Rumor Roundup: Leafs’ Kadri, Wings’ Kindl, and Panthers’ Boyes could all be on the move

Nazem Kadri

The Toronto Maple Leafs have improved since suffering lopsided back-to-back losses against Buffalo and Nashville, finishing November by winning three of four games. While that’s silenced most of their critics, it hasn’t keep them out of the rumor mill.

On Monday, Darren Dreger told TSN 1050 he will be surprised if center Nazem Kadri is still with the Leafs by the trade deadline. Dreger feels Kadri hasn’t reached the level of consistency GM Dave Nonis expects of him.

The young center is slated to become a restricted free agent in July. His previous contract talks dragged on into training camp before a deal was reached. Read more

Forget Toronto. It’s time to troll Boston for the Tyler Seguin trade

Matt Larkin
Tyler Seguin, left, is dominating the league just like he was projected to do when picked second overall in 2010. (Getty Images)

It’s funny how the Phil Kessel trade produces the same cycle of debate, year after year.

Tyler Seguin gets hot, Bruins fans taunt Maple Leafs fans for the trade that sent Boston the pick that became Seguin No. 2 overall in 2010.

Phil Kessel gets hot, Leafs fans smugly remind Bruins fans Kessel is among the game’s pre-eminent goal scorers and thus was worth every asset surrendered.

Bruins fans remind Leaf fans to include Dougie Hamilton in the discussion. Leaf fans fall awkwardly silent.

Enough already. There’s nothing more to say. Kessel is a truly elite sniper, albeit an inconsistent one, and the Leafs paid dearly to get him. In the end they got a player who may end up their all-time leading goal scorer in exchange for what were unknown commodities – draft picks – at the time. Seguin is every bit the star he was supposed to be on draft day, and Hamilton has the makings of a franchise defenseman. Every major player in the trade is excellent at hockey. We get it.

And besides, there’s one significant detail that makes the entire “THANK YOU KESSEL!” debate moot: Tyler Seguin doesn’t play for Boston anymore. It’s time we turned our attention to the trade that made him a Dallas Star. And it’s time for Stars fans to rachet up their “THANK YOU ERIKSSON!” chants.

Read more

Powerful special teams a bright spot for the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Hockey News
Maple Leafs featured

By Namish Modi

Toronto’s domination in special teams played a big role in their 6-2 win over the Washington Capitals Saturday night.

The Maple Leafs, now 12-8-3 on the season, converted on three of four opportunities with the man advantage to break a dry spell dating back to their thumping of Boston on Nov. 12. Cody Franson, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul provided the power play goals, reviving a Leafs’ unit which had only one marker in their past 23 opportunities.

“It was nice to see our power play finally came to life and created some offense in the hockey game for us,“ said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle.

The Leafs lack of recent production with the man advantage prompted forward Nazem Kadri to be tried as a defenseman on the power play Saturday night. While the 24-year-old didn’t make a huge impact directly from the point, it was obvious there was change needed just to kick start the Leafs’ play in the situation.

“Yeah, that’s what happens when you change things up, you just look for different looks, try to create some energy towards the power play,” said Kadri. “I thought we were controlling the puck pretty well, sometimes simplifying is the best way to do it.”

Toronto, who tied for fifth place in power play percentage last season, has struggled out of the gate this season with a 18.5% success rate coming into Saturday’s game; 18th in the NHL.

“I think we did good things on our power play tonight, we were moving the puck, we were getting through to the net, “ said forward David Clarkson, who added an even strength marker. “Not every night you’re going to score on the power play, that’s today’s game. But I think tonight we did a good job on it and we’ve got to build from there and keep moving forward.”

Toronto’s puck control 5-on-4 was much improved over the past few games as was evident by Bozak’s goal on Capitals netminder Braden Holtby late in the second period, making the game 5-1 and putting it out of reach for Washington. The goal came off a slick feed from Phil Kessel.

“I think we spread them out and we moved the puck around and it wasn’t really one-dimensional,” said Carlyle. “We worked from both sides of the ice and we’ve become predictable as of late, always wanted to work one side. If you noticed, the puck was changing sides and we were able to spread people out with it, and found an open guy back in front of the net”

Toronto’s potent power play wasn’t the only special team on display this night, as their penalty kill was also stellar keeping the league’s second best power play unit in check.

Troy Brouwer did score on the Caps’ first power-play of the night midway through the second cutting the lead to 3-1, but the Leafs did the job on two other two kills shutting down Washington. Star forward Alex Ovechkin was kept in check all night long, especially on the power play where he has six goals this season.

The Leafs’ penalty kill came into the game with an 84.2 percent rating, ninth in the NHL, a vast improvement over their 28th place finish last season, where the Leafs’ kill was 78.3 percent. Their performance last season came off the heels of a showing in 2012-13 where Toronto had an excellent penalty kill, second in the league, operating at 87.9 percent. Toronto made the playoffs that season.

“Goaltending is the main thing, our goalies have been great on it. Look at guys like Leo Komarov and Daniel Winnik, who do the bulk work on the penalty kill,” said Bozak. “They’re guys that work hard, they block shots, they’re guys that will out work the opponent whenever they get the chance, so, obviously its not fun to play against guys like that, and they’re doing a great job”

Recent American League call up Korbinian Holzer also contributed in penalty kill situations and appears to be gaining the trust of Carlyle only two games into his recent stint with the big club. The 26-year-old has been stellar in all situations thus far.

“Just for me, blocking a shot is like scoring a goal. So, doesn’t matter who blocks the shot, if you sacrifice the body it’s as huge as scoring a goal or setting up a big goal, “ said Holzer. “We got a lot of good penalty killers in here, it’s just a great unit all around, and obviously great goaltending, you need that.”

The Leafs are finally enjoying success on home ice

The Hockey News
New Jersey Devils v Toronto Maple Leafs

By Craig Hagerman

The Toronto Maple Leafs treated their fans to another blowout Saturday night, this time hanging a 6-2 beating on Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals.

And with every ‘W’ the Leafs seem to chalk-up on home ice, the more the embarrassing 9-2 loss on the same Air Canada Centre ice to the Nashville Predators a week and a half ago seems to become a distant memory. Read more

Toronto Maple Leafs honor Pat Quinn with touching video tribute

Jared Clinton
The big screen outside the Air Canada honors late NHL great Pat Quinn (Getty Images)

There are few teams that put together a tribute as well as the Toronto Maple Leafs. On Saturday night the team honored late coach Pat Quinn, who spent seven season as Leafs bench boss, in their first home game since his passing on Sunday, Nov. 23.

The tribute, a retrospective on all of Quinn’s accomplishments throughout his career, also honored the late Murray Oliver who passed on the same day as Quinn. Read more

Cody Franson making Toronto Maple Leafs’ decision tougher with recent play

The Hockey News
Cody Franson. (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)

By Craig Hagerman

Before being held pointless in the Toronto Maple Leafs last two contests, defenseman Cody Franson had been riding a nine-game point streak (two goals and nine assists), the longest of his career and, at the time, the longest in the NHL. The numbers are great news for the player and team right now, but could very well result in Franson, an impending unrestricted free agent, leaving town if he and the Leafs can’t get a new deal done.

Franson, a Sicamous, B.C. native, has 14 points through 20 games and is on pace to collect 56 points, which would be by far his most productive season. He’s a plus-7 on the season, which is a huge improvement from his team-worst minus-20 in 2013-14. During the Leafs embarrassing 9-2 pounding at the hand of the Nashville Predators last week, Franson was actually even. Read more

Rumor Roundup: Blueliners plentiful in upcoming UFA crop

Marc Staal (Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images)

ESPN.com’s Craig Custance recently listed his top-20 NHL unrestricted free agents for 2015. What’s notable about Custance’s list, apart from the lack of genuine superstar talent in next summer’s UFA market, is that it’s dominated by defensemen.

The notables include Anaheim’s Francois Beauchemin, Boston’s Adam McQuaid, Carolina’s Andrej Sekera, Chicago’s Johnny Oduya, Pittsburgh’s Christian Ehrhoff and Paul Martin, Toronto’s Cody Franson,Washington’s Mike Green, the Rangers’ Marc Staal and the Islanders’ Johnny Boychuk. Read more