Forums/Armchair-GM

My thoughts on the Leafs

Created by: BallPuckFellow10
Initial Creation Date: Sep. 24, 2021
Published: Sep. 25, 2021
Team: 2021-22 Toronto Maple Leafs
Team Explanation
If Matthews is healthy and we don't make any moves, I think this likely is what we are going to see opening night. For all the critics saying the Leafs have taken a step back, I completely disagree. GMKD didn't add any big names, and we lost Hyman, but I think we brought in nice pieces to replace him and to retool our lineup a little bit.

I think our strongest lineup to finish last year was:

Hyman-Matthews-Marner
Galchenyuk-Tavares-Nylander
Foligno-Kerfoot-Mikheyev
Thornton-Spezza-Simmonds

If you compare that group to what we have now, I don't think we are significantly worse, we are just a bit different. Obviously Hyman is better than Ritchie, Bunting, Kämpf and Kase individually as a player, but you have to factor in the contract he got as well. Today, I think he is worth his money ($5.5M), but I wouldn't want to be stuck committing that kind of money to him when he is 34, 35 and 36 years old. I think the right call was made here. I really liked Galchenyuk and I hope he gets a contract in Arizona and becomes a decent top nine NHL player again, but let's be real, he won't be missed in terms of his quality on ice. Foligno will be one of the biggest what-if's. He looked good initially, but got hurt and clearly wasn't healthy enough to perform in the playoffs. I think we made the right choice to move on and not commit closer to $4M for his services. While I think everyone loves Jumbo, his fit as a Maple Leaf was weird. It seemed like he could stick anywhere, he had 10 points in his first 10 games, but then he just went ice cold. I wish him all the best in Florida. I think you can have one of Spezza and Thornton, both together just didn't seem to work.

With the players we added, I think some clear messages have been sent. Kerfoot is never going to be a shutdown centre anymore for the Leafs. He can still play centre, but will do so in a more offensive role, like he had in the playoffs when JT was out. He just didn't work out as that defensive 3C. Kämpf was brought in for just that. Kerfoot will now start the season on the wing, but if there are injuries to Matthews or JT, we know we have someone that can slide in and play top 6 centre minutes without problem. I think management also are all in with our defense group. They didn't add anyone, so like Dubas has said numerous times on his PC's, he believes that we will have a lot of internal growth from our younger players. Sandin will continue to take steps, Liljegren will get more games as he now is our 7th defenseman and Dermott will be back to playing around 17 minutes a night and kill penalties. He will also be the natural choice to slide into the top four if injuries occur. The Leafs are also done committing big money to a starting goalie and will now go the tandem route which many teams have switched to over the last few years, something I personally agree with as well.

I really like the initial look of our lines. I want to start with discussing our 3rd line. It is well known that Leafs management really liked Danault and the kind of game he plays. That is why they signed Kämpf, someone they believe can be ''the next Danault.'' Lot of people seem to want the Leafs to build a complete shutdown line with three defensive minded players centred by Kämpf. I personally don't think that is the way to go. Danault was arguably the best defensive centre in the league last year, but he played with two offensive minded players in Tatar and Gallagher. While I by no means think that Kerfoot and Kase are as good as Tatar and Gallagher, there are some similarities in their skillsets. I think that Leafs management wanted to create their own version of that line. Danault, Tatar and Gallagher had dips in point production, but the way they drove play while being on the ice was amazing, and I really believe that the Leafs third line can do the same thing while playing against the oppositions best players.

I really like the addition of Bunting as well. People shouldn't expect him to come in and score 25 goals and 60 points, but he will come in and work extremely hard every night, just like Hyman did. Once he got called up to the NHL last season, he made an instant impact and stayed on a line with Schmaltz and Garland. Initially it looks like he is going to get a chance to play with Tavares and Nylander which I think is the perfect fit for them and also an upgrade for Bunting. I think this is going to be one of the best second lines in the league.

Ritchie looks like he will get a chance to play with Matthews and Marner, and I agree with this. However, I am pretty concerned about his foot speed. That line made it work with Thornton last year for stretches, but Thornton also posses an elite mind and reads the game just as good as anyone ever has done which you can't say about Ritchie. I like the physicality he brings, and his ability to find the ''soft areas'' around the net for a scoring opportunity, but I am scared that he won't be able to keep up with Matthews and Marner. I really hope I am wrong here. I think Mikheyev could be serious option if the coaching staff quickly realizes that Ritchie won't work. He has the skillset to be a complementary top six forward in my opinion, but his finishing ability leaves much to be desired. He can definitely ''hunt'' pucks like Hyman did so well and keep up with Matthews and Marner, but I am not sure if his hockey-IQ is high enough to be a longterm option. I was really surprised he didn't manage to beat Jimmy Vesey last year out of camp for a top six spot next to Tavares and Nylander and when he after a few games got his chance, he didn't do anything to prove he was worth keeping there. He was successful in his rookie campaign although it was a really small sample size (39 games), but hasn't been able to find that sort of consistent production since. Now, he is most likely going to start the season on the 4th line in an even more limited role, which is unfortunate for him. I really do wonder if management should have ''gambled'' and let him have a chance to start the season on the top six rather than signing Ritchie and made a potential trade if it didn't work out. Time will tell with this one, but I am not sold on Ritchie being our 1LW yet.

I am very aware that the Leafs have been rolling with different line combinations now during camp, but I just think the coaching staff is experimenting a little bit. The line of Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Nylander is something I could see potentially in games when we want to switch it up or when there are certain injuries. Kerfoot and Nylander showed that they can play really well together in the playoffs. Ho-Sang is getting some time with Tavares and Bunting, but I don't think Ho-Sang will be on the roster on opening night. Firstly he has to earn a contract, secondly, I think he has to wait for an opportunity either due to an injury, or someone having a real dip in form. I don't think there is anything negative to have him play with the Marlies to get comfortable again, rather than sitting in the press box every night. That is just my humble opinion. Gusev has been skating with Kämpf and Kase, and while I can see a fit there for him, I just don't think we are going to sign him, I can obviously be wrong here. But is we go by the training camp lines, our lineup would look like this:

Ritchie-Matthews-Marner
Bunting-Tavares-Ho Sang ($750K)
Mikheyev-Kerfoot-Nylander
Gusev ($750K)-Kämpf-Kase

This would mean that Spezza, Simmonds and Engvall won't make the lineup and that two of those three would have to be sent down in order for us to be cap compliant. I just don't see that happening at all. Having this lineup with Spezza and Simmonds as scratches while having six defensemen (Rielly, Brodie, Muzzin, Holl, Sandin, Dermott) dressed would put the Leafs $169K above the cap ceiling. So like I said, I think it is likely Ho-Sang starts in the AHL, and that Gusev potentially doesn't even get a contract.

On the defensive side of things, they have also mixed up the pairings a bit, which I also think is experimental. Rielly has been skating with Dermott, Muzzin with Liljegren, Brodie with Sandin and Holl with Dahlström. I don't think this means that Holl now is our 7th defenseman, I think the purpose behind it is to see who works together when a potential injury occurs. Dermott is sort of a Brodie ''lite'' if you will and he will likely get chances in the top four as soon as something happens. Liljegren with Muzzin is really interesting. I think Muzzin is the prefect partner for him to settle into the league with. Sandin and Brodie could be a potential future look for beyond this season if Rielly doesn't extend and Holl and Dahlström could be a sort of shut down pair if Muzzin potentially goes down to an injury. Like I said, I think these are all line combinations and defense pairings for when we have to change things around, but our most likely opening lineup is listed below.

As for the PP, I like the new looks that the Leafs have been trying. I have been dying for the Leafs to put Marner in the bumper position in the 1-3-1 just like Point plays for Tampa. Nylander has a much better shot from outside while also being extremely deceptive on the half wall. It seems like him and Marner are going to be very fluid and rotate a lot to try to cause confusion between penalty killers. I like it a lot. Matthews will be on the opposite side while JT will be the net front presence. I think it is pretty open for the point position, but I want Rielly to start there over Sandin. The 2nd unit could be anyone really, but it would obviously include one of Rielly/Sandin, Ritchie as net front and Bunting in the slot. Kase could very well get one spot on the half wall while Spezza and Kerfoot battle it out for the other spot.

PK is pretty straight forward. Kämpf will likely just replace Hyman, with the rest staying pretty much the same. Dermott will get a bigger role here this year.

Let me know what you guys think.
Retained Salary Transactions
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ROSTER SIZESALARY CAPCAP HITOVERAGES TooltipBONUSESCAP SPACE
21$81,500,000$81,419,783$0$0$80,217

Roster

Left WingCenterRight Wing
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Ritchie, Nick
$2,500,000
LW
UFA - 2
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Matthews, Auston
$11,640,250
C
UFA - 3
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Marner, Mitchell
$10,903,000
RW
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Bunting, Michael
$950,000
LW
UFA - 2
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Tavares, John
$11,000,000
C
NMC
UFA - 4
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Nylander, William
$6,962,366
RW, LW
UFA - 3
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Kerfoot, Alexander
$3,500,000
LW, C
UFA - 2
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Kämpf, David
$1,500,000
C, RW
UFA - 2
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Kase, Ondrej
$1,250,000
RW
RFA - 1
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Mikheyev, Ilya
$1,645,000
LW, RW
UFA - 1
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Spezza, Jason
$750,000
C, RW
UFA - 1
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Simmonds, Wayne
$900,000
RW, LW
NTC
UFA - 2
Left DefenseRight DefenseGoaltender
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Rielly, Morgan
$5,000,000
LD
NMC
UFA - 1
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Brodie, TJ
$5,000,000
LD/RD
NTC
UFA - 3
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Campbell, Jack
$1,650,000
G
UFA - 1
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Muzzin, Jake
$5,625,000
LD
NTC
UFA - 3
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Holl, Justin
$2,000,000
RD
NTC
UFA - 2
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Mrázek, Petr
$3,800,000
G
NTC
UFA - 3
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Sandin, Rasmus
$894,167
LD/RD
RFA - 1
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Dermott, Travis
$1,500,000
LD/RD
RFA - 2
ScratchesInjured Reserve (IR)Long Term IR (LTIR)
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Engvall, Pierre
$1,250,000
LW, C
RFA - 1
Taxi Squad
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Hutchinson, Michael
$725,000 ($0)
G
UFA - 1

Special Teams

Power Play 1
Marner, M.
Tavares, J.
Matthews, A.
Nylander, W.
Rielly, M.
Power Play 2
Bunting, M.
Ritchie, N.
Spezza, J.
Kase, O.
Sandin, R.
Penalty Kill 1
Kämpf, D.
Marner, M.
Muzzin, J.
Holl, J.
Penalty Kill 2
Kerfoot, A.
Mikheyev, I.
Dermott, T.
Brodie, T.

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Sep. 25, 2021 at 12:15 p.m.
#1
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This will be Mikheyev's last chance with the Leafs, I can see if he gets sent down to the bottom 6, Dubas will do him a favor and move him, like Dubas set free Barbie and Lehtonen last year.

You left out Brooks, he will get pick up on waivers, so I think he makes the team, sort of like Timashov did 2 years ago. Brooks is a good player and can center the 3rd line if ever given a realistic chance.

Gusev will probably not sign a 2 way 750K contract like a Ho Sang would. My bet is Gusev is looking for a $1 million deal and no chance he'll go to the Marlies. So no contract for Gusev.

Either 1 of Kase or Bunting will end up as a failed experiment.

I think if Sandin's can play like a Top 4 Dman, Dubas will listen to trade offers on Reilly, only if a player under contract is involved.
Sep. 25, 2021 at 12:33 p.m.
#2
Sweet Lou
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Don't get me wrong, I love Zach Hyman in every shape and form, but the problem I saw was that he had to take many roles, and by taking the specific role, he can't have another role at the same. You want a pest, you got it, but it limits his offensive ability. You want him to be a shutdown player? Sure, but now you can't use him as an offensive player. With Ritchie, Kampf, Bunting, and Kase, we have players that filled the role Hyman had, but we're not sacrificing anything. You want a shutdown player? Here is Kampf. You want a pest? Here is Bunting. You want someone to hit everything that moves? Here is Ritchie. You want two elements on the same line like an offensive player and someone who hits, here is Kase and Ritchie
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Sep. 25, 2021 at 12:33 p.m.
#3
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Quoting: draft_em_sign_em_trade_em
This will be Mikheyev's last chance with the Leafs, I can see if he gets sent down to the bottom 6, Dubas will do him a favor and move him, like Dubas set free Barbie and Lehtonen last year.

You left out Brooks, he will get pick up on waivers, so I think he makes the team, sort of like Timashov did 2 years ago. Brooks is a good player and can center the 3rd line if ever given a realistic chance.

Gusev will probably not sign a 2 way 750K contract like a Ho Sang would. My bet is Gusev is looking for a $1 million deal and no chance he'll go to the Marlies. So no contract for Gusev.

Either 1 of Kase or Bunting will end up as a failed experiment.

I think if Sandin's can play like a Top 4 Dman, Dubas will listen to trade offers on Reilly, only if a player under contract is involved.


Why is Brooks going to get claimed? There are better players around the league that are going to have to be put on waivers, so expecting him to automatically get claimed is wrong IMO. He could very well be our 13th forward over Engvall, but I have Engvall ahead for now. Why is either 1 one of Bunting and Kase going to fail? What are you basing that on? Rielly won't be traded unless the Leafs suck and are out of playoff contention. He will walk as FA or resign, but he won't be traded if we are in the playoff race. There just isn't a deal out there right now where I can see us getting a return that doesn't make the Leafs weaker. Trading him at the TDL when we are 2nd or 3rd in the division makes little to no sense at all. Absolutely NO NEED to put extra pressure on Sandin this year. There is two reasons for that. Firstly it can backfire really hard. He might not be ready and the team can become worse because of it. Secondly, he might perform really well, which is nice, but then his contract next season will be much more expensive which isn't smart from a business perspective. He will play on the third pair with Dermott, and hopefully they can crush the opponents bottom six lines when they are on the ice.
Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:40 p.m.
#4
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Edited Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:46 p.m.
Quoting: BallPuckFellow10
Why is Brooks going to get claimed? There are better players around the league that are going to have to be put on waivers, so expecting him to automatically get claimed is wrong IMO. He could very well be our 13th forward over Engvall, but I have Engvall ahead for now. Why is either 1 one of Bunting and Kase going to fail? What are you basing that on? Rielly won't be traded unless the Leafs suck and are out of playoff contention. He will walk as FA or resign, but he won't be traded if we are in the playoff race. There just isn't a deal out there right now where I can see us getting a return that doesn't make the Leafs weaker. Trading him at the TDL when we are 2nd or 3rd in the division makes little to no sense at all. Absolutely NO NEED to put extra pressure on Sandin this year. There is two reasons for that. Firstly it can backfire really hard. He might not be ready and the team can become worse because of it. Secondly, he might perform really well, which is nice, but then his contract next season will be much more expensive which isn't smart from a business perspective. He will play on the third pair with Dermott, and hopefully they can crush the opponents bottom six lines when they are on the ice.


For Brooks, I don't know if the NHL will be doing another expanded roster taxi squad, so I don't know if the Leafs will be forced to send him down (he has developed enough with the Marlies, no point believing he needs more time there, unlike a Robertson who does).

I'd rather see Brooks as 3rd line C, than Kerfoot, the $2.75 million difference could have helped the Leafs in other area's of need(most likely add a Dman in the short term and to give Campbell a raise next season),

As for Bunting and Kase; one was a career Ahl'er and the other was injured for the past 1 1/2 seasons. So failed experiment comment is justified.

Reilly will not be traded, Dubas track record proves that fact, but it would be a good idea. Wrong GM though.

It's so hard to forget that Sandin is still a rookie, though he seems to been around forever.
Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:52 p.m.
#5
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Quoting: draft_em_sign_em_trade_em
For Brooks, I don't know if the NHL will be doing another expanded roster taxi squad, so I don't know if the Leafs will be forced to send him down (he has developed enough with the Marlies, no point believing he needs more time there, unlike a Robertson who does).

As for Bunting and Kase; one was a career Ahl'er and the other was injured for the past 1 1/2 seasons. So failed experiment comment is justified.

Reilly will not be traded, Dubas track record proves that fact, but it would be a good idea. Wrong GM though.

It's so hard to forget that Sandin is still a rookie, though he seems to been around forever.


I don't think your comment regarding Buying and Kase is justified at all. Just because Bunting has been a career AHL:er doesn't mean he can't make the step to the NHL now and you are also completely disregarding how good he looked when he got his chance for the last 23 games. He scored 10 goals and one 3 goal game. There are many players that are way more established that hasn't scored 3 goals in an NHL game. I don't see how Bunting can miss at all. He will literally just come in and work hard and every goal/assist he gets is a bonus. His contract is $900K as well.

As for Kase, I can see why people are concerned due to his injury record. All we can go on now is that he is healthy, and he is a fine hockey player when healthy. A guy like Ho-Sang could slide in on his line if it turns out that he becomes injured again or something else happens. But for now, absolutely NOTHING points to them being a ''failed experiment.''

If you said that one of these two players could end up as a failed experiment, I would agree with you, but you said that one of them WILL end up as a failed experiment, and you can't say that for certain at all. Do you have some inside info that GMKD or his pro scouting or medical team doesn't? If you do, then I believe you, but you don't so how can you say that for certain? We will have to see how this whole thing plays out before we can conclude statements like yours.
Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:54 p.m.
#6
First NY Then LA
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Thanks as always for your VERY well-crafted presentation. As a profession of more than 50 years' experience, I really appreciate good writing, and yours is among the best I have seen on CapFriendly.
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Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:56 p.m.
#7
Leafs suck
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Imo it’s unfair to compare the leafs at the end of last season to the beginning of this season. They have yet to make any mid season trades. If you compare the leafs at the beginning of last season to this season, it’s better. Remember when Thornton and vesey were our top 6 LW’s? Now it’s bunting and kerfoot, (at least that’s what I’d do). The bottom six is better than it was at the start of last year. With all these new guys they brought in, I feel that they replaced Hyman by committee with both his cap hit and everything he brought to the team, which was the right thing to do. Hyman will be at this level for the next 2 years max. I would not wanna be stuck with his current contract, with having almost no depth on the rest of the roster.
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Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:56 p.m.
#8
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Quoting: BallPuckFellow10
If you said that one of these two players could end up as a failed experiment, I would agree with you, but you said that one of them WILL end up as a failed experiment, and you can't say that for certain at all. Do you have some inside info that GMKD or his pro scouting or medical team doesn't? If you do, then I believe you, but you don't so how can you say that for certain? We will have to see how this whole thing plays out before we can conclude statements like yours.


I think you're reading a little too much into his choice of wording. I read this as a prediction, not a statement of finality. All three of us know he can't see into the future.
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Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:57 p.m.
#9
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Quoting: MrDinkiee
Don't get me wrong, I love Zach Hyman in every shape and form, but the problem I saw was that he had to take many roles, and by taking the specific role, he can't have another role at the same. You want a pest, you got it, but it limits his offensive ability. You want him to be a shutdown player? Sure, but now you can't use him as an offensive player. With Ritchie, Kampf, Bunting, and Kase, we have players that filled the role Hyman had, but we're not sacrificing anything. You want a shutdown player? Here is Kampf. You want a pest? Here is Bunting. You want someone to hit everything that moves? Here is Ritchie. You want two elements on the same line like an offensive player and someone who hits, here is Kase and Ritchie


I don't disagree with you at all. I think everyone loves Hyman, but management 100% made the right move to walk away from a deal. I really like the additions we made, the only one I am not sold on 100% is Nick Ritchie, mostly because I am not in love with his fit on the 1st line. I like him as a player and what he brings, but I am not sure if he is what the Leafs need. He isn't a 4th liner, and if he ends up on the 4th line, it isn't great paying someone $2.5M for the next 2 seasons to play that role. I would have either tried to sign someone else or give Mikheyev his final chance as a top 6 forward to start the season before potentially making a trade in season if it didn't work out.
Sep. 25, 2021 at 1:58 p.m.
#10
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Quoting: OldNYIfan
Thanks as always for your VERY well-crafted presentation. As a profession of more than 50 years' experience, I really appreciate good writing, and yours is among the best I have seen on CapFriendly.


I appreciate your kind words my friend!
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Sep. 25, 2021 at 2:29 p.m.
#11
Sweet Lou
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Quoting: BallPuckFellow10
I don't disagree with you at all. I think everyone loves Hyman, but management 100% made the right move to walk away from a deal. I really like the additions we made, the only one I am not sold on 100% is Nick Ritchie, mostly because I am not in love with his fit on the 1st line. I like him as a player and what he brings, but I am not sure if he is what the Leafs need. He isn't a 4th liner, and if he ends up on the 4th line, it isn't great paying someone $2.5M for the next 2 seasons to play that role. I would have either tried to sign someone else or give Mikheyev his final chance as a top 6 forward to start the season before potentially making a trade in season if it didn't work out.


He will be a better third liner than a first liner and would love to see him reunited with his long time friend, Kase. I would even put him on the Tavares and Nylander line to create space. We need Ritchie and his physicality, you should watch some of his hits and he has some scoring touch. Teams will be more cautious when he is out on the ice. However, the problem Bruins fans had with him is his consistency. Everyone loved Ritchie when he is hitting and playing his game. When he's not in his game, he's not effective
Sep. 25, 2021 at 2:35 p.m.
#12
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Quoting: MrDinkiee
He will be a better third liner than a first liner. I would even put him on the Tavares and Nylander line. We need Ritchie and his physicality. The problem Bruins fans had with him is his consistency. Everyone loved Ritchie when is hitting and playing his game. When he's not in his game, he's not effective


I wouldn't want him with Tavares at all. He is too slow and JT's worst attribute is his skating. The line would be so dependent on Nylander carrying the puck every shift or to dump it in deep and go get it. This why Tavares needs to play with two wingers that are above average skaters. Ritchie is below average. Jumbo-Tavares-Nylander didn't work at all and they had negative possession numbers in terms of Fenwick and shots forward and against. Ritchie would likely not work on that line at all.
Sep. 25, 2021 at 2:39 p.m.
#13
Sweet Lou
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Quoting: BallPuckFellow10
I wouldn't want him with Tavares at all. He is too slow and JT's worst attribute is his skating. The line would be so dependent on Nylander carrying the puck every shift or to dump it in deep and go get it. This why Tavares needs to play with two wingers that are above average skaters. Ritchie is below average. Jumbo-Tavares-Nylander didn't work at all and they had negative possession numbers in terms of Fenwick and shots forward and against. Ritchie would likely not work on that line at all.


I feel like the idea of the Nylander and Tavares line should be an 'in the offensive zone' type of line. What Ritchie excels in his ability to score the dirty goals. Shoot the puck at the goalie's chest and he will find a way to put it at the back of the net. The Matthews and Marner line should be bringing the puck into the offensive zone and starting the play. The Nylander line should be continuing the play that was created by Matthews and Marner line
Sep. 25, 2021 at 4:55 p.m.
#14
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Edited Sep. 25, 2021 at 5:23 p.m.
Quoting: OldNYIfan
I think you're reading a little too much into his choice of wording. I read this as a prediction, not a statement of finality. All three of us know he can't see into the future.


Actually I can see into the future, believe it or not years ago I predicted the almost exact correct contract signings of Marner, Kapanen, Johnsson and McElhinney weeks before they actually signed.

And I also predicted that Timashov was going to start with the Leafs, when everyone thought that was crazy and impossible.

If you want I can prove it.

https://www.capfriendly.com/armchair-gm/team/1256687
Sep. 25, 2021 at 5:55 p.m.
#15
First NY Then LA
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Quoting: draft_em_sign_em_trade_em
Actually I can see into the future, believe it or not years ago I predicted the almost exact correct contract signings of Marner, Kapanen, Johnsson and McElhinney weeks before they actually signed.

And I also predicted that Timashov was going to start with the Leafs, when everyone thought that was crazy and impossible.

If you want I can prove it.

https://www.capfriendly.com/armchair-gm/team/1256687


Then tell me who's going to win the World Series and I'll drive to Las Vegas and get bets down for both of us!
Sep. 25, 2021 at 6:52 p.m.
#16
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Quoting: OldNYIfan
Then tell me who's going to win the World Series and I'll drive to Las Vegas and get bets down for both of us!


Brooklyn Dodgers
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