Tag: Morgan Reilly

Jake Muzzin Is A Piece Of The Puzzle In Toronto But Not The Whole Puzzle

The trade we have all been waiting for occurred Monday night around 6:00 PM (EST). Jake Muzzin was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs for a 2019 1st round pick, Sean Durzi and Carl Gundstrom. The Leafs have been fishing for another top four defenseman for nearly two years. With this addition of Muzzin it allows the Leafs to play Morgan Reilly-Jake Muzzin, Jake Gardiner-Nikita Zaitsev with a third pair of Travis Dermott-Ron Hainsey. Which makes this Leafs team a deeper team on the back end.

More so looking at the trade, the headline makes it seem like Muzzin is not a good addition, by no means should it come off like that. Anytime you add a Stanley Cup winner, a veteran defenseman and someone to pair with Reilly on a consistent basis is always a plus.

Muzzin is a piece to the puzzle not the whole puzzle, hear me out…

What I mean by Muzzin is not the answer. The Leafs are shaping up to play the Canadiens or Bruins. Now if the Bruins end up being the #3 seed and the Leafs stay at #2 it will be the Leafs worst nightmare, in the past decade it seems the Bruins have had the Leafs number, therefore reason one Muzzin is not the answer is because, well will he propel the Leafs over the Bruins? Probably not, so he does not make a huge difference in that regard.

Reason number two Muzzin may not be the complete answer. My concerns about Frederick Anderson still loom, and I am talking playoff Anderson. In years past and hinting on last year Anderson posted a 3.76 goals against (GAA) in 7 games, .896 save percentage and allowed 23 goals on 198 shots. The previous year Anderson posted a 2.68 goals against in six games, the second year he was in Anaheim he posted a 2.34 GAA in 16 games started after a 3.10 GAA in 7 games started the year before. My point is what Anderson will show up in the playoffs this time around? Yes, getting Muzzin does help on the back end but the goalie still needs to stop the puck.

Concern number three with the Leafs is their very young roster of players coming to play in the playoffs, they have Nazem Kadri, John Tavares, Patrick Marleau and Ron Hainsey with playoff experience but Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and William Nylander have little playoff experience and I know some people say that means nothing but playoffs is a different game. Getting a team like the Bruins, a team that is young but has so many very well seasoned players and a different team when it comes to the playoffs is no easy feat for the Leafs. If the Leafs get the Canadiens than I would feel more confident in their chances of winning.

Can Muzzin be what Shattenkirk was to Washington two years ago?

I believe Jake Muzzin adds a great dimension to the Leafs defense, it allows Morgan Reilly to play more of an offensive game, it allows Jake Gardiner to play more of an offensive game. Therefore it gives these two offensive minded d-men to go out and play their game. It gives Travis Dermott the experience of playing with a veteran like Ron Hainsey. But the Leafs offense still needs to produce. If the Leafs cannot find a way for William Nylander, Kasperi Kapanen, Nazem Kadri to be CONSISTENT than adding Muzzin does not make them automatic cup contenders. The Leafs need to find a way for these young forwards to get into a groove from now throughout the playoffs. If the Leafs cannot get their top-six to be a consistent top-six then they will not be automatic cup winners. Therefore that is why I don’t think Muzzin solves the problem, he is a piece of the puzzle. Look at what happened in Washington two years ago when they added Kevin Shattenkirk to the mix the Capitals needed a offensive-defenseman and they added that but still got bounced early in the playoffs, one player does not make or break a team, they help but the other 17 guys in the line up need to show up too.

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Fantasy Hockey Top Players Of The Week (Dec.17th- Dec. 23rd)

Bryan Rust: The Penguins picked up some wins and so did Rust in terms of fantasy value. Rust plays a very similar style game to Patric Hornqvist, realistically when Hornqvist age starts to show they will not need to worry about replacing him. Rust had himself a big week collecting 4 goals and 2 assists (two game winning goals) in four games this week. Rust has now tallied 8 goals in the last seven games. On the year he has 9 goals and 9 assists. This is a player you will won’t to monitor all year.

Brad Marchand: Marchand is probably happy to have Patrice Bergeron back, the first game back with Bergeron Marchand collected 1 goal and 2 assists, on the week Marchand had 2 goals and 6 assists. Marchand now has 12 goals and 29 assists on the year.

Cam Atkinson: The Blue Jackets only 20 goal scorer and top forward is doing what he does best. Atkinson scored 4 goals this week in four games, two coming vs Philadelphia. Atkinson now has 23 goals and 15 assists on the year. It seems like a 40-goal year for Atkinson.

Morgan Reilly: What a week for Reilly, he sure is making his case for the Norris heard this year. Reilly had 3 goals and 6 assists in four games this week, picking up 4 assists vs Florida and a point or more in every game this week. Reilly has tallied a point in every game for the last 12 games besides one. Reilly now has 13 goals and 31 assists on the year.

Andrea Johnsson: With Zach Hyman hitting the injured reserve (IR) Johnsson was playing with John Tavares and Mitch Marner, picking up more minutes and a bigger role. On the week Johnsson had one goal and 3 assists in four games this week. Johnsson had all four points come in the last two games of the week. He now has 8 goals and 9 assists on the year.

Jordan Eberle: To snap a six-game drought, Eberle collect a goal and an assist vs Colorado (Dec. 17th), on the week Eberle had one goal and three assists. Eberle went pointless in the Islanders Sunday game vs Dallas but he picked up a point or more in every game from Dec. 17th to December 20th. Eberle now has 7 goals and 10 assists on the year.

Free Agents Trending up: Alex Iafallo, Nick Schmaltz, Dylan Strome, Alex Galchenyuk, Eric Gustafsson 

 

Team Preview: Toronto Maple Leafs; Addition of Tavares enough for Toronto to take the next step?

The Leafs for two years in a row punched their ticket tot he playoffs. The Leafs have not made the playoffs in back to back seasons since 2002-2004, before the Leafs drafted Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander, acquired Frederick Anderson they have been known to be the laughing stock of this Atlantic division. Missing the playoffs 10 out of 11 seasons prior to 2016-17 the Leafs did not have much going for them.

Well, with a 4th place Atlantic division finish in 2016-17 and a recent 3rd place finish last season the Leafs are surely on their way up. The Leafs are coming off a 49 win and 105 point season, a lot of their success has been built on their forward depth and Frederick Anderson playing unbelievable minutes. And as we all know with the recent forward signing in John Tavares a lot of Leaf fans and NHL fans believe the Leafs have what it take to make that next step.

In the offseason due to the signing of John Tavares and his 77 million dollar deal the Leafs have parted ways with veteran forward Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak, James Van Reimsydk and defenseman Roman Polak. While adding Tyler Ennis and Jordan Subban, the Leafs sure did give up a good amount to make sure Tavares could come back home. But with the loss of Komarov, Bozak and JVR are the Leafs going to be able to supplement their absence with the presence of John Tavares?

Leafs front end is locked and loaded for a “different” season…

Toronto Maple Leafs Marner and MatthewsWith a line up consisting of Nylander, Matthews and Patrick Marleau they have a very solid and well known first line. If Marleau and Matthews can stay healthy the Leafs will be in good shape. Signing back Nylander is the problem as of now. Now, with a second line of Tavares, Zach Hyman and Marner the Leafs need these two young guns alongside Tavares to help aid the superstar center and really prove their worth in the NHL. Marner has to stay consistent. Last year he went on a small skid, but still was able to tally 69 points In 82 games, we have to assume that playing with Tavares will help keep the young forward on a solid path. Hyman tallied 40 points last season with 15 goals. With Tavares now in the middle of these two the Leafs have a very good and interchangeable 1, 2 punch. The third line with Nazem Kadri, Connor Brown and Kasperi Kapanen the Leafs again not only have a solid shut down line but a line can be of use on the offensive side. 

The Leafs have a great range of ages in the locker room a good mix of young guys, seasoned veterans and also a superstar with 9 years experience now too. The only problem many wonder about is the Leafs defense.

The big question mark for the Leafs: Is their back end capable of a Stanley Cup push?

Morgan Rielly Maple LeafsOn the back end the Leafs have Morgan Rielly and Ron Hainsey. Sure, Hainsey is 37-years-old but he has played in a consist 80 plus games 4 of the last 5 seasons and a 37-year-old who sees d-pairing one minutes does a fine job at it too. He tallied 23 points last season the most he has had since 2009-10. Reilly as we know has questions about being a number one defenseman but he does a great job on the power play and also logs major minutes on top 52 points. Rielly is coming off his best year and it will for sure not slow down with this new wave of confidence the Leafs have. Throw in Jake Gardiner and Nikita Zaistev, the Leafs line two compares to many other line twos. Zaistev is young sure and has only played two full seasons but in his first year he logged 36 points and last season in 60 games he tallied 13 points. Zaitsev has some concerns but all they need from him is a solid 17 plus minutes a game to shut down opposing players. Gardiner does a great job on the second power play unit and coming off his best year ad 52 point season will just like Reilly show no signs of slowing down. Connor Carrick and Travis Dermott are young and anxious they want to make a name for themselves and I think these two logging 13-14 minutes a game on the third line is nothing they can’t handle. We saw bright spots in both of them last year and the Leafs back end gets extremely undervalued. One reason they can surely supplement a lacking third line d-pairing is because of goaltender Frederick Anderson. Last season Anderson 66 games winning 38 of them with a 2.8 GAA and .918 save percentage. This is Andersons second year logging 66 starts he is more than capable of getting the job done the only concern is his playoff performance as he has shown to dwell in the postseason. If Anderson can take that next step and fix his postseason play the Leafs have what it takes.

Predictions?

I think with Tampa and Boston still a little better and more rounded then the Leafs they won’t edge them out. I could see a 2nd place finish out of Toronto for sure but won’t be surprised to see a 3rd place 102-105 point season again. They will be back in the playoffs and I think this is the year they win their first playoff series in 15 years.