We’ve discussed the identity of the Toronto Maple Leafs and what we can expect on a regular basis from them. Today we will do some in-depth analysis on each Leaf player from the goaltending right up to the 1st line players, a grade will be given and a explanation as to why that grade is given. Below will be a grading system so that everyone reading can understand in a sense as to what the player is being graded on.
10 – Overachievement of goals, and played extremely better then peers
9 – Achieved goals and played at a higher level then peers
8 – Achieved goals, while playing at the same level as peers
7 – Achieved most goals, while playing at same level as peers
6 – Achieved 80% of goals, while playing at a level slightly below peers
5 – Achieved 50% of goals, while playing at a level 50% below peers
4 – Achieved 40% of goals, while playing at a level 40% below peers
3 – Did not achieve majority of goals, while being in and out of the lineup
2 – Did not achieve majority of goals, while being a healthy scratch 90% of the time
1 – Did not play
Frederik Andersen: 7 – Frederik Andersen has always been a shaky starter in October, he really worked hard in the off-season to hopefully change that. Andersen started off the season with a solid 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens, where he made 34 saves in a very convincing opening night win. Things then kind went south. Andersen in his next 3 starts gave up 3, 4 and 3 goals respectively, which really started to take a toll on his Goals Against Average. Andersen then had a solid outing against Washington only giving up 2, then superb start against Pittsburgh only giving up 1 goal on 38 shots and back to 3 against St. Louis and then a superb outing against Winnipeg on Wednesday. So far inconsistency has gotten the best of Andersen but he looking like he is turning a corner.
Garrett Sparks – 5 – Garrett Sparks is a hard one to rate, he’s only made 2 NHL starts both he won. First game his team scored a touchdown against Chicago and he looked shaky to say the least. But the 2nd against Los Angeles he looked like a superstar only allowing one goal and making 33 saves. Sparks needs to work on his game at the NHL level, it’s one thing being AHL goalie of the year and being backup and eventually a starter in the NHL.
Igor Ozhiganov – 6 – The majority Ozhiganov’s goals were set with the learning curve of playing a North American style of hockey. But Ozhiganov hasn’t looked out of place except for one game. Solid defensive game with a nice outlet pass and a bomb of a shot. We haven’t seen the bomb as much but Ozhiganov doesn’t get much offensive zone time. I would expect to see this number go up as he continues to grow.
Travis Dermott – 6 – Dermott brings a solid two-way game. Although this year he hasn’t been given much of an opportunity to use the offensive game. Very little offensive zone time and rarely powerplay time has seen Dermott’s ability offensively diminish. But expect this number to go up as the season goes on.
Martin Marincin – 2 – Marcincin brings what he always has a good stick and reach. But his skating is something to be laughed at and decision making abilities are less then 0. Expect to more of Justin Holl throughout the season.
Justin Holl – 2 – The rating is not Holl’s fault. He has not been given a chance to play and has been the odd man out of the rotation that was happening between Marincin and Ozhiganov at the beginning of the season. Expectations are Holl will get his chance if he is patience.
Nikita Zaitsev – 6.5 – He’s been much better then last season, where turnovers and lack of defensive coverage were his demise. This season he come out looking more like his rookie season in Toronto. But turnovers are still a damper to him and his defensive partner Jake Gardiner.
Ron Hainsey – 5 – Hainsey has struggled defensively this season although the last few games he has looked like he is turning a corner. Turnovers in October/November seemed to have become a thing for him, whereas usually he is a sturdy defencemen. Only 2 ways to go for Hainsey either he’s just in a rough patch and it will turn around or age has finally caught up to him.
Jake Gardiner – 6 – Gardiner has looked basically the same as any other year except with the newly formed powerplay he is getting less opportunities in the offensive zone. The last few games Gardiner has taken it upon himself to create scoring chances, which can be a great thing or totally disastrous. Look for Gardiner to begin to revamp his game to create more 5 on 5 opportunities for himself.
Morgan Rielly – 9 – Rielly is finally living up to the bill of the 2-way defenceman they drafted. Still young so it was never really a worry but Rielly has really vamped things up this season, especially offensively. But his defensive game is reminiscent of Duncan Keith, good spacing, great stick and a nice box out to go along with a fantastic skating ability. 16 points in 13 games is making Rielly a real stud this season, expect more.
Andreas Johnsson – 3 – Johnsson was a very strong player last year in the AHL and even in his callup to Toronto late in the season. But this season he is struggling to find his groove. Last season averaged 2 shots a game this season not even one, he hasn’t been using his speed or deceptiveness. Don’t expect Johnsson to stay this way all season, he’s dynamic expect him to find it. Tonight was the first step back to it.
Tyler Ennis – 3 – Ennis had a strong pre-season and then Kasperi Kapanen took his job, because he wasn’t performing with Matthews. He needs to use his speed to be effective and go to the corners. A 4th line with Ennis playing well could be a very good 4th line.
Frederik Gauthier – 4 – Gauthier isn’t expected to score very much, but he is expected to win draws and be a thorn in the other teams side. He’s been in and out of the lineup. More of a defensive specialist.
Josh Leivo – 4 – Leivo is a very disappointing player for me. He has such talent but can’t seem to bring it together all at one time at the NHL level. Big shot but can’t hit the net. He’s been put in all the right situations to succeed. Been kind of a let down.
Connor Brown – 4 – Brown has really underperformed so far this season with only a Empty Net goal to his name. Brown needs to play his game in the corners with his speed. Let his ability do the work. Brown will come around and find some scoring touch that the Leafs desperately from their bottom 6.
Par Lindholm – 5 – Lindholm was a great find for the Leafs overseas, he was brought over for his faceoff ability and his defensive game. The Leafs need a little offence out of him for sure, but he is learning the North American game so some slack is cut.
Patrick Marleau – 5 – Marleau has had an underwhelming start to his season scoring only his 2nd goal of the year last night in Dallas. Both goals coming on the man advantage. Marleau is being looked at as a 2nd option right now on the powerplay but with Matthews out will get more looks. Expect Marleau to easily break out of this slump and hit somewhere between 20-30 goals again this season.
Zach Hyman – 7 – People will laugh at this rating because they will say Hyman only has 6 assists on the season. How in the world is he rated higher than Patrick Marleau amongst others. Well, let me explain. Hyman does all the little things that don’t show up on the score sheet such as all the corner work, net presence, blocks shots, penalty kills on top of being on pace for 38 points. Hyman comes as advertised each game, works his tail off every game. Respect is given where respect is due and that’s one of those situations.
Kasperi Kapanen – 8 – Kapanen since being drafted by the Penguins in the 1st round 22nd in the same draft as fellow Maple Leaf William Nylander, has had to fight his way to the NHL. Penguins didn’t deem him worthy of a roster spot but remained patient with Kapanen, until they made him apart of the Phil Kessel deal. Kapanen has been in and out of the Leafs roster for the last 2 seasons now but made an impact 2 years ago against Washington in the playoffs and again last season. This season he was a shoe in for a roster spot, especially considering the Leafs cap crunch and the Nylander hold out. Kapanen started on the 4th line with Andreas Johnsson and Par Lindholm, but quickly jumped up to the top line to play with Auston Matthews and Patrick Marleau. Kapanen’s speed, physicality and willingness to go to the corners this season has made him a real star so far, scoring 6 goals and 4 assists in 13 games. Babcock is beginning to trust the kid more and he will be a mainstay in this lineup. Expect him to continue to score maybe not at the pace he is now but Kapanen brings a lot to the Leafs.
Mitch Marner – 10 – Marner, there is so much to say about this kid and not enough time to say it. Let me break it down into 3 things.
- Hockey IQ is off the charts! If you not familiar with what that means a very simple definition would be, the ability to read a play before it happens and the ability to determine the how the opposing players will react to a certain situation. All this is done in a split second and then to be able to react to that accordingly.
- On-Ice Vision is as if he has superpowers. Watch as Marner takes that puck takes a step forward knowing it will open up a seam and boom over to Tavares and in the net or watch as he knows that they are expecting him to pass and he takes advantage of that and boom in net. Finally watch his ability to spot any player coming from anywhere and get to their stick through tons of traffic.
- Speed combined with stickhandling is scary. Most analysts call this have the puck on a string, it just seems to stay on his stick and never leave until he wants it too.
All this to say Marner has come out flying, scoring 16 points in 13 games. This is what your going to be getting for the next however many years. This kid is a stud. Oh and by the way he LOVES PLAYING IN TORONTO.
John Tavares – 9 – Tavares has been everything advertised, good faceoff guy and 2-way player who really has a knack to score. 14 points in 13 games. My reasoning for putting him at 9 is he seems to disappear at times. But Tavares is on pace again for heavy offensive numbers, Leafs look scary good. Just like Tavares has so far.
Auston Matthews – 10 – I wish there was an 11 or 12 on this scale. Auston Matthews revamped his shooting and boy whatever he did it’s been dead on. Unfortunately being out for a month will hurt his MVP chances (It’s early, I know). But 16 points in 11 games before the injury. Let me tell you 3 things that have made Matthews so successful this season.
- Those hands are filthy. Another one of those guys who has the puck on a string, he makes the puck do whatever he wants. Watch him control the game just by cradling the puck, it’s quite magical.
- Laser shot. Whatever Matthews did over the offseason, it worked wonders he puts the puck wherever he wants to. It’s almost as if he tells it to go and it goes there.
- Defensive ability. When you play against Matthews you better be ready for a 200 foot press. Matthews is relentless backchecker, especially if he is the one who loses the puck.
- Not afraid to go to the dirty areas. Matthews does what he got to do to score, sacrificing his whole body and it has worked. The shoulder injury is a freak injury. Just hit the wrong spot.
Nazem Kadri – 5 – Kadri started off the season very slow, my thoughts are he was trying to find his identity on the team again. 1st powerplay unit, penalty killing and a 3rd line center role. But he embraced it and has become good at agitating other teams. Hard on the forecheck and gritty. Now after 13 games he’s gotten 7 points and with Matthews injury an increased role. Expect more from Kadri and a better rating at the half way point.
These are my rating for the Maple Leafs 13 games into the season. Will re-evaluate again at the half way point.