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Leafs: Do We Risk Change?

Posted 11:05 AM ET | Comments 18
Let’s face it, with how inconsistent this team has been over the course of this year (and the last 2), we can basically be assured that Ron Wilson will not be the coach of the future for the Toronto Maple Leafs. His “systems” make for some exciting hockey, but the run n’ gun offense will not survive in today’s NHL. Players these days have far too much skill and a goalie cannot be expected to stop odd man rush, after point blank shot, after breakaway, on a nightly basis. His system relies on speed, and puck movement, which is very tough to keep up consistently. To be maintainable, the players need adequate rest and recovery time, because if they show up gassed, the game is as good as lost (as we have seen too often this year). Even if we somehow make it to the playoffs, the intensity and frequency of the games will not allow us to make it out of the first round. So what do we do?

As I have already stated, Wilson needs to go. He refuses to change the system, and the system doesn’t work. Stubbornness is fine, when the product produces. His doesn’t, end of story.

So let’s assume that he is gone at the end of this year. So what should be done with the current roster? Do we sell the assets or buy more? One thing is for certain, we are not interested in mortgaging the future for any player, aside from a bona-fide top line winger or centre (preferably centre).

In the past month I have heard everything from “sell the farm for Nash/Parise/Ryan/Getzlaf/Staal/etc…” to “Trade away everyone of value (Kulemin, Mac, Connolly, Grabovski, etc…) for picks and prospects!”. The possibilities to buy are out there, although it would probably cost more than most Leaf fans would like to give up. Selling would most likely prevent a playoff appearance not only this year, but quite possibly the next too. A tough situation to be in for Burkey.

My idea is to do none of the above. With a new coach comes a new team. There may be no changes necessary to produce a winner with the team we currently have. With a ne w system, players can break out in ways we have yet to see (Lupul is the perfect example). Other players may have been held back by Wilson’s offense first system (i.e. Schenn).

One of the bigger concerns fans have had is with who we have between the pipes. It may seem shocking to most of you, but this is not nearly my biggest concern. I am quite happy with the progress of our goalies (my personal favourite is Gustavsson, but by no means does that mean I don’t value Reimer). Yes, I realize that the numbers have not been great, but I cannot completely fault the goalies on this. Both have managed to maintain above a .900sv% so far this year, despite a complete lack of defensive structure. Both goalies are hung out to dry on a nightly basis, and given the lack of support I would like to give them a fair shot.

A perfect example of how a goalie’s fortunes can change would be when looking at the Phoenix Coyotes. Ilya Byzgalov was a Vezina runner-up in Phoenix’s system (just last year), which plays tight defensively and supports their goaltender. Since leaving the team, he has struggled mightily, his numbers dropping from a .921sv% from last year, to just .900sv% this year.

On the other side, take a look at Mike Smith. This was a goalie that struggled regularly during his time in Tampa. Just last year he posted an .899sv%, only to have his numbers jump to an astounding .928sv% under Phoenix’s defensive system.

Granted, I don’t expect this drastic of a change should Toronto switch to a more defensively responsible system next year, but my point is Who Knows!? Who knows what our team will look like at all should we bring in a new coach with a new system? Will we regret letting guys go like Kulemin, Grabovski, or Schenn? Will we regret trading the farm for a guy like Rick Nash?

Personally, I would rather re-evaluate the team under the coach that will shape the future of this team. I am all for holding off until next year before any drastic changes are made. Others may think that enough is enough and a playoff appearance is needed now. I am willing to hold off if it is good for the future. What say you?

Filed Under:   Leafs   Wilson   Toronto   Maple   Ron   Burke   Brian   Nash  
February 21, 2012 11:22 AM ET | Delete
Leafs will not make the Playoffs with there current roster,to weak up the middle to soft on the boards and the questionable goaltending that they have. If by a fluke they were to get into the playoffs, it would be over for our buds in 4 games.
February 21, 2012 11:27 AM ET | Delete
Agreed, but I think that is the result of our system. I don't think we have seen the true potential of the Leafs just yet.
February 21, 2012 12:26 PM ET | Delete
As much as it pains me to say it (again), this is not the year the Leafs make the playoffs. While I think Burke has done a great job restocking the Leafs' prospects, made some excellent trades and retaining draft picks (recently), there is still LOTS of work to do. That said, I think that it would be a critical error if the Leafs' grossly overpaid for Nash or Carter etc at this time. As good as both players are, neither Nash/Carter is "the answer" or "the difference" for this team.
February 21, 2012 1:19 PM ET | Delete
Doesnt make sense. You guys just extended Wilson, bet you $$$ BB doesnt fire Wilson. BB has no choice but to make a daring trade.
February 21, 2012 1:27 PM ET | Delete
This guy is GOD! Start planning the Parade route now!
February 21, 2012 1:40 PM ET | Delete
@Kevin R - Have had that argument a bit now. A 1 year contract was made so he doesnt focus on contract negotiations while they make a push for the playoffs (limits Wilson's excuses). If he doesnt make the playoffs hes gone. If you don't think so, why wouldn't Burke have signed him to 3 years if he had so much faith?
February 21, 2012 2:36 PM ET | Delete
@stevecarpetman Responses that are too long show up blank. Break up the point into multiple posts or summarize it.
February 21, 2012 2:40 PM ET | Delete
It won't let me delete it
February 21, 2012 2:45 PM ET | Delete
I did.
February 21, 2012 3:04 PM ET | Delete
you just dont resign then buyout. I think you have him until at least Dec of next year if things are bad. Dont understand why he did a 1 year either, no sense.
February 21, 2012 3:15 PM ET | Delete
Yea Burke might do that. He could fire him because his expectation was to make the playoffs. If he doesn't fulfill that need, it's justification for him being let go. If we make the playoffs, then I would understand Burke keeping him. I wouldn't agree with it, but I would understand it.
February 21, 2012 6:36 PM ET | Delete
First step is to get rid of Komo before any major move is done .If he could be apart of bringing in a 6 mil man O.K.
February 22, 2012 7:39 AM ET | Delete
Finally a smart analysis of leafland. and by smart, I mean agreeing with me. I think Gustavsson has potential to be a decent starter and Reimer a decent backup. Take a look at how well goalies do after they leave Toronto (Giguere). I think there are problems with both the system and the current roster. I think the best move now would be trade Kessel for Nash and build on that.
February 22, 2012 2:14 PM ET | Delete
Kessel for Nash? Trade youth for veteran with a big contract who isn't scoring more than Phil? That wouldn't improve us where we need it right now. The trade I like to see is Grabbo and a pick/player for Bernier and Penner...that would address several of our issues of which I think Gustavson has run out of forgiveness.
February 22, 2012 10:17 PM ET | Delete
I'm guessing JoeyMac reads the Sun. The always reputable Steve Simmons mentioned the same idiotic idea.
February 23, 2012 5:40 AM ET | Delete
Never opened the rag. Nash > Kessel, but with Kessel having a hot year, you might get a taker for this. Leafs have lots of other great young players that would mesh well with a veteren presence. I love the idea of getting Bernier in, but I don't think any goalie would look good behind this team right now.
February 23, 2012 10:31 AM ET | Delete
Change the system (coach), then we will see the real issues with this team. Why risk fixing something when it may not be broken?
February 23, 2012 12:41 PM ET | Delete
Yes, Nash can be a more dominant player than Kessel... but is he worth 2.4m more? I don't think so. The cap era changed the dynamic from simple talent (who is better) to value (which player produces better for their salary), and Kessel is providing better value and will likely continue to do so until his next contract.
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