In this edition of Toronto Maple Leafs’ News & Rumors, I’ll take a look at what watching the Stanley Cup Final might mean for the Maple Leafs as a team. Second, I’ll look at speculation about who the team might lose in the postseason and why.
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Finally, I’ll look at Spencer Carbery and share a rumor that he’s up for the head coaching position with the Boston Bruins.
Item One: Colorado Dominance Could Bode Well for Maple Leafs
It’s hard to cover the Maple Leafs without thinking about what the current Stanley Cup Final might mean for the team. At this point, it’s also hard not to think about my old work colleague at the University of Alberta and best friend Larry Beauchamp.
Before Larry was a professor, Dean, and Vice President at the U of A, he was interestingly (because the Avalanche are located in Denver) a goalie for the University of Denver (in 1962-63) and a head coach for Memorial University (winning the Atlantic University Sports Coach of the Year in 1971-72). Larry used to say that playing good defense is simply a matter of hard work and commitment.
That’s what I’m seeing on display with both these teams, but especially with Colorado. The Avalanche are extremely hard to play against.
For me, the Stanley Cup Final makes me believe the Maple Leafs can commit themselves to playing the kind of defense that pressures the opposition into mistake after mistake. They need speed and commitment. In short, the Game 2 Avalanche were so dominant that they almost gifted Darcy Kuemper with a freebie. He only had a little work to do for his 14-save shutout.
Again, for me right or wrong, it also solidifies my belief that the Maple Leafs have the pieces to win the Stanley Cup and should “stay the course.” They need to improve and coach the final touches that push this team over the top. Obviously, changes must be made; but, those changes aren’t about flipping personnel. They are about coaching, commitment, and creating the kind of depth play that’s so regularly on display with these two teams.
In short, the Maple Leafs must become a more challenging team to play against. They must be more committed to keeping the opposition out of high-danger ice and give up fewer high-percentage shots. They need to build more imposing depth players that simply won’t quit applying the pressure and who can produce secondary offensive.
Aren’t David Kampf and Ondrej Kase the poster children for that kind of player?
Item Two: Two Maple Leafs Players Most Likely to Leave
In a recent post, the LeafsNation’s Jon Steitzer shared two Maple Leafs’ players he believed most likely destined for new teams next season. He also noted that the team should be able to both get decent value out of these players’ departures as well as increase their salary-cap space.
Player One: Alex Kerfoot
Alex Kerfoot is versatile and plays in ways similar to the kind of player I alluded to in the first part of this post. He can provide secondary scoring (putting up 50 points) and he also can play good defense and kill penalties.
That said, he’s only signed for another season; and, he’s attractive because, after his signing bonus is paid on July 1, he costs the team that picks him up only $750,000 for the rest of the season. He’s good value for his $3.5 million salary-cap hit.
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However, Kerfoot has a 10-team, no-trade list. Still, he could be a good fit with another NHL team and there’s probably a team waiting for him to become available. For his sake, because he’s from Vancouver, I’m hoping he’s able to find a home either with the Seattle Kraken or back in Vancouver with the Canucks.
Player Two: Justin Holl
From what I read from many fans, losing Justin Holl will be something that should have happened a long time ago. However, that might be more of a fan perspective than something that’s shared widely around the NHL or within the team. When Holl enters free agency, you can bet there will be suitors.
Holl is a valuable commodity because he’s a right-shot, experienced, minutes-eating, steal of a deal, $2 million defenseman. Those are hard to come by. Also, similar to Kerfoot, he, too, has a 10-team, no-trade list.
What’s Next for the Maple Leafs?
The 40-year-old Carbery is known by the organization because he was an assistant coach with the AHL Providence Bruins in 2017-18 before the Washington Capitals hired him to become the head coach of the AHL’s Hershey Bears.
From what I see, Carbery has been a strong addition to the Maple Leafs’ coaching staff. Last season was his first time working behind an NHL bench. Good luck to him should he move.
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The Old Prof (Jim Parsons, Sr.) taught for more than 40 years in the Faculty of Education at the University of Alberta. He’s a Canadian boy, who has two degrees from the University of Kentucky and a doctorate from the University of Texas. He is now retired on Vancouver Island, where he lives with his family. His hobbies include playing with his hockey cards and simply being a sports fan – hockey, the Toronto Raptors, and CFL football (thinks Ricky Ray personifies how a professional athlete should act).
If you wonder why he doesn’t use his real name, it’s because his son – who’s also Jim Parsons – wrote for The Hockey Writers first and asked Jim Sr. to use another name so readers wouldn’t confuse their work.
Because Jim Sr. had worked in China, he adopted the Mandarin word for teacher (老師). The first character lǎo (老) means “old,” and the second character shī (師) means “teacher.” The literal translation of lǎoshī is “old teacher.” That became his pen name. Today, other than writing for The Hockey Writers, he teaches graduate students research design at several Canadian universities.
He looks forward to sharing his insights about the Toronto Maple Leafs and about how sports engages life more fully. His Twitter address is https://twitter.com/TheOldProf