The Leafs won Monday, and it was a different kind of game for them on two fronts: first, they won, for just the second time this year. Second, they did so while being mostly dominated by a Stars team that is just absolutely stacked in comparison to the Leafs. Great game for James Reimer who essentially stole the win by himself.
It was actually a pretty entertaining game. Seguin and Benn are just fun to watch, and second-year player John Klingberg looks like a superstar on their defense with his Karlsson-eque moves. The Leafs line of Kadri, Van Riemsdyk and Komarov were good, while the rest of the forwards were decidedly terrible – at least from a possession standpoint, though Lupul did net two goals.
For the Leafs, it is ironic that they pick up their second win of the season in probably one of the worst overall games they’ve played so far, but such is hockey.
Best Part of the Game:
Morgan Reilly had three points, which is nice, but him and Hunwick were destroyed by a Dallas first line by the tune of 26 shot-attempts to 11. Still, he is fun to watch every night and seems to be on the verge of stardom. Excepting when Gardiner and Phaneuf hit the ice with Kadri and his line, the Leafs did not have a defensemen with a positive Corsi rating last night.
The best player of the game, as is the usual so far this season, was Kadri. He drew three penalties, got an assist, had two high-danger scoring chances, four scoring chances overall, and despite the Leafs being annihilated when he wasn’t on the ice, he posted a 52% CF rating for the night.
In a nice change of pace, the broadcasters even acknowledged how good he played, and the Score even ran a post saying that he was the best player on the ice.
Worst Part of Game:
The worst part of the game – besides allowing so many shots – had to be Benn’s stick to the groin of Kadri. Almost as bad (but not quite) as hearing the in-game analysts refer to +/-.
That looked painful.
The Leafs have recalled goalie Antoine Bibeau to replace the injured Jon Bernier.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) November 3, 2015
I look forward to seeing how he does in his debut, but honestly I imagine that unless Reimer has a meltdown, Bibeau won’t see any game action just yet. Bibeau was a sixth-round pick of the Leafs back in 2013.
The Leafs – starting Reimer – will be back in action tonight against the Jets at the ACC. The Jets are off to a decent 7-4-1 start and will likely be dangerous coming off of a 5-1 pummeling by the Canadiens on Sunday.
People need to stop saying the Leafs are “like an expansion team,” because expansion teams are not equipped with a Gardiner, a Rielly, a Bernier, JVR or Kadri. Given the solid outlying numbers of the supporting cast, Babcock’s tendency to balance lines, and the preponderance of numbers which will more than likely start going in their favor eventually, the Leafs don’t appear, today, to be a team likely to end up in the bottom-five at the end of the season. Trading Van Riemsdyk would ensure that that happens, while adding potentially another blue-chip prospect to the team’s coffers.
If things go right for the Leafs, opening night next season could see them dressing Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, William Nylander and Kadri along with Rielly, Gardiner and a solid goalie in Bernier manning the net. The fact that the Leafs – less than a year into their rebuild project – are one player away from an absolute dream scenario is pretty crazy. Tanking doesn’t guarantee you get Matthews, but winning guarantees that you don’t. The Leafs need to take the necessary steps improve the probabilities of drafting him and moving JVR seems like the safest way to do that.
It would also pay off because you’ll get a lot for him, and because there would then be a ton of top-line ice-time for another player to parlay into a solid season and net the Leafs another asset.
Therefore, by trading Van Riemsdyk, the Leafs can get:
- A blue-chip prospect to add to their collection.
- They get worse now, ensuring a higher draft pick later.
- The players who benefit from taking JVR’s ice-time will have opportunity to establish more trade value.
- The savings on JVR’s $4 million cap-hit can allow the Leafs to sell cap-space for more assets, as almost half the NHL’s teams are in cap trouble.
When trading a single player is all but guaranteed to pay off in four separate ways, i becomes a move that the team cannot afford to ignore. Yes, he’s one of their best players and likely to help the team in the future if he stays, but the Leafs MUST move Van Riemsdyk.
Thanks for reading.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.