There isn’t much new information regarding the Toronto Maple Leafs to pass along, except for a minor roster move. Centre Peter Holland was demoted to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies while right-winger Carter Ashton was called up.
It seems like a pretty standard swap of fourth-line players that won’t dramatically alter the make-up of the team by any means. However, the Leafs are now left with only three centres on their roster: Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri and Jay McClement. Either Randy Carlyle plans on rolling three centres, playing Ashton or another winger in the middle, or another call up (probably Jerred Smithson) is on his way. I would guess the latter.
Still, Holland is a much better player than Smithson and not having him on the roster makes the team worse. As Jeffler writes, Holland owns one of the best points-per-hour rates on the team, but he’s seen less than 10 minutes of ice time over each of the last four games and less than five minutes on Tuesday. It’ll probably do him some good to get lots of playing time in the AHL.
The Leafs are in North Carolina to take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight. It will be Tim Gleason’s and likely John-Michael Liles’ first games against their former teams. Wes Herrmann of Cardiac Cane already has a preview up, so go check that out. The ‘Canes game in Buffalo on Tuesday was postponed, so they’ve had a little more rest than the Leafs.
To no one’s surprise, there’s still plenty of discussion regarding the newly announced Olympic rosters. Eric T. of SB Nation compares the scoring rates of Sidney Crosby’s wingers when they’re playing with him and without him to try and figure out if Crosby really is “hard to play with”. Almost every single forward on that list plays better with Crosby, as you would expect. It may take some time for Crosby’s wingers to jell with him in Sochi, but that would be true of any player in the NHL.
Adam Gretz, also of SBN, asked the question: “Why do people in charge of Olympic teams construct their team like an NHL roster?” Gretz argues that the idea that some players on an Olympic team need to be “bottom-six grinders” is really a load of bunk. NHL teams employ these kinds of players simply because they have no other choice. The league’s talent is spread across 30 teams and individual teams can only fit a few highly skilled players under the salary cap. Olympic teams, however, are not bound by these same parameters.
Rob Vollman, a writer for ESPN and Hockey Prospectus, wrote a guest post for Phoenix Coyotes blog Five For Howling, breaking each team down using his Goals Versus Threshold stat. Canada is the clear favourite by this measure, with Sweden coming up second, followed closely by the Americans.