2015, Hockey, Sports

Your 2014-15 Toronto Maple Leafs

I watched as little of the Leafs this year as I have since I was 16, more than half my life ago. I did this because Burke and then Nonis killed my passion for the team after JFJ made me more passionate, albeit passionate as to wanting him fired. I’m sort of kidding.

I was still passionate enough about the Leafs that in late 2013 I began writing a book to summarize my great dislike of Burke’s handling of the Leafs and that book was published last summer, not long after most people decided that Nonis was terrible. I strongly agree that Nonis was a terrible GM – and he makes Burke look good in comparison – but we should remember that Nonis got all his NHL executive work because of Burke, and that Burke is the one who created the team Nonis couldn’t fix and the climate in which Nonis proceeded to fail so miserably.

Both are responsible. I guess that’s the bad news.

Not to toot my own (goal) horn – okay, to toot it just a little – but I knew that
this was going to happen. In my book I argued there was no way a
Kessel-Phaneuf nucleus was taking the Leafs to the Cup. Back in March of 2011 I tried to bet one of you that it wouldn’t happen. I offered beer. But I thought it was going to take a lot longer than this for everyone else to catch up to me. (I’m soooo smart after all.) So the good news is that Nonis has been fired and so have a ton of other personnel who are believed to have contributed to all those past bad decisions – drafting poorly (at least in terms of Canadians), terrible free agent signings, cap mismanagement, and the like.

And so, with that good news in mind, I present a completely uninformed guess as to where the Leafs should go from here, now that they are finally out from under Burke’s idiotic “rebuild on the fly” project and can actually think of properly rebuilding post-Mats Sundin. The core component of that rebuild might of might not be this summer’s #4 overall pick (as that spot’s not quite guaranteed to produce a star) – the first pick that high for the Leafs since 1989 – but in the meantime let’s focus on the team at hand and think about whether any of them should stick around.

(As always with these wrap ups, the players are ranked in terms of time on ice. Age is their age as of February 1st.)

Jonathan Bernier, 26, G:

  • 21-28-7, 2 SO, .912 SV%, 2.87 GAA, 26 quality starts (QS), 11 really bad starts (RBS) in 58 games
  • Career: 76-67-20, 9 SO, .916 SV%, 2.64 GAA, 87 QS, 24 RBS in 175 games
  • RFA
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis for Matt Frattin, Ben Scrivens and a second round pick (unknown) on June 23, 2013

Bernier had a below average year for him but we should note not particularly below average. Bernier’s 2013-14 season was the best of his career and the only one in which he was even a 1A.

The sample for Bernier is rather small compared to some other goaltenders his age; Bernier is 13th in games played among goalies 26 or younger since the start of the 2007 season when he entered the league – for comparison, Price and Mason have both played in twice as many games as Bernier. If we cut off that list at a minimum of 100 games played, that gives us 21 goalies. Bernier is 8th in save percentage – right behind Quick and Price, it’s fun to note – but 13th in shots against. So though Bernier might look like an above average young goalie, but we don’t actually know because he’s faced a below average number of shots. (Holtby, for example, has faced slightly less than 100 more shots than Bernier, but boasts the 2nd best save percentage in the group.)

All of this is to say I have no idea whether or not the Leafs should retain Bernier this summer. I am of two minds:

  • On the one hand, Bernier is young enough that it might be worth the Leafs retaining him long-term just so they have at least some average goaltending during the rebuild, to maintain team morale and the like. Look at what poor goaltending has done to the culture in Edmonton.
  • On the other hand, Bernier might want to get paid (with term) because he wasn’t terrible this year. His agent can point to his regular season numbers and Quick’s contract and say “Who’s to say Bernier wouldn’t have won a Cup had he been given an opportunity like Quick?” And in that case, wouldn’t the Leafs be better off trading his rights for a decent pick in this summer’s draft?

The Leafs are going to be bad for a while yet. Paying a lot of money to a decent goalie is something they can afford to do but I have no idea whether or not it’s something they need to do.

James Reimer, 26, G:

  • 9-16-1, 0 SO, .907 SV%, 3.16 GAA, 11 QS, 7 RBS in 35 games
  • Career: 74-64-16, 11 SO, .913 SV%, 78 QS, 30 RBS in 175 games
  • UFA
  • Drafted by John Ferguson, Jr. 99th overall in 2006

Had the team not imploded despite decent goaltending, not trusting Reimer as his #1 goalie might have come to be the best decision of Nonis’ brief tenure. Let’s go back to that list we talked about for Bernier – Reimer is tied with Bernier in games played despite coming up in 2010. That’s because Reimer was never the backup behind one of the NHL’s star goalies. So initially Reimer got more starts. Then, of course, Nonis didn’t trust Reimer despite his .923 playoff save percentage, and now things are more equal. They are, for all intents and purposes, the same age. So let’s look a little closer. All this is relative to the other goalies “26” and under who have played in at least 100 NHL games as of the end of the 2014-15 season.

Player Games Min Wins Loses Others SOs Shots Against Save %age GAA QS RBS GPS
Jonathan Bernier 175 (tied 13th) 9720 (13th) 76 (13th) 64 (12th) 20 (11th) 9 (15th) 5076 (13th) .916 (8th) 2.64 (13th) 87* (13th) 24* (12th) 32 (12th)
James Reimer 175 (tied 13th) 9367 (14th) 74 (tied 15th) 67 (13th) 16 (5th) 11 (14th) 5198 (11th) .913 (13th) 2.90 (19th) 78 (16th) 30 (13th) 31.1 (13th))

Holy shit, those are two very similar goaltenders. Bernier wins, but barely. And remember Bernier played on a significantly better team for his first 62 games.

So, I know this might sound crazy, but maybe the Leafs are better off trading Bernier’s rights for something and signing Reimer at a discount – because of his shitty year – and just living with slightly below average goaltending during the rebuild? The Leafs save money (not important) and potentially get another valuable asset (much more important) while employing a known commodity in goal, who they have no pressure to make the long-term goalie, provided he doesn’t turn back into Optimus Reim.  Is that crazy?

Dion Phaneuf, 29, D:

  • 3G, 26A for 29P, -11 in 70 games; 23:43 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 13G, 31A for 43P, -1; 24:45 ATOI
  • UFA in 2022, Cap Hit of $7 mil per season
  • Acquired by Brian Burke with Keith Aulie and Fredril Sjostrom for Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White

Now regardless of what you thought of the trade that brought him here – as a reminder, I did not like it even though I am one of perhaps two Leafs fans who still feels this way – Nonis’ re-signing of Phaneuf to such a long-term deal was idiotic at the time and stands as perhaps the second or third biggest mistake of his tenure.

In four and a half seasons in Calgary, Phaneuf averaged .6 PPG and nearly 25 minutes per game. In five-ish seasons in Toronto, Phaneuf has averaged .53 PPG and 24 minutes per game. That seems like there has been only a slight decline. However, Phaneuf was already showing signs of offensive decline before the fabled trade and only his first couple seasons in Toronto elevate his PPG here above half a point. Phaneuf’s ice-time was also dropping in Calgary – remember he lost his #1 job to Jay Bouwmeester – but then he was asked to play over 25 minutes per game in Toronto from the day he arrived until the end of the lock-out shortened season. The last two seasons he have played on 23 minutes per game for the first time since his last half season in Calgary, now that Toronto has other D.

Why does this matter? Perhaps it was just the circumstance in Calgary – and at the WJCs – that made it appear Phaneuf was going to become one of the next great offensive D in the NHL. Or perhaps Phaneuf learned to take less offensive chances over time. Perhaps it was circumstance that made Phaneuf look like a legitimate #1 D in the NHL and even finish second in Norris trophy voting one year. Whatever it was, we now know better. Phaneuf is not a #1 D in the NHL. He is also not one of the top offensive D in the league – since he came to the Leafs, he is 28th in PPG among D to have played at least 350 games, i.e. the top offensive option on one of the worst teams in the league, which he was.

What he is is a workhorse. Phaneuf has played the 6th most games of any D since he entered the league, and he is only behind on that list because he missed 12 games this season. (He is 4th in ice time.) Phaneuf is a Top 2 – at least for the moment – and he can eat minutes like crazy. But he is 30 and he has a really long contract that isn’t exactly cheap. A team with an up and coming #1 D who could benefit from having a veteran on that pairing would likely cherish a minutes-eater like Phaneuf.

The question is, which team would that be? Because it doesn’t make any sense for the Leafs to keep him, now that the rebuild is official. He will just be asked to continue to do too much. My hope is the Leafs can get something back for him – since he is a valuable player in the right circumstance – rather than having to pay someone to take the contract.

If he stays here, he will continue to be attacked by the media, he will take up cap space, and he will continue to get played way too much. (Unfortunately, Phaneuf has a “limited” no trade clause, making him harder to deal.)

Jake Gardiner, 24, D:

  • 4G, 20A for 34P, -23 in 79 games, 20:58 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 7G, 23A for 30P, -10, 21:10 ATOI
  • UFA in 2019, Cap Hit of $4.05 mil per season
  • Acquired by Brian Burke with Joffrey Lupul and a 4th round pick (later traded) for Francois Beauchemin

One of the great deals of Burke’s tenure was to trade a defenseman perceived to be “struggling” – at least perceived by Torontonians to be struggling – for three assets, one of which was a rather unheralded prospect at the position.

Now, I have taken issue with Burke’s obsession with players he is familiar with to the extent that much of my book is about how ridiculous that was, but in this case he was dead right. Though Gardiner has struggled with consistency since his rookie season, I believe he has the skill-set, talent and “hockey IQ” to be a successful Top 4 (perhaps even Top 2) D on a good team in this league. Remember, he’s only just 24. His coaches have had trouble trusting him, which is something I have personally struggled with, given my beliefs as to how bad the Leafs truly were. (Though I must say, the one time they did trust him over Franson, I was mystified.)

Though this may sound extreme to some, to me Gardiner is borderline untouchable. If I were running things, I would want a younger, better D prospect in return plus another asset. Why a second asset? Because at this point Gardiner has nearly 250 NHL games under his belt and he is a known commodity. A younger D is unlikely to have that kind of experience and I want something to hedge the bet. Far as I’m concerned, I am truly content to make Gardiner one of the two future cornerstones at his position going forward, at least until an alternative comes along.

Mogan Rielly, 20, D:

  • 8G, 21A for 29P, -16, 20:20 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 5G, 25A for 30P, -16; 19:03 ATOI
  • RFA in 2016, Cap Hit of $0.85 mil per season
  • Drafted by Brian Burke 5th overall in 2012

It’s safe to say that, prior to this summer’s draft, the Leafs have at least two legitimate prospects. One of them is Rielly – though I guess at this point he’s “graduated” – and he represents the Leafs’ future at the position. Rielly, at 20, is better than Gardiner at 24 – at least I think he is, which isn’t saying much.

In the old NHL it might have been a little crazy to be building your team around two mobile, “puck moving” D, but this isn’t the old NHL. (As demonstrated by the lack of success of Luke Schenn so far in his career. Had Schenn been born 10 years earlier, I feel like things would have turned out very different for him.)

As far as I’m concerned the Leafs should be thinking about a “bridge” contract already. Let’s get him locked up now. He’s the most untouchable player on the team  probably by a long shot – and the only other player of comparable youth and value in the Leafs’ organization hasn’t played a game in the NHL yet (for once!!!). Extend this guy ASAP before he has a better year next season and gets paid.

Tyler Bozak, 28, C:

  • 23G, 26A for 49P, -34 in 82 games; 19:09 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 21G, 30A for 50P, -16
  • UFA in 2018, Cap Hit of $4.2 mil per season
  • Signed by Brian Burke as an amateur free agent on April 3, 2009

Bozak initially represented the most successful of Burke’s creative amateur and non-NHL pro free agent signings. He really was the only one that turned into an NHL player. Unfortunately, for far too long the Leafs have played him as if he was the heir to Mats’ old role on the team, and the results have been disastrous. Bozak has maintained second line offensive production in first line minutes despite regularly playing with one of the best wingers in the league on his wing. And the defensive results have been worse.

Bozak’s career year in 2013-14 – after he signed his extension – vindicated his place on the team in the eyes of many, for some reason. But that would have been the time to trade him. (Of course, Nonis, a Bozak fan, was still in charge.)

Bozak began this year continuing to on a similar pace: he had 22 points through November – nearly half his total for the year – good for a point per game. That also would have been the time to trade him. Of course, the Leafs were then under the impression that this team was competitive because of a winning streak, and because Nonis was still in charge.

Given how poorly the rest of his season went, I think it’s going to be hard to find a decent buyer, especially given Bozak’s limited no trade clause.

So one option is to throw him into that #1 spot again, despite the evidence to the contrary – and provided, of course, that Kessel, the man who keeps him going, is still around – and hope that he starts the season on a tear, and then trade him.

The other option is to hope that at least one GM of a team Bozak will accept a trade to thinks about hockey like the writers of the Toronto Star or Sun, and thinks Bozak is great. That might also work.

Either way, it’s hard to see a future for a player like him here.

James van Riemsdyk, 25, LW:

  • 27G, 29A for 56P, -33 in 82 games; 19:05 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 25G, 25A for 50P, -7; 17:03 ATOI
  • UFA in 2018, Cap Hit of $4.25 mil per season
  • Acquired by Brian Burke for Luke Schenn on June 23, 2012

This is the one trade Burke made that I (lightly) criticized him for where I really screwed the pooch.  I believe my reasoning was sound – wingers have less to learn in the NHL than D, therefore take the young D over the young wing – however I failed to recognize how the league was changing. As I alluded to above, Schenn’s breed is dying out. He’s not mobile enough, despite his other abilities, to be the Top 4 D that many of us – me perhaps more than most – thought he would be when he seemed NHL-ready during his rookie season. So Burke was right to get rid of him.

Burke was also right to take a chance on a guy who was not getting enough playing time in Philly. Though JVR’s numbers look nearly identical to Bozak’s, JVR has been a .7 PPG player since coming to Toronto, something Bozak has only ever managed in parts of two seasons – his rookie season, when he played in 37 games, and his career year, when he played in 58. JVR is clearly a better offensive payer than Bozak, in addition to be younger.

Also, JVR showed up perhaps more than any other forward during the Leafs playoff run. I’m not one for “intangibles” too much of the time, but that’s an intangible I like. (By “showing up,” I mean he had 33 shots on goal in 138 minutes.)

This is perhaps the hardest question of any for the team going into this summer but the answer depends on how long the rebuild is expected to last. That’s not something we can really predict. Too many variables.

So I think what the Leafs need to do is hedge: keep him initially – I doubt his value will go down – and if things are on track fast, extend him. If things are still shitty in, say, the summer of 2017, maybe then think about trading him. Of course, if some idiot comes along and offers a so-called “Godfather” offer for JVR, then they should by all means take it.

Phil Kessel, 27, RW:

  • 25G, 36A for 61P, -34 in 82 games, 18:48 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 30G, 34A for 64P, -9; 18:16 ATOI
  • UFA in 2022, Cap Hit of $8 mil
  • Acquired by Brian Burke for two 1st round picks (Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton) and one 2nd (Jared Knight)

Until this season, there were lots of people who still wanted to defend “The Trade,” somehow insisting that trading two likely very high first round picks – plus another pick!!! – for a former Top 5 pick made any kind of sense at the time;

  • people who thought that Kessel’s offensive ability – a .9 PPG player in Toronto so far, and that’s after this disappointing season – somehow made up for the fact that the Bruins won a Stanley Cup without him, and relying on contributions from only one of the three players they got in return;
  • or who think that Boston’s subsequent mistake in trading away Seguin – which maybe wasn’t a mistake, depending on who you talk to…  somehow makes Burke’s decision more inherently intelligent, as if any GM can predict what any other GM will do after a trade, with those assets acquired in the trade.

All of that should be ancient history at this point. I should stop bringing it up.

What we do know is that, prior to this season, Kessel was pretty much point-per-game player for the Maple Leafs – he was that or better from 2011-2014 – at a time when it’s pretty hard to be a point-per-game player in the NHL. And, this season, he still led the team in points and PPG, despite some struggles – he had a terrible January to April.

Yes, he has a long contract. But he’s not exactly old. And it’s hard to see why a smart team with a legitimate first line centre (i.e. not a Bozak) wouldn’t want someone of Kessel’s ability on their team, provided they have the cap room.

Actually, I think it’s fairly conceivable that someone would make cap room for a player of Kessel’s ability. I think it’s only in Toronto where Kessel is perceived to be lazy. Smart executives on other teams know different. Kessel will never, ever, ever be even a poor man’s Selke candidate, but that’s not why it would be a valuable addition to any up and coming NHL team. He might even be the offensive piece that tips a team over the top.

Why am I speaking as if we know he will be traded for sure? Well, this was Kessel’s team. Sure it was also Phaneuf’s, but Kessel was Burke’s bid to get a franchise player without having to wait to draft one. That bid failed – Kessel clearly cannot do everything by himself – and it’s necessary to acknowledge this by moving on from the Kessel era. Also, I really liked Detroit’s old “Lidstrom rule” – the idea that no one on the team could earn more than Lidstrom while he was still around. I feel like team’s probably do have beliefs like this that we don’t know about. I feel like as long as Kessel is a Leaf, there’s a defacto “Kessel rule” that nobody else will make as much as him, because it’s his team.  I hope the Leafs will have some kind of future well before the summer of 2022 (maybe in 2020?) and I would like to think they can afford to supplement this core with free agents and not have to worry about whether or not they are paid more than Kessel. (Of course, the cap will be higher. This might all be moot.)

I think it’s culturally the thing to do. No more Kessel, no more Phaneuf says that this is a new era even more than firing Nonis, all the coaches and a whole bunch of scouts.

(Of course, if Kessel wants to stay – and I can’t imagine why he would the way the media beats up on him – and wants to contribute as something other than the team’s best player, that is another story. But that’s a conversation that should happen ASAP if it hasn’t happened already.)

Nazem Kadri, 24, C:

  • 18G, 21A for 39P, -7 in 73 games; 17:36 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 21G, 29A for 50P, -2; 17:44 ATOI
  • RFA
  • Drafted by Brian Burke 7th overall in 2009

Kadri was the Tavares consolation prize. And after worrying everyone that he was a bust for a few years – in part because we Leafs fans are idiots and in part because the Leafs treated him like every other prospect and brought up and sent him down ad infinitum – he made “the Leap.” However, that Leap came from a ridiculously high shooting percentage and since Kadri has been putting up second line type numbers.

But there’s a caveat or, rather, a couple.

  • For one thing Kadri has regularly been handed fairly terrible line-mates – though that has changed over the years.
  • For another thing, despite being clearly better than Bozak, he has never been given the #1 spot for more than a few shifts at a time.

So we don’t really know what he would do playing with an offensive player like Kessel for 82 games.

We do know that he is a fantastic possession player, despite his lack of first line offense (so far). The behavioural issues may or may not be real – I suspect they are a least a little manufactured – but he’s still young and he’s the only forward on the team that is both young and can drive possession in the way that teams are focusing on now.

It strikes me as a far more obvious choice to retain Kadri than JVR. Even if Kadri never becomes a legitimate first line centre in the league, it’s clear he’s a legitimate second line centre. And if the Leafs can extend him at a reasonable salary, it’s at least tempting to view him as the #2 to Nylander’s #1 once Nylander enters the league – and provided Nylander proves to be as good as he looks, a point per game player as an 18-year-old in the SEL (or whatever it’s called now), and then a point per game player at the same age in the AHL. (All of this is not even considering the Leafs’ 4th overall pick this summer.)

Let’s put to rest that this guy is a bust. Even without getting into “Computer Stats” – thanks Joe! – Kadri is 6th in his draft class in goals, 10th in assists, and 8th in points, all while playing in significantly fewer games than everyone above him on that list – with the exception of Craig Smith, who has one more goal than Kadri in 27 more games. Of players to have played in at least 250 games since 2010-11 while still being 24 or younger as of February 1, 2014, Kadri is 20th in points per game. All the while, often having shitty linemates and generally not getting opportunities to star for the Leafs. I think that’s pretty impressive.

A keeper.

Roman Polak, 28, D:

  • 5G, 4A for 9P, -22 in 56 games, 21:05 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 3G, 12A for 15P, -5; 19:15 ATOI
  • UFA in 2016, Cap Hit of $2.75 mil per season
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis for Carl Gunnarsson and a 4th round pick (Ville Husso)

Nonis made a number of stupid decisions during his tenure, but among the trades he made perhaps none was more mindbogglingly stupid than trading Gunnarsson plus a pick for Polak, a demonstrably worse player. Certainly one of the many causes of this disaster of a season was that Gunnarsson was now playing depth D for the Blues, instead of handing Top 4 minutes in Toronto.

The problem for the Leafs going forward here is it’s hard to see how they are going to move Polak for much prior to his contract expiring. The best thing to do would be to try to get someone to take him as a depth D near the 2016 trade deadline, I think. But who knows. It’s hard to see a modern, educated front office wanting to give up much for Polak, a depth D on one of the worst teams in the league.

Leo Komarov, 28, C/LW:

  • 8G, 18A for 26P, 0 in 62 games, 14:42 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 10G, 18A for 28P, -1; 14:23 ATOI
  • UFA in 2018; $2.95 mil per season
  • Drated by John Ferguson Jr. 180th overall in 2006

Fan favourite Komarov was brought back after he bolted to Russia in 2013, presumably for more money. I find his salary a little high, but that’s probably unreasonable given the constant cap increases.

Komarov does what he does very well and frankly I see no need to move him unless he’s threatening to go back to Russia again or the Leafs cannot move their NTC players and need the cap space.

It’s good to have people like him around, no?

Peter Holland, 24, C:

  • 11G, 14A for 25P, 0 in 62 games; 14:31 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 13G, 13A for 26P, +3; 12:47 ATOI
  • RFA in 2016, Cap Hit of $0.775 mil per season
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis with Brad Staubitz for Jesse Blacker, a 2nd round pick (Marcus Pettersson) and a 7th rounder (Ondrej Kase)

Holland had a career year this year, offensively anyway. And that’s because he was entrusted with almost double the minutes he had ever been given before. Young, cheap, dependable players like this are well worth keeping.

Next year will obviously determine what kind of money they have to fork over to retain him, and only then will it make sense to think about extending versus moving, unless of course the Leafs think he is good for the younger players.

Stephane Robidas, 37, D:

  • 1G, 6A for 7P, +8 in 52 games; 17:04 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 5G, 17A for 23P, +1; 20:19 ATOI
  • UFA 2017; Cap Hit of $3 mil per season
  • Signed by Dave Nonis in 2014

Ugh.

Robidas was one of my favourite players after he dominated the Stars last decent playoff run. But he is a long way from that now, with serious injury problems and (probably) an untradeable contract. The Leafs may have to sit on this one, though if they traded Clarkson, anything is possible.

What a bizarre signing.

Richard Panik, 23, RW:

  • 11G, 6A for 17P, -8 in 76 games; 11:39 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 11G, 11A for 21P, -10; 11:56 ATOI
  • RFA this summer
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis via waivers on October 9, 2014

The decision on whether or not to retain Panik probably has as much to do with deciding as to how to fill out the roster next season as it does with evaluating Panik’s own potential as a bottom six. I mean, if the Leafs are tanking that means they must populate the roster with borderline NHL players – is Panik one of them or not? He actually had his worst PPG this year, so that suggests maybe he is a little something more and the circumstances contributed to his lack of success.

I feel like players like him are pretty common. On the other hand, he’s very young.

I don’t really have an opinion.

Joffrey Lupul, 31, LW:

  • 10G, 11A for 21P, – 10 in 55 games; 15:29 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 25G, 26A for 49P, -9; 16:21 ATOI
  • UFA in 2018, Cap Hit of $5.25 mil per season
  • Acquired by Brian Burke with Jake Gardiner and a 4th Rounder (Fredrik Bergvik) for Francois Beauchemin

Goddamn you Nonis. Lupul is overpaid and always injured. Who could have possibly seen that coming? Not just me, mind you. I’m sure everyone but Dave Nonis and the rest of the Leafs front office saw this coming. Lupul and his agent probably saw it coming. An oft-injured player just shy of 30 coming off a career year. Oh yes, let’s sign him to a long term deal! (Lupul couldn’t believe his luck no doubt.)

And now, with Lupul once again experiencing injury trouble, but this time also seeing his worst PPG since he was in Edmonton and his lowest ice time since coming to the Leafs, it’s hard to imagine who wants this guy. Seriously, why would you trade for him?

My hope is that Lupul is healthy in the Fall and goes on a bit of a tear. But I doubt it.

David Booth, 30, LW:

  • 7G, 6A for 13P, -8 in 59 games; 11:56 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 20G, 18A for 38P, -4
  • UFA
  • Signed by Dave Nonis in July 2014

Obviously we all know Booth’s career as a top 6 forward is long over. The question is he valuable as a bottom six. That’s a possession numbers question, which I am too lazy to answer.

My concern is that players like Booth are a little too expensive compared to some younger just as talented players.

I see no need to re-sign him unless there’s a discount.

Trevor Smith, C:

  • 2G, 3A for 5P, -9 in 54 games; 11:04 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 7G, 8A for 16P, -10; 11:08 ATOI
  • UFA
  • Signed by Dave Nonis in July 2013

It is perhaps a testament to the Leafs’ current state that Smith played in a career high number of games this season.

He’s cheap, anyway.

Eric Brewer, 35, D:

  • 2G, 3A for 5P, -4 in 18 games; 20:12 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 7G, 16A for 22P, -8; 21:53 ATOI
  • UFA
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis with a 5th Rounder in 2016 for Korbinian Holzer

The Leafs got a 5th Round pick for Holzer by taking on Brewer’s contract for a few months. I think that’s what happened. I would be really, really surprised if Brewer is re-signed.

He should probably retire.

Tim Erixon, 23, D:

  • 1G, 0A for 1P, -5 in 15 games; 15:48 ATOI
  • Career AHL 82-game average: 8G, 54A for 62P, +6 (ice time not available)
  • RFA
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis off waivers on March 1, 2015

Erixon has established himself as a strong offensive D in the AHL, but has yet to be able to stay up with any NHL team. I’m not sure 15 games on a terrible team is a good try out. But if they didn’t see anything there’s no reason to keep him.

If, on the other hand, they need a cheap option for a tank at the #6 spot, perhaps Erixon’s the guy.

Joakim Lindstrom, 31, C:

  • 1G, 3A for 4P, -7 in 19 games; 10:03 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 11G, 13A for 24P, -18; 11:52 ATOI
  • UFA
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis with a 6th rounder in 2016 for Olli Jokinen, March 2, 2015

Lindstrom has only played 150 games even though he is 31. He was the price the Leafs had to pay for getting a 6th round pick for Jokinen – a player whose career is pretty much over.

I can’t imagine he’d be back.

Andrew McWilliam, 24, D:

  • 0G, 2A for 2P, -6 in 12 games; 15:24 ATOI
  • Career AHL 82-game average: 2G, 9A for 11A, +18 (ice time not available)
  • RFA
  • Drafted by Cliff Fletcher 188th overall in 2008

McWilliams is a 7th D at best, probably. A defensive D in an era where it’s becoming more and more important to move the puck.

I could be totally wrong. It’s not like I’ve seen him play.

Zach Sill, 26, C:

  • 0G, 1A for 1P, -2 in 21 games; 8:34 ATOI
  • Career 82-game average: 1G, 3A for 4P, -9; 8:58 ATOI
  • UFA
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis with a 4th Rounder this year and a 2nd Rounder in 2016 for Daniel Winnik.

Sill has managed to play 83 games in the NHL since 2013. He has literally no offensive ability.

A depth guy who has “truculence.” No reason to keep him. Dime a dozen. (I was unhappy that he was acquired by the Leafs in the first place.)

Stuart Percy, 21, D:

  • 0G, 3A for 3P, -4 in 9 games; 18:05 ATOI
  • Career AHL 82-game average: 4G, 23A for 28P, +3 (ice time unavailable)
  • Rookie two-way deal
  • Drafted by Brian Burke 25th overall in 2011

Percy has the distinction of being the only Maple Leaf draft pick I saw play live before he was drafted. (So clearly he should be honoured.) I remember thinking he was the best player in that Majors game. And so I’ve always had a soft spot for him even though Burke went slightly off the board to acquire him.

I am cautiously optimistic that Percy will turn into a viable NHL player. And he’ll be around for a while anyway.

I think the smart thing to do would be to throw him to the wolves a little bit next season. Give him a regular role on the team and see how he fares.

Brandon Kozun, 24, RW:

  • 2G, 2A for 4P, -3 in 20 games; 7:55 ATOI
  • Career AHL 82-game average: 23G, 30A for 53P, +6 (ice time not available)
  • RFA
  • Acquired by Dave Nonis for Andrew Crescenzi on January 22, 2014

Kozun is a successful AHL Top 6 forward but this was his only chance in the NHL to date. He obviously didn’t impress but didn’t get much time either. I guess he could be an effective bottom six next season if the price is right.

Who knows.

Sam Carrick, 22, C:

  • 1G, 1A for 2P, +1 in 16 games; 6:29 ATOIT
  • Career AHL 82-game average: 15G, 24A for 39P, +20 (ice time not available)
  • Rookie two-way deal
  • Drafted by Brian Burke 144th overall in 2010

Though he’s still young, Carrick hasn’t even managed to be a Top 6 forward in the AHL. He racks up the penalty minutes which is likely why Burke drafted him.

Hard to see him making an impact for the Leafs in the future.

T.J. Brennan, 25, D:

  • 0G, 1A for 1P, -7 in 6 games; 16:49 ATOI
  • Career AHL 82-game average: 19G, 36A for 55P, +4 (ice time not available)
  • Minor league deal
  • Reacquired by Dave Nonis for Spencer Abbot on February 26, 2015

Brennan has been a very productive D in the AHL for a while now. He has made it into just over half a season’s worth of NHL games since he was drafted. A minor leaguer.

That ends the list of players to play at least 100 minutes with the Leafs this season and who are still under contract. It’s a list that makes me look forward to this summer’s draft and to think hard about what the Leafs should do next season. (I say tank.)

There is obviously some potential in the Leafs organization not on this list (specifically Nylander) but the cupboard looks pretty bare when you focus on the pro team. All I can say is that I hope to not have to be publishing a Campaign to Fire Brendan Shanahan in the coming years. I am optimistic though, given what has transpired since Carlyle’s firing.

Again my apologies for publishing an unfinished version of this post.

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