Toronto Maple Leafs Notebook: Wounding Virus Strikes


The trading day followed and took place as the Toronto Maple Leafs made a small move with minor implications.

We will come back to it a little later. The first thing to do is first: the Leafs have anticipated the huge maturity of their exchanges by adding a legitimate defender among the top four in Jake Muzzin – and this can not be forgotten here. It's a good thing that they made the decision to do it well before the deadline because the situation is getting worse and the coaching staff is still figuring out how their defense will be configured.

When Babcock was interviewed after the acquisition of Muzzin, it was clear that he was not sure how everything was going to be. One quote, in particular, stands out. When Babcock was asked when he had five left-handers, he said, "There is no doubt that this is not perfect. That's what we got. That's what was available and we will make it work. "

Saying this, let's see how ice time has been divided since trading (these statistics do not include the Oilers game):

Same strength YOU / game Power Play TOI / game YOU shorthanded / game Total TOI / game
Morgan Rielly 6:38 p.m. 3:03 1:32 11:13 p.m.
Jake Gardiner 5:22 p.m. 2:08 : 01 7:31 p.m.
Ron Hainsey 4:35 p.m. : 03 3:06 7:44 p.m.
Jake Muzzin 4:15 p.m. : 50 1:51 6:56 p.m.
Nikita Zaitsev 4:02 p.m. : 01 2:59 7:02 p.m.
Travis Dermott 3:39 p.m. : 01 : 12 3:51 p.m.

Originally, Muzzin had started teaming with Morgan Rielly, with Rielly moving to the right. The coaching staff, perhaps after a discussion with Rielly, decided that he was more efficient on the left side and relocated there. When this change occurred, the team did not make Muzzin move to the right – where he is less comfortable – to keep them together. Instead, they lined up their three players playing on the right side and sorted them accordingly: Ron Hainsey – Nikita Zaitsev – Travis Dermott.

If they want to stick to that lineup – and sometimes they've moved Gardiner to the right this season, then who knows? – This of course obviously limits what they can do with their defense. In fact, you can infer that this will hinder it completely. Their top three defenders are probably Rielly, Gardiner and Muzzin; none of them will play together, and this right side is not good enough to justify extending these three left – handed players.

Muzzin has been featured in Toronto as a defender in all situations. Until now, he has been at the height by displaying a remarkable ice time in all situations. However, in 14 games, he only passed the bar of 20 minutes three times – against the Habs in Montreal, where he played the full penalty in overtime (it is important to note here that Nikita Zaitsev was in the penalty area), and the last two games against the Buffalo Sabers and the Edmonton Oilers.

The overall performance of his game was approximately consistent with expectations – seven points (second on defense since the acquisition) and 24 shots on goal, plus physical presence. Even at his level, here are some key figures from his time as a courtesy of Leaf's Natural Stat Trick (these stats do not include the Oilers game):

Corsi For% Chance of score% Objectives for%
Jake Muzzin 52.09 50.8 65

Overall, he has been consistent and reasonably expected of him, but his ice time suggests he is in the lower half of this defense group. That is why it is important to conclude the agreement in advance, in theory because they have time to solve this problem.

It's still a work in progress, but it does not seem likely that Kyle Dubas exchanged the team's choice in the first round and two reasonable chances for Muzzin to play as a near-fourth-fifth defender. All the while, Hainsey remains paired with Rielly and the Leafs are in front of another first-round match against the Boston Bruins and are arguably the best line in the league.


– On the By Lindholm trade – my main question about his departure was and remains to know who will replace his PK minutes, where he was fourth among the Leafs forwards in times of scarcity on ice. If the first match without him was an indication, it will be Mitch MarnerWho actually played more than three minutes against the Sabers.

Frederik Gauthier saw his first shorthanded ice time this month and quickly scored for a goal. It certainly was not his fault, but he should know that there was no reason to sue Sam Reinhart, even outside, along the half-wall. He is not a goal threat at all and the Leafs usually see their attackers collapse in front of the half-players and their defense strengthens.

– Good energy and some good goals for Tyler Ennis since his return, but keeps his ice time in perspective so far: 10:33, 7:18, 9:59 and 7:14. With the acquisition of Nicolas Petan and Nazem Kadri back, the fourth line will have some moving parts to sort as Connor Brown will be bumped up there.

Nic Petan is an interesting option as a depth player considering his non-NHL career so far (89 points in 108 League games, a few seasons with more than 110 points in the Western League). Yes, he is small and talented and Dubas mentioned that it corresponds to their style of play, but also to the contract and the potential to contribute to the future. This is a pending UFA that should not bring in more than a million dollars on its next contract. With the cap so tight, it represents an inexpensive depth option with potential that allows AHL players to continue to grow with time on the ice. Trevor Moore has already been signed for less than a million and Frederik Gauthier is as good. This could be a fourth line with a total of less than $ 2.5 million. These are the kinds of things the Leafs will have to start doing more regularly.

– think that he's sometimes forgotten but William Nylander was originally prepared to become a center until the team won the lottery and chose Auston Matthews while Kadri and Tyler Bozak were on the list. They then signed John Tavares last summer. After Kadri's exit, Nylander has his longest look at the center since his first call, before the draft before Auston Matthews, while he had 13 points in 22 games. Now that his skate has regained its shape, Nylander occupies a central position in the center of the race: he can travel the ice at a speed, which makes him even more dangerous. On the wing, you can sometimes be limited to go up and down your wall and you have more freedom in the center. This rush is a good example:

William Nylander is part of the second power play unit since it was signed, but it should be noted that it dropped it at the head of the first unit when it had 5v3. The configuration for the 5v3 is rather a 2-1-2 instead of 1-3-1, so it makes sense to leave it for this configuration to be a right-handed shooter (with a good shot).

– between time Matthews and Nylander Having missed this season, I wonder if the Leafs will enjoy the next hour of the playoffs quietly, as they will both be reasonably well rested without having gone through all of the 82 game stages. Both players struggled in the playoffs last season, but both have improved their games in recent weeks and look very cool for the last minute.

Additional reflections

– The only other outstanding defender negotiated with a term remaining on his contract was Brandon Montour. He is less accomplished / has almost no pedigree like Muzzin. In addition, he had a bad season in a bad Anaheim team, although he was young and right handed. The price for him was a first and Brendan Guhle, a decent prospect with a medium ceiling. In the end, the Leafs paid a bit more, but they had the best defender.

– Boston added the depth they desperately needed Marcus Johansson and Charlie Coylewhich will make them all the more difficult to face. The top line is obviously a matter of concern, but Johansson should complete that second line while Coyle gives them depth to get into training and carry the third line. They are 10-0-4 in their last 14.

– I thought Tampa was smart not to play with anything. Why tinkering with a very good thing? This is the best composition of the league.

– I wonder if there was a Tampa effect to the east. Other than Columbus and Boston, and no doubt the Leafs, no one has really made a huge impact. To a certain extent, it is difficult to justify it knowing that the animal will have to be tamed. The West is a little more open about the number of teams that can legitimately think they can qualify for the Cup. In the East, some teams are happy to be there: Montreal, New York Islanders, Carolina.

– Washington is doing very well by adding Nick Jensen, who has a legitimate season among the top four defenders, and Carl Hagelin, a depth speed player, to complete their list. Their top six are already established and their top four are the same group that helped them to win a cup last year. They will not give up the Cup without a very good fight.

– For all the talk of what Wayne Simmonds That would cost Ryan Hartman (who looks like one of the last six players in career), and a fourth-round conditional choice is not a price so high to pay. He has always spoken of a playoff player – he has 21 points in 42 playoff games and has never passed the second round. I would be curious to see how it behaves this year, given the rumor in Toronto.

– I liked the other shot that Nashville did, adding Mikael Granlund, who can play center and wing and has a career of .69 points per game.

– That said, I have no idea who will come out of the West. Jets adding Kevin Hayes was a fantastic gesture and Mark Stone is a legitimate frontline player, giving the Golden Knights two very good lines to manage, while the Sharks probably have the most complete list of the conference.

– I feel for Dallas and Mats Zuccarello. Just a terrible chance. It was going to be a good addition to their playoff pursuit.


"By building a team, we are trying to build a team that can help us win now and in the future. When you start forming a team to play only one playoff team, you start losing yourself a bit and losing what you are. "

– Kyle Dubas on the urgency to follow the Bruins' additions

I agree with the general feeling here. I also think that there are times when you can do rug and match your opponents (like the arms race we just saw in the West). The difficulty, if you are the Leafs, is to be realistic here. After that, they will have to beat Boston and Tampa to qualify for the conference final. Do you think it's like the year of pushing all your chips in the middle of the table and playing all-in?

"The end result is that we have (Muzzin), we have some players that are not available at the moment, we have some in the miners who, in our opinion, are ready to play in our team and they have been there long enough, we think we have a good depth, so let's go.

– Mike Babcock on the list after the trade deadline

Trevor Moore is obviously a player who, according to them, is ready and he seems to be in the team for the rest of the season. I wonder who else he was referring to? It's a shame Calle Rosen is injured given all these injuries on the blue line. It would have been nice to finally be able to watch it in the NHL. Hard to ignore Jeremy Bracco with 55 points in 55 games and Bricklayer Marchment before hurting me, it looked like a potential fourth-line contributor.

"I do not want to think about it too much, but of course, you always think that something could happen with the team, with yourself or with someone else."

– Andreas Johnsson at the trade deadline

Do not worry about what they say – these guys are human and it bothers them. Maybe not everyone, but it is certain for some of them. Let's focus on hockey until the end.

5 things that I think I would do

1. I think I should call Martin Marincin given the injuries to Calle Rosen and Andreas Borgman (which is an extremely unfortunate timing). I would like to give Justin Holl but the right side is then Zaitsev – Igor Ozhiganov – Holl, and that can not happen.

2 I think I would be open to setting Justin Holl more than Igor Ozhiganov just to play it and see what it does. Ozhiganov is a bit of a quantity known at this stage. This is a player who stays at home and stays simple, who tries to play cautiously and who is physical on occasion. With Holl's skating ability, I think there is more potential. (Apparently, this is the plan for Thursday night in New York).

3 I think injuries are a good opportunity to play Jake Muzzin more and really push it in this range. This player should play more than 22 players per night and he was lucky enough to have 20 minutes if everyone is in good health. So it's his chance to take advantage of the wounds and propel his role and his ice time.

4 I think at this point you can not justify Andreas Johnsson among the top six. I can understand to eventually meet Hyman – Matthews – Nylander, but otherwise he should be with Matthews. If this line were to be reunited, Johnsson should be on the second line with Tavares and Marner.

5 I think the Leafs' strategy of starting their first goaltender in the first back-to-back match is quite logical and the fact that Garret Sparks will start the game Islanders will be good for him and the organization to see how he handles it. You never know how the playoffs will unfold. Although Sparks has experience of the AHL playoffs of last season, playing in any hostile environment is an excellent learning opportunity.

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