Post-Draft and Free Agency Preview: Concern brewing within Leafs Nation

photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

photo courtesy of the Toronto Star

When the JVR rumours were circulating Friday afternoon Leafs Nation hoped that GM Dave Nonis was not about to trade a top line player and the 8th overall pick for the 1st overall selection.

It is understandable that the Nonis wants to upgrade on the blueline but JVR has a great contract and excellent chemistry with Phil Kessel. Unless the Leafs are getting a similar return, it would not be wise to get trade a proven player for a player that has potential to be great.

Nick Kypreos and Don Cherry were not too thrilled with the Leafs decision to draft William Nylander

Of course Don Cherry was upset with the Leafs not drafting a Canadian like Nick Ritchie. His frustration is understandable because the Leafs have been incapable of taking the next step and it is killing Grapes. In the Leafs defence they did try to move up to select that standout Canadian but it did not make sense for the organization.

The Leafs were not able to swing a deal for the 1st overall pick and seemed to be content in choosing William Nylander, son of Michael Nylander with the 8th pick overall. Many were excited to hear that the Leafs picked up one of the more creative and skilled forwards in the draft. Now the Leafs had already gone down that route with the Nazem Kadri, a dynamic scorer who has a lot of talent and potential. Now Kadri still has time to prove that he is that dynamic offensive player but the Leafs have to take the mistakes with Kadri and avoid doing it with Nylander.

The Leafs were right in giving Kadri another year to develop in the OHL before making the jump to the NHL. However Kadri was called out by Ron Wilson on his defensive play and Dallas Eakins spent time with Kadri to fix those defensive problems. However the Leafs did not draft Kadri to become a dynamic two way center, they wanted a gifted offensive player and now they hope Nylander will be that player. The Leafs have to be careful in their approach to Nylander, let him play to his strengths and make him conscience of playing a two way game. The plays who dominate the possession stats have the puck and keep it in the offensive zone, one of the strengths that Nylander possesses.

The next move that the Leafs made was trading Carl Gunnarsson along with a draft pick to St. Louis for Roman Polak. Now I think the Leafs should have received a 5th-7th round pick with the deal but it was obvious that the Leafs wanted to move out Gunnarsson. Polak is an upgrade on what they hoped Mark Fraser would provide because of his size and skating ability but Gunnarsson was also a capable 3/4 defenceman that had chronic injury issues. Shanahan discussed the trade and said that he talked with people who have seen Polak play, so that he can understand the type of player the Leafs were getting. It sounds like Shanahan finds the players and asks Dave Nonis to get the deal done.

So how does this affect the Leafs moving forward? The Leafs expressed interest in signing Martin Brodeur to back up Jonathan Bernier. Now the first question Leafs fans should ask themselves is whether Brodeur will take a back up role with the Leafs while he can still get jobs with teams like Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Boston provide Brodeur with the better chance of going deep in the playoffs. Shanahan has said that he is interested in bringing in Brodeur but I would guess that it would have to make sense financially for the Leafs especially with other holes to fill on the roster.

Then there is James Reimer who has been treated like a wounded dog ever since Jonathan Bernier was acquired last summer. Obviously the Leafs are comfortable with Bernier being the number one and this Brodeur rumour basically confirms that Reimer will not remain with the Leafs. It is sad given that Reimer basically gave his heart to the Leafs and now he knows that it is time to move on. This was apparent after the Leafs lost the season finale 1-0 and Reimer was visibly emotional knowing that he probably played his last game as a Leaf. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBlF-Z6ykJ8). It has been reported that Reimer wants to be traded out of Toronto and Dave Nonis should do the decent thing and give Reimer a good situation to move on to.

It is very unlikely that Dave Bolland will re-sign with the Leafs he is most likely heading to Florida because they seem to have the money to overpay him with. Leafs fans will be upset to see Bolland leave but a 3rd line center should not make $5 million especially with the criticism that David Clarkson is receiving. So the Leafs should look at a player like Dominic Moore who for the advanced stats people had much better stats then Jay McClemment and he can slide into a 3rd or 4th line center role. With Peter Holland it would make more sense then paying $5 million for Dave Bolland for 8 years.

The concern brewing in Leafs Nation is the uncertainty of what is in store for the Leafs. There has been no drastic changes made, management remained untouched, Carlyle stood tall as the lone survivor of Shanahan’s demolition derby, and the only changes came with the departures of Gunnarsson and Gleason.

It did not get any better as the Leafs attempted to pursue rival defencemen Josh Gorges from Montreal who refused to waive his no trade clause to come to the Leafs but Shanahan for some stupid reason continued to pursue him relentlessly. Leafs Nation hoped for more of a change and many have voiced their frustrations on Twitter.

@Hope_Smoke (https://twitter.com/Hope_Smoke) a respected blogger on twitter who tweets out daily updates from TSN radio and the Fan590 had a rant of all rants. The tweets below argues that Leafs management blame for lack of leadership was not the undoing for the Leafs and he had enough of it.

Then there is Steve Dangle who is the managing editor of  who has some pretty hilarious video rants about the Leafs. Here are some examples of tweets and videos.

Leafs Nation will have to sit back and wait for the Leafs to get out of the war zone and hopefully the Leafs learned from their mistakes and will actually start to use the younger players in the system that have earned their chance to play with the Leafs. The LA Kings and Chicago Blackhawks have done that and they have 4 Stanley Cups over the last few years. Draft the players and give them the chance to prove themselves because they will be the driving force to a Stanley Cup. Look at how close the Marlies have come to a championship, let these younger players play.

This will be a true test in how Shanahan wants the Leafs to operate and hopefully he can show Leafs Nation that he has a plan set in motion because right now things are tense in Leaf land.

 

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About morassd94

Sports fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Dallas Cowboys and the Toronto Blue Jays. Musician; piano and drums. Enjoy playing classic rock especially the Beatles, and Led Zeppelin.
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