KK Members Blog
The NHL draft will begin on Friday and it is a chance for every team to have some hope about their future. This draft is very interesting because after Nail Yakupov (the consensus number one pick) there are a plethora of differing opinions among experts and scouts as to where players should be rated. This makes an exercise like a mock draft very difficult, but also a lot of fun.
I am not considering any potential trades in my mock draft as that is just too difficult to predict. Seeing as the number one pick is definitely in play I think we are going to see plenty of action at the Consol Energy Center on Friday night.
The Toronto Marlies had a great season and although they were swept in the Calder Cup final on the weekend, they had an excellent playoff run as well. What is most impressive with the Marlies playoff run is that they have done it with a minimal amount of AHL “veterans”. Other than Mike Zigomanis, the rest of the squad is made up of legitimate NHL prospects.
The Marlies great run is getting Leaf fans thinking about how their success might translate to the big club next year. There have been some recent cases where AHL success from the previous season appeared to help the NHL clubs with big improvements the following season. Most recently the Ottawa Senators jumped up 18 points in 2011-12 after their affiliate, Bighamton Senators, won the Calder Cup in 2010-11 and the Montreal Canadiens had a 14 point jump in 2006-07 after the Hamilton Bulldogs won the Calder Cup in 2005-06.
I decided to look back at 18 seasons from 1991-92 to see how NHL teams fared the year after their AHL affiliate played in the Calder Cup finals. I used difference in points from the previous season as my criteria for judging “improvement” at the NHL level.
This is the final article in a series looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth by position. Thus far I have completed my review of goalies, defensemen, centermen, and left wingers, which leaves us with right wingers to finish things up. As I stated in my previous articles, most forwards can play multiple positions and often do throughout a season. I will do my best to categorize players as centers, left wingers or right wingers. For example, I am including Nazem Kadri in the right winger evaluation. Although Kadri plays center with the AHL Toronto Marlies, he has almost exclusively been a right winger in his stints with the Maple Leafs, which suggests that he will be a winger at the NHL level.
Right Wingers on 2011-12 roster:
Second of a two-part preview of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
History: The New Jersey Devils boast three Stanley Cups (1995, 2000, 2003) and plenty of experience. Although goalie Martin Brodeur is the only player on the roster to win all three titles, Patrik Elias has captured the last two. According to Puck Daddy, the Devils are the best No. 6 seed in Eastern Conference history, and one of only three to crack the century mark (the others being these same Devils in 2004 and the Rangers in 2006, both of which had 100 even). Furthermore, while the team’s trapping system has changed, its building blocks of defense and goaltending have not.
First of a two-part preview of the 2012 Stanley Cup finals.
History: The L.A. Kings are in rarefied air for many reasons. It’s only the second Stanley Cup finals berth in franchise history. Second, they’re only the second No. 8 seed to ever reach the finals (the other was the 2005-06 Edmonton Oilers, who lost in seven games to the Carolina Hurricanes). Thirdly, this is only the fourth time that a team from California has reached the finals; the other two berths were by the rival Anaheim Ducks, who won the Cup in 2007 and lost in the 2003 finals to the New Jersey Devils. The Kings are undefeated on the road this postseason (8-0), becoming the first team to go unbeaten away from home on the way to the finals. Finally, this is the lowest combination of seeds (the Devils are the No. 6 seed) in the Stanley Cup finals since the NHL switched to the current format for the 1994 postseason. (It’s hard to determine official conference seeding before then.)
This past week, Bob Mackenzie indicated on TSN Radio that the Maple Leafs would not be interested in goaltender Roberto Luongo. This seems to be a sentiment echoed throughout the media and I happen to agree with it. Don’t get me wrong, I think Luongo is a great goalie and will be good for the next five years at least, I just don’t think the Maple Leafs are interested in someone of his age with that type of contract.
About a month ago I posted an article suggesting that the Maple Leafs target two goalies in free agency: Josh Harding and Scott Clemmensen.
I still hold the same opinion as I did then; the Maple Leafs need to give James Reimer a chance to be the starting goalie they think he is, but if he falters they need a proven veteran backup that can carry the load. Harding and Clemmensen both fit the bill and they should be had with short term, low cost contracts. The Leafs must also consider how well Ben Scrivens has developed at the AHL level. And although they will not go into the season with only Reimer and Scrivens as the only two goalies on the roster, he just might be the starting goalie at some point next year.
On the one hand, the Phoenix Coyotes should be thrilled that they made it to the Western Conference finals for the first time in franchise history. On the other, they should be disappointed that they were dismissed in five games by a team that finished two points behind them in the Pacific Division during the regular season.
But the biggest regret for the Coyotes should be the fact that everything that worked during series victories against the Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators failed against the L.A. Kings. (More on the royal juggernaut during previews for the Stanley Cup finals.) In 11 games against the Hawks and Preds, the Coyotes allowed 21 goals (1.9 goals per game); in five games against the Kings, they allowed 14 (2.8 goals per game). Consider the flip side to that equation: they only scored eight goals in five games against the Kings (1.6 goals per game) compared to 29 goals in the first 11 games of the playoffs (2.63 goals per game). So they scored 1.3 fewer goals per game and allowed 0.7 more goals per game. Not a recipe for success.
This is the fourth article in a series looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth by position. Thus far I have completed my review of goalies, defensemen and center icemen in the organization and that leaves us with wingers to round things out. As I stated in my previous article, most forwards can play multiple positions and often do throughout a season, I will do my best to categorize players as centers, left wingers or right wingers. For example, I am including Nazem Kadri in the right winger evaluation. Although Kadri plays center with the AHL Toronto Marlies, he has almost been exclusively a right winger in his stints with the Maple Leafs which suggests that he will be a winger at the NHL level.
Left Wingers on 2011-12 roster:
Last year at this time, the Washington Capitals were contemplating what went wrong after the Tampa Bay Lightning swept them right out of the conference semifinals. They vowed to get better, be more responsible, and play a better two-way system.
Here we are a year later, and the Caps lost (again) in the conference semifinals. They played better defense, but their offense was clearly weakened. Last year, they averaged 2.56 goals per game over nine playoff games, slightly better than the 2.07 goals per game they averaged in 14 games this postseason. Additionally, they gave up 2.67 goals per game in the playoffs last year, and that number dropped to 2.14 goals per game this time around. (This, of course, was a huge drop from the 3.14 goals per game they averaged during the 2010 playoffs, but then again, they lost in the first round that year.)
This is the third article in a series looking at the Toronto Maple Leafs organizational depth by position. Thus far I have completed my review of goalies and defensemen and next up will be a look at the organizational depth at the center ice position. Since most forwards can play multiple positions and often do throughout a season, I will do my best to categorize players as center, right wing or left wing. For example, I am not including Nazem Kadri in the center evaluation. Although Kadri plays center with the AHL Toronto Marlies, he has almost been exclusively a winger in his stints with the Maple Leafs which suggests that he will be a winger at the NHL level.
Center’s on 2011-12 roster:
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