Toronto Maple Leafs, 2009-10
Goals For: 214 27th
Goals Against: 267 29th
GVT: -53 29th
Points: 74 29th
VUKOTA Projection for 2010-11
Goals For: 220 28th
Goals Against: 240 25th
GVT: -20 29th
Points: 84 29th
2010-11 has become another season of failure for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In response, general manager Brian Burke has already pulled the trigger on moving disappointing blueliner Francois Beauchemin, netting a good defensive prospect in Jake Gardiner along with spare part Joffrey Lupul. Expect some more moves to come, hopefully with the future in mind.
It's a season of Phil Kessel bashing, so why not pile on here? While many of the "secondary stats" below aren't really that important, Kessel's levels of Hits/60 (0.6) and Blocked Shots/60 (0.6) indicate a shockingly low level of physical commitment. Likewise, his 0.65 takeaways per giveaway is last among Leafs forwards.
Maple Leafs top forwards, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Phil Kessel 13.0, Kris Versteeg 8.9, Mikhail Grabovski 7.6
Hits/60: Colton Orr 12.7, Frederic Sjostrom 6.7, Nikolai Kulemin 6.4
Blocked shots/60: Frederic Sjostrom 2.8, Colton Orr 2.8, John Mitchell 2.5
Takeaways/giveaway: Colby Armstrong 2.8, Kris Versteeg 2.3, Nikolai Kulemin 2.2
Net penalties/60: Mikhail Grabovski +1.1, Nikolai Kulemin +1.0, Phil Kessel +0.6
Faceoffs: Tyler Bozak 55.2%, Mikhail Grabovski 49.8%
Maple Leafs top defensemen, by 2009-10 stats
Shots/60: Dion Phaneuf 6.9, Tomas Kaberle 5.2, Francois Beauchemin 4.9**
Hits/60: Luke Schenn 7.8, Mike Komisarek 7.5, Dion Phaneuf 5.9
Blocked shots/60: Mike Komisarek 5.5, Luke Schenn 5.2, Carl Gunnarsson 5.0
Takeaways/giveaway: Francois Beauchemin 0.6**, Dion Phaneuf 0.6, Luke Schenn 0.5
Net penalties/60: Dion Phaneuf +0.3, Luke Schenn +0.0, Francois Beauchemin +0.0**
**Just traded to Anaheim
Minimum 40 games played
Maple Leafs goaltenders, 2009-10 and 2010-11 stats
Are you required to have a "J" name to play goal for the Maple Leafs nowadays? There's always Jussi Rynnas waiting in the wings, you know. With the well below average performances of Giguere and Gustavsson, rookie James Reimer might be on the verge of establishing himself as Toronto's new number one netminder.
Save percentage .907 / .896
Even strength save percentage: .915 / .906
Power play save percentage: .887 / .830
Shorthanded save percentage: .792 / .941
Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson
Save percentage .902 / .890
Even strength save percentage: .910 / .910
Power play save percentage: .851 / .784
Shorthanded save percentage: 1.000 / .864
Save percentage N/A / .927
Even strength save percentage: N/A / .936
Power play save percentage: N/A / .885
Shorthanded save percentage: N/A / 1.000
2009-10 statistics / 2010-11 statistics shown above
Just looking at the career percentages, the Maple Leafs have a great batch of shooters. Keep in mind, though, the small sample sizes of pretty much everyone except Phil Kessel. Therefore, Ron Wilsonor whoever his eventual successor will beneeds to keep rotating the Leafs' array of promising skaters through the skills competition, to see who's really got the skill. And regardless of his success through 65 minutes, keep Clarke MacArthur (0 for 9) firmly nailed to the bench.
A below average shootout performer for his career, J-S Giguere has been downright bad of recent, barely stopping half of the attempts against him over the past two seasons. Gustavsson's only been marginally better.
Best options, shooters with 10 or more career attempts
Tomas Kaberle: 41.7% (5 for 12)
Nikolai Kulemin: 40.0% (6 for 15)
Kris Versteeg: 40.0% (4 for 10)
Frederic Sjostrom: 36.4% (4 for 11)
Phil Kessel: 34.1% (14 for 41)
Best options, shooters with a limited track record
Tyler Bozak: 75.0% (3 for 4)
John Mitchell: 66.7% (4 for 6)
Colby Armstrong: 66.7% (2 for 3)
Mikhail Grabovski: 50.0% (3 for 6)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere: .622 career (89 for 143), .500 in 2009-10, .533 in 2010-11
Jonas Gustavsson: .588 career (10 for 17), .571 in 2009-10, .600 in 2010-11
James Reimer: No career attempts against
THE BIG QUESTIONS FACING THE MAPLE LEAFS
These quotes are from the February 8 win against the Islanders.
Big Question #1: Has James Reimer already established himself as the Maple Leafs number one goaltender going forward?
James Reimer: "I think I've progressed fairly well. It seems every game I play I feel more and more comfortable in there, and I feel like I'm reading the plays pretty good. At the start here, I felt prepared because our goaltending coach has been great and he prepared me well. I just feel like every time I play, I gain a little bit of experience and just get a little better for the next game. So I felt that it's been pretty good so far."
James Reimer (On whether he can be Toronto's number one netminder in 2011-12): "I don't know. I don't like to think too far ahead. That's a pretty high expectation, that's a pretty lofty goal. So I hope that I keep getting chances and opportunities this year to prove that I am capable. But that's far in advance from now, and I'm just focused on getting our next win in our next game."
VUKOTA says: The Leafs veteran netminders were expected to be below league average. 33-year-old Jean-Sebastien Giguere was projected for 29 GP with a .906 save percentage while 26-year-old Jonas Gustavsson was projected for 42 GP with a .903 save percentage. And they've been even worse than expected.
Hockey Prospectus 2010-11 says: Another consideration for 2011-12 had been 6'3" Finnish netminder Jussi Rynnas. Yet our annual cautioned that Rynnas might be "another Monster in the making" as he had "decidedly unimpressive numbers while not even playing at the highest level in his home country."
Big Question #2: Who's part of the problem and who's part of the solution?
Tomas Kaberle: "I just play it game by game and see what happens. I'm here to play hockey, not worry about the stuff you can't control. That's what my agent's for. Obviously, my heart is here, so I'd like to stay as a Leaf, but we'll see what happens."
Timo says: While scapegoats are convenient, it's not necessary as simple as "problem" and "solution" (though sometimes it is). Guys like Tomas Kaberle are fine players, but the question is whether you could flip them for more appropriate assets for down the road
along with unloading some salary, of course.
Answer: Gustavsson is one piece that's not part of the solution. And there's an Atlantic Division team that could use a healthy, warm body in goal right now
Big Question #3: So who's worth keeping and who's worth selling? Who can you sell?
Dion Phaneuf: "We've got a lot of young guys that are doing a really good job, and like you said, developing really well. Luke's played a lot of games in the league at a young age, and you can see how much he's even this year gotten that much more steady."
Timo says:To begin with, the contracts of Dion Phaneuf and Mike Komisarek are virtually immovable, so you can forget about them. Believe it or not, Leafs fans, Clarke MacArthur's worth selling, and you could net a good return given his very reasonable salary. Because watch out if you sign MacArthur to a long term deal off his Brady Anderson year (0.81 points per game at 25 years old, after a previous high of 0.44 points per game), as you will be sorry going forward. Tomas Kaberle's worth shopping for a team in need of a quality offensive defenseman. You'll want to retain fine young players like Nikolai Kulemin, Luke Schenn, Carl Gunnarson and James Reimer, of course.
Answer You keep your young, cheap talent. You sell players with reasonable contracts that are either overperforming (MacArthur) or that have skill sets in demand (Kaberle). And you might want to consider taking a page from the Redden-Souray playbook regarding marginal defensemen with vastly overpriced contracts (Komisarek).
Timo Seppa is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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