Rumours: Campbell and Mikheyev updates, Dubas’ plan, fresh trade bait

In last week’s Rumour post I held out some hope that with scouting meetings wrapping up we might finally see some tangible rumours develop this week. That was wishful thinking and we are still very much at the mercy of a very quiet Leafs organization that doesn’t want to tip their hand one way or another. The silence from the Leafs organization is probably a positive thing and certainly seems more respectful of the players, but on the other hand, it makes me nervous having no idea what could be coming and often leads to raised expectations.
In the spirit of that, let’s start with a refresher from Kyle Dubas’ end of season press availability that spelled out some of what could be explored this summer:
I don’t think that we just want to start making changes that may be lateral or make us inferior as a team just to say that we changed something.
I think this one is a pretty straightforward one and in many ways a throwaway statement. No one goes into a trade trying to get back the same value or trading from an area of need that they’d need to replace with a similar player at a similar cost. I mean, you could do that if you plan gaining assets via trade and then be aggressive in free agency, but there is more risk associated with that approach than GMs like.
I don’t v …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Goaltending targets for the Leafs in the draft

Initially this post was written before the Leafs decided to not renew Steve Briere’s contract (the Leafs goaltending coach). The idea that the Leafs need to explore any and all goaltending options until they produce a worthwhile goaltender in their own system seems like a necessity. Really the last 30 years have only Felix Potvin, Damian Rhodes, and James Reimer as success stories. With a new goaltending coach arriving, it’s important they get a chance to bring in their guys to work with and have a say on the organization direction when it comes to goaltending.
Related:
The Leafs won’t renew goalie coach Steve Briere’s contract

It’s time for the Maple Leafs to hire a Director of Goaltending and give that position a seat at the table

This draft is deep. This draft has high-end talent. This draft really doesn’t have that one goaltender who truly warrants first round consideration. That’s fine. For the most part, goaltending seems to be about requiring the best raw materials at age 18 and putting that player on the best development path to success. It’s a hard position to assess often even by the experts. That’s why I usually just steer into my biases when identifying goaltenders that make sense for development.
One of my biases is that I’m a fan of workhorses. If a goaltender is handling over 50 games at 17 or 18, they will likely be capable of tackling a starter’s workload at the pro level as well. In theory, they should be durable, in practice, Ian Scott still found a way to start off his pro career with an entire entry level contract worth of injuries.
Another bias is seeing that the goaltender is working in a good development system. These could be competitive NCAA schools, well-funded CHL teams, or European clubs with a history of goaltender development.
Based on that, here are some of my top picks.
Thomas Milic- Seattle WHL
Milic is very much a what have you done for me lately option, and with Seattle still going in the WHL playoffs, he’s a good option. Milic was ranked 28th on the NHL Central Scouting North American goaltending list, and suspect his stock has raised. Milic is an overage, which I don’t think is a deal breaker when considering goaltenders and if anything held Milic back in his initial draft year it was his lack of resume only having 9 games last year with Seattle and 2 light load games for Canada in the U-18s.
Milic had a .912 save percentage …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Alex Kerfoot’s contract is begging for him to be traded on July 1st

This is my 1,560th post on this site. A number I just looked up in order to say, of the 1,560th posts I’ve written for this site, there is a good chance a quarter of them are in some way either saying Alex Kerfoot should be traded, Alex Kerfoot will be traded, or saying that Alex Kerfoot has better trade value than he gets credited for. This is a post touching on all three of those things, and while the subject of Kerfoot comes up in every article discussing the salary cap, I feel that Kerfy deserves a standalone post to his commitment to improving the Leafs salary cap situation next year and why he should potentially bring in a solid return for the Leafs in a trade. I feel a lot of this is stating the obvious so, we’ll get right to it.
Alex Kerfoot’s signing bonus is the reason for this post
If you haven’t gone scrolling through the Leafs salary cap situation for next season yet, you might be the healthiest person of all of us. You’d also have missed out on how Alex Kerfoot’s contract works for his last year.
 Cap Hit
$3,500,000
 AAV
$3,500,000
 Performance Bonuses
$0
 Base Salary
$750,000
 Signing Bonuses
$1,950,000
 Total Salary
$2,700,000
 Minors Salary
$2,700,000
 Clauses
 M-NTC (10 team no trade list)
With $1,950,000M being paid to Alex Kerfoot on July 1st, that means any team that is acquiring Kerfoot is only paying him $750k next season. That’s a hell of a bargain for the most cash tight teams, and the fact that he eats up $3,500,000 o …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

The Bruins can never be taken lightly as a playoff opponent

If one thing was made clear in our post earlier today, there’s no shortage of people who think it’s in the Leafs best interest to face the Bruins. I’m not sure I fall into that camp, and while it seems less than likely the Bruins will be who Toronto faces in the first round, there is still a very real possibility that a team whose identity is based on playing “playoff hockey” is going to be able to upset either the Panthers, or based on the current seeding, run through the Metropolitan Division and reemerge to face an Atlantic Division opponent in the Conference Finals. If the Leafs somehow find themselves there, I can’t imagine a more fitting, but unwelcome barrier to the Stanley Cup Finals.
Boston by the numbers:

Boston
Toronto
GP
75
76
Pts
97 (10th)
106 (3rd)
GF
231 (18th)
293 (2nd)
GA
201 (4th)
234 (18th)
PP%
21.6% (14th)
27.8% (1st)
PK%
82.3% (8th)
83.0% (7th)
CF%
54.40%
53.70%
xGF%
56.81%
55.29%
HDCF%
56.27%
55.44%
HDGF%
54.97%
51.21%
PDO
0.989
1.002
as of April 19th
For a team that has a reputation for playing a punishing style of hockey, they are also statistical darlings and their lower point total shouldn’t put teams at ease, especially when looking at their PDO. If things start going anywhere close to right for this team, they are capable of making things difficult for absolutely every team in the league.
Forwards
A forward group that begins with a line of Pastrnak, Bergeron, and Marchand begs to be taken seriously. Throw in a supporting cast led by Taylor Hall, Charlie Coyle and Craig Smith and the Bruins show signs of offensive depth.
Of course, the Bruins are first and foremost shit disturbers and it doesn’t stop at Marchand. Trent Frederic, Nick Foligno, and Jake DeBrusk aren’t fun to play against. Even the Bruins depth seems to understand that if they want to be in the lineup, they need to make life difficult means there aren’t too many easy shifts …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

David Kämpf moving to the Leafs is an underappreciated gem

When I wrote our offseason introductory post on who David Kampf (Kämpf) is, the numbers I looked at painted a picture of a player who came out of nowhere to be just “okay”. If anything I came away thinking that Kämpf might be a case of subtraction by addition. And my goodness was I wrong.
After scoring just 1 goal last year for Chicago, and only 7 primary points at 5-on-5, Kämpf already has 6 primary points in the 22 games he’s played this season. He’s been locked into the 3rd line center role, deservedly, and performed at a good clip in that spot. From the very start of the season, it felt like he would change my mind.
The recent injury scare was enough to galvanize that opinion. It forces one to think about Pierre Engvall moving to center, or Jason Spezza being pulled up into that role, or Alexander Kerfoot coming down from the top-six. None of those options are terrible, but all of those players seem to fit much better where they are.
It’s not just Kämpf’s scoring though, or feeling like he’s fit in that role. That would be too superficial …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Leafs snap their three game losing streak

Perhaps the title of this post isn’t fair. And it certainly doesn’t embrace the fact that it was fun to see the Leafs play again, and while the purpose of the preseason isn’t necessarily to win, it certainly doesn’t hurt to come away with the W, and the Leafs did tonight in a 4-1 win, and with a 2-1 shootout victory as well.
Tonight marked the anticipated return of John Tavares to the lineup, and the healthy captain potted a goal from where we’ve come to appreciate him the most, in front of the net redirecting a William Nylander shot.
Nylander, Tavares, and Jake Muzzin certainly did what we’d hope to see out of them, and played a step above the competition you see teams are playing with only half a NHL roster and shooting against AHL goaltending.
The new arrivals also put on a strong showing as Gabriel managed to end an assist short of a Gordie Howe Hat trick, Michael Bunting put in a greasy goal as well, and Josh Ho-Sang had a strong night, that might unfortunately have one bad turnover as a mark against him. It’s probably worth noting …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

Kyle Dubas’ tenure has been one of patience, loyalty, and vision, and that’s pissed a lot of people off

Kyle Dubas’ tenure has been one of patience, loyalty, and vision, and that’s pissed a lot of people off

This post is born of a somewhat regular conversation I seem to be having with other Leafs and with other hockey fans, and that’s how do you feel about Kyle Dubas? I don’t think it’s something that’s a straight forward answer for me, or a lot of Leafs fans at this point, so as we head into what could be the most critical days of his time as GM, I felt like rambling on the subject to the point my brain is exhausted.
When it comes to coaches and general managers it seems like there is a finite amount of time that you will be loved. There was a time when Leafs fans were over the moon about Brian Burke. He made big promises, he had recently won a Stanley Cup, and he presented himself as a straight shooter. That didn’t last. There was a time when Leafs fans thought that by bringing in Mike Babcock that we had landed the greatest coach in hockey. He had Stanley Cup and Olympic credentials. He was going to get the Leafs back on track, and to some extent that’s true, but then not much more and …

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Author: Jon Steitzer / The Leafs Nation

NHL Playoff Projections! — Staturday Weekly Column #16

Today’s staturday post will be a quick and early look at how different models are rating teams’ playoff chances around the NHL, with a necessary focus on the Canadian North division where our beloved Toronto Maple Leafs play.
HockeyViz
The first model I’ll show you is Micah Blake McCurdy’s “Magnus 4” model, which is available on his website, hockeyviz.com (which is for subscribers only, which I highly recommend), or through periodic updates on his Twitter page. I’ll use the most recent Twitter updates so that everyone is on the same level here.
The first way to look at playoff projections is to look at points projections. The Magnus 4 model calculates a team’s projected points in the standings regularly, so this chart shows the changes in those projections over the last 2 weeks.

We can see that Toronto has been on a downward trend recently, both in results and in Magnus 4’s estimation of how those results might continue. The tail end of the trend does buck up significantly though, so Thursday’s win over the Jets apparently showed Magnus 4 something it liked.
The chart above also shows the expected points cutoff for each division as to …

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Author: Ryan Hobart / The Leafs Nation

Page 6ix Wednesday, March 17th: Gord Miller fans stand up!

I want to make this entire post about Gord Miller taking on Barstool, but I suppose there are other things I can discuss from this past week in hockey, too. If I have to. So we’ll get to Gord shortly. First – let’s take a look at what else happened around the hockey world this week, though it won’t be anywhere near as fun!
Leafs Lads
Remember Saturday’s Leafs game against the Jets? It sucked, and was awful. But at the end of the game when the Leafs took a ridiculous penalty, coach Sheldon Keefe went off! We had not yet seen Keefe unleashed, but now we have. I am weirdly good at reading lips, so below I translate exactly what it was Sheldon yelled that got him an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty:

“Graham. GRAHAM. That happens 50 times a game! That happens 50 times a game and you fucking call it now? Fuck you, Graham!” https://t.co/1jyk7ddIf8
— Mer (@MerOutLoud) March 14, 2021

Meanwhile, the tweet below is fake and Sheldon was not fined, but I honestly would not have minded if he was:

Leafs’ coach Sheldon Keefe fined $25,000. https://t.co/MdVJWrueMJ pic.twitter.com/h6yPE9Tx70
— …

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation

The Leafs made it onto TMZ and we don’t know how to feel about it

TMZ tweeted a post this morning that caught Leafs fans by surprise – because it was about our team! That’s right, the major Hollywood gossip site featured the Wayne Simmonds vs. Jordie Benn fight from last night’s game. Even better – they tweeted it from their main account and not only their sports account.

NHL’s Wayne Simmonds Wrecks Opponent In Epic On-Ice Fight, 13 Straight Haymakers! https://t.co/UXLgwW42Gv
— TMZ (@TMZ) February 5, 2021

Does this mean we’ve made it?
In case you missed it, check out the fight below. We’d say Wayne won that one pretty cleanly, but Benn held his own for a while. It’s been some time since we’ve seen a fight like this in a Leafs game, and so long as everyone is a willing participant (which, clearly, they were here), fights like this one can be really fun. Take a look, and don’t forget to read the post-game recap for a full account of the Leafs 7-3 win.

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Author: Mer / The Leafs Nation