 11 games since Carlyle was axed.
Say what you want about the Leafs under Carlyle, but at least they were in position to make the playoffs, or at least fight for a playoff spot. Why didn’t Dave Nonis and Brendan Shanahan wait until the end of the year before deciding on what to do with their coaching situation?
Saturday’s 1-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers — a team that certainly doesn’t look like world beaters — represents the Leafs’ ninth straight loss, and fourth time in January they were shut out. Some fans are taking some kind of pathetic joy in the defeats, something about how it’s all a big tank job to get a better draft pick.
added 9:01am, from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
Ten games into the Peter Horachek era, the Maple Leafs have one win. They’re averaging a meagre 1.4 goals a game.
And after Thursday night’s 3-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes, they should have zero delusions about the reality of another squandered season. Fifty games into the campaign, Toronto’s NHLers find themselves 10 points removed from the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Going back to 1993-94, when the NHL moved to a conference-based playoff format, no team has overcome a double-digit deficit this late in an 82-game season to earn a berth in the Stanley Cup tournament.
Given the Leafs’ current list of problems — they only can’t score a goal and also can’t stop enough — it’s difficult to imagine them becoming the first.
Brendan Shanahan, in other words, can feel free to unveil the Shana-plan. Everything that’s done from this day forward should be about building for the seasons ahead, not the season at hand, even if more than three agonizing months lie ahead before the local heroes can count themselves free to take the ceremonial playoff-time fishing trip.
Oliver Ekman-Larson with a 'blooper' of a goal...
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
Maybe the Toronto Maple Leafs are playing better under Peter Horachek and perhaps there will eventually be a payoff for their improved defensive play, but right now it's painful to watch.
The Maple Leafs lost their seventh consecutive game, this time 2-1 in the shootout to the New Jersey Devils. That's how bad it's has gotten: the Devils team that couldn't buy a shootout win last season beating the Leafs in shootouts.
Toronto team president Brendan Shanahan was in attendance and, if nothing else, he's learning a lot about his team during this stretch with the only reasonable conclusion that they are much worse than we originally thought.
read on for Burnside on Hawks/Kings, LeBrun on Spezza returning to Ottawa, Strang on the Capitals and Powers on the Blackhawks...
added 3:50pm, Reports say Phaneuf was injured on Ottawa, perhaps in a fight. Watch below...
from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,
Phaneuf doesn’t have an easy contract to move because he’s being paid like a franchise defenceman despite the fact he isn’t playing like one. His salary cap hit is $7 million annually until 2021, which means if the Leafs were to move the 29-year-old, they might have to retain some salary to get a deal done — depending on what Dave Nonis and Co. get in return.
Anaheim Ducks: This one might seem like a long shot, but consider this: Ducks GM Bob Murray has made 13 separate trades with the Maple Leafs since 2009. Francois Beauchemin is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and the salaries of Sheldon Souray, Eric Brewer and Ilya Bryzgalov are coming off the books at season’s end. The Ducks will have room on the blue line and money to spend. Phaneuf could do great things playing beside Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen or Cam Fowler – three of Anaheim’s outstanding young defencemen. Phaneuf would also add some muscle to complement a smooth-skating defensive corps.
Potential trade chips: Matt Beleskey, Devante Smith-Pelly, Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore, Nick Sorensen
four more trade destinations...
13:49 Toronto Dion Phaneuf - Fighting - 5 minutes
13:49 Toronto Dion Phaneuf - Slashing - 2 minutes
13:49 Ottawa Milan Michalek - Slashing - 2 minutes
13:49 Ottawa Milan Michalek - Fighting - 5 minutes
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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