The Leafs are in Nashville tonight to face the Predators after improbably beating the Stars for the second time this season on Tuesday night.
Tonight will see the return to the lineup of Jonathan Bernier, although just in a back-up role. James Reimer will make his sixth straight start tonight. I think he’s been very good in most of them.
Based on look this morning, Daniel Winnik will re-enter Leaf lineup with Brad Boyes coming out in his place.
— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) November 12, 2015
I don’t understand this move. I agree Mike Babcock is probably the best coach in the NHL, but I don’t always agree with every move he makes. I think Brad Boyes has played fine. On Tuesday, the line of Boyes, Byron Froese and Peter Holland was one of two effective Leaf lines, posting positive possession numbers during a game where Dallas out-possessed Toronto significantly.
Even though he is averaging only 12+ minutes per night, Boyes still has five 5v5 points in 13 games and a 54.75 CF%. It is honestly perplexing that they’d scratch Boyes unless he is nursing an injury. I’d play him ahead of Lupul, Spalling or Paranteau.
The other move the Leafs are making tonight is to scratch Martin Marincin while Polak continues to play. This is even worse of a move than scratching Boyes for no reason. Marinicin is a 52% possession player and Polak is, well, Polak. I think the Leafs must have more than considerations than just icing the best possible lineup when they decide who is going to play and who isn’t. Because they pretty clearly are not dressing the best lineup possible.
Rule Change Needed
Back at the start of the season, the Leafs claimed Frank Corrado off waivers from Vancouver. The Canucks only exposed him to waivers because they had to in order to send him to the AHL. It’s a rule designed to prevent teams from hoarding guys who deserve to play in the NHL in the minors, but it has a pretty big downside.
The Canucks were forced to expose him, and the Leafs were only too happy to add a decent defensive prospect in his early 20s to their team. However, the Leafs also have a roster full of NHL (or quasi-NHL depending on your views) defensemen and so he hasn’t been able to play, but they can’t send him down or they’ll just lose him the same way they got him in the first place.
They were able to send him on a conditioning stint, but once that expired, the Leafs were stuck keeping him in the press box. It’s a shame because you don’t get that many years where you’re capable of playing in the NHL and its unfair to prevent a guy from playing.
I get that the team has to protect its assets and that this is a necessary thing to do if they wish to have him on the roster after some players (Polak, Phaneuf, Hunwick) are moved for future assets later in the season. But I also think it’s really unfair to the player, and that the rule should be amended so that a player doesn’t find himself with nowhere to play because of a rule that, while probably necessary, has a pretty high cost to apply. When a team is treating a player as an asset and not a human who’s forced to waste part of his physical prime watching the sport he’s supposed to be playing, nobody wins.
The Leafs should either make a move to clear a lineup spot for Corrado or release him back into the wild.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.