Saturday, March 30, 2013

Trade Deadline 2013: Why the Leafs need Bouwmeester

Jay Bouwmeester Leafs Flames
With the trade deadline quickly approaching and playoff games at the ACC looking like a reality, the Leafs are in a position to buy at the deadline for the first time in years.

While the Leafs are not yet solid enough contenders to be willing to give up high prospects or first-round picks for rental players, there are options for improving the team this season and beyond that shouldn't deplete the farm system.

After Jarome Iginla's merciful trade out of Calgary, the next most obvious Alberta trade chip is Jay Bouwmeester, the $6.68 million defenceman who hasn't lived up to expectations since signing with the Flames.

But just because Bouwmeester hasn't justified his monster contract doesn't mean he is a bad player. In fact, Bouwmeester is a certifiable top-pairing defenceman.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The Burden of Expectations

leafs nikolai kulemin trade
Nikolai Kulemin's name has popped up in trade rumours this year, with most of the rumour mongers citing his drop in production as the primary reason. He's now become a "change of scenery" candidate and one the Leafs should allegedly be happy to trade.

After scoring 30 goals in 2010-11, Kulemin has scored 11 goals over his next 102 games. That's not even 9 over 82 games. When a player drops that far, it's hard not to wonder what's gone wrong. How can a player go from a career high to a career low so quickly?

Well, Kulemin's 30-goal year was the outlier, one likely to never be repeated. When you combine his career-high 30-goal season and his career-low 7-goal season that followed, it averages out to 18, right in line with 15-16 goals Kulemin scored his first two seasons. He wasn't as good as he was in 2010-11 and he wasn't as bad as he was in 2011-12.

But Kulemin only has four goals this season, which would total 10 over a full 82-game season. So compared to his early career, not even his outlier season, he has been conspicuously missing from the score sheet.

But Kulemin's lack of output is primarily a perceptual issue. Relative to his role, Kulemin is actually producing at a high level.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Crimes of Randy Carlyle

Randy Carlyle Leafs bad coach

There's a case to be made that Randy Carlyle is a rogue agent sent to infiltrate the Maple Leafs and take them down from the inside.

Carlyle has made a number of curious decisions that are putting the Leafs in a position to lose. The Leafs have to overcome many of Carlyle's decisions on a nightly basis in order to win.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Is Ryan Getzlaf Overpaid?

Ryan Getzlaf Ducks contract UFA
It's not often that an elite No. 1 centre hits the open market, and the Anaheim Ducks made sure it won't happen this year, giving Ryan Getzlaf an 8-year deal worth $8.25 million a season.

Getzlaf now owns the fourth highest cap hit in the league, tied with Eric Staal and behind Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin, and Sidney Crosby. That's big money, especially for a player coming off a down season. But Getzlaf has already proved that last season was an anomaly. He's tied for fifth in points with 29, and is on pace to register the best season of his career—a career in which he's only failed to break a point-a-game three times, two of which were his first two seasons.

Throughout his career, Getzlaf has been a dominant two-way centre; coaches aren't afraid to start him in the defensive zone and he's even being used to kill penalties under Bruce Boudreau. He is a puck-possession beast that plays a physical game. If there is any player worthy of huge money, it's Getzlaf.

But regardless of Getzlaf's ability, $8.25 million is a huge number that elicits a strong negative reaction. However, despite its humongous size, Getzlaf's deal is fair market price for a No. 1 centre about to become an unrestricted free agent.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Will Kadri Kill the Getzlaf Dream?

nazem kadri leafs goal
For as long as the need for a No. 1 centre has existed, Leafs fans have looked to July 1, 2013 and dreamt of Ryan Getzlaf. But with Nazem Kadri's emergence, this off-season's game plan might be changing.
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