Toronto Maple Leafs Dodge a Bullet and ALL-Time Team a Joke

Toronto Maple Leafs eyeing KHLer Alexander Barabanov (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs eyeing KHLer Alexander Barabanov (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs are having quite the eventful faux off-season.

The Toronto Maple Leafs can’t play any games, they can’t make any trades or sign any NHL Players, but that hasn’t stopped them from improving their team for next year.

Two excellent KHL players have become available since the NHL season shutdown, and the Leafs got both of them.

But there’s lots to talk about, so I’m just going to meander through the latest news and tell you what I think.

Toronto Maple Leafs Russians

The Leafs signed two of the best KHL players to one-year, sub-million dollar cap-hit contracts.  By all accounts, both of these players should have no problem stepping into the NHL.

Though I don’t want to hype up players I’ve never even seen beyond a few youtube videos, these moves are extremely important for the Leafs.

Mikko Lehtonen and Alexander Barabanov may or may not be able to move the needle in the NHL, but if they do it’s a bonus.  While the upside is  a nice bonus, the reason for signing them is that they are guaranteed to be above replacement player quality for the league minimum.

Part of the reason the Leafs were confident it wouldn’t hurt them to lock up their core players to deals that take up most of the salary cap is knowing that these types of players would be available to them.

If the Leafs can’t re-sign Ilya MIkheyev, they’ve got his replacement. If they can sign him, now Andreas Johnsson can be replaced for a third of the money.

TSN All-Time List

These lists are fun, and they start conversation.  No one list is ever going to be “right” and the point is just to enjoy talking about the history of your favorite team.

From that standpoint, it’s a great list.

But man, it’s so typical of hockey analysis in general –  it pays attention to numbers without context (talking about you, Rick Vaive), and it rewards championships way too much, even though it’s a team sport. (Again, no context).

14 out of the players chosen were from the pre 1967 expansion era.

I mean, the Leafs haven’t won a cup since, so I get the thinking that went into this, but i don’t approve of it.

Stanley Cups were a lot less valuable when you had a one in six chance to win one, instead of a one in 31 chance.

With roughly 15% of the league becoming champs ever year, winning back then shouldn’t carry the same cache as it does now.   Today we do this and it’s wrong, but it’s even worse doing it with the pre-expansion era.

For example, I think it’s completely irrelevant that Kyle Clifford has won a Stanley Cup – if he isn’t  a good player on the ice, he won’t help the Leafs.

So applying this thinking to players who had the same odds of winning as rolling a random number on a single die seems specious, at best.

I also have a problem with being beholden to positions.  If the Leafs have 9 great defensemen, put them on there.  If you can’t find a spot for Dougie Gilmour, put him on the wing.

Sorry Syl Apps, Mats Sundin is the best player in Toronto Maple Leafs history.

Sorry Rick Vaive, but Sundin’s 41 goals at the height of the Dead Puck Era are equivalent to about 65 the year you scored 52.

Daryl Sittler, Doug Gilmour, Phil Kessel, Ian Turnbull, Morgan Rielly, Tomas Kaberle are all ridiculous players to leave off.

Mitch Marner, John Tavares, William Nylander, Jake Gardiner, Dave Andreychuck, Curtis Joseph, could all arguably have been better choices than half the guys on there.

Dodging a Bullet

I remember when the Toronto Maple Leafs lost Brendon Leipsic in the expansion draft. I was kind of bummed because I thought he was an effective player.

Looks like the Leafs dodged a bullet there.

If you didn’t hear, what happened was that someone exposed Leipsic for being the worst kind of jock cliche, when they released dozens of screen shots  displaying the terrible personality of a rich kid who bypassed school to play hockey for a living.

As usual, all you can hope for in this situation is that by having this conversation we all learn to be better people.  And in a sport that constantly venerates the importance of “character” (usually for made up reasons like said player is good at body checking and seems to always try hard) it’s important to point out when a player – through his own actions – shows himself to be completely devoid of it.

Next. Dear Leafs: Do Not Trade This Player. dark

Whether it’s his disgusting sexism, or his terribly embarrassing non-apology, Leipsic’s shame can be hopefully be a lesson to us all to treat each other better.