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The Rebuild, Where are we?

trujaysfan

Well-known member
Mark Masters ‏@markhmasters 14h14 hours ago New Jersey, USA

Babcock on summer: "As a mgt team we’ll get to work & ... make sure we have a team that isn’t missing the playoffs"




Babcock before the season said we would be in for pain and he was correct, although this season was less painful than most in recent memory.

Now Babcock is saying that they are ready to do everything they can to make the playoffs next season. So where are we along this rebuild?

Usually you have to tear down, bottom out and the build but the difference we have is we were bottoming out while we were trying to be good.

Not many teams head into a rebuild with players like: JVR, Kadri, Reilly, Gardiner and Nylander already being in the organization.

Tear down: We only have 1 bad contract left beyond this upcoming season, so this appears to be complete or almost complete. Might be nice to trade Bozak but he is a useful player and not included in contract we need to get rid of IMO.

Bottom out: Finished last and will add another elite or very high end prospect to our already top 3 system along with what appears to be a massive number of other picks over the next 2 drafts. We will have as many as 5 recent top 10 selections in our lineup to begin the year.

So have we done what is needed to complete these two stages already and are ready to begin the "build" phase of this, do we need another year like this one to really set a foundation for the future?
 

IrishWolfman

New member
Well, I'd say our worst remaining contract is Lupul. Unless you think he's going to be bought out.

I don't think the Bozak contract is that bad. It's bad, perhaps, if we actually sign Stamkos this summer because Bozak is paid too much to be a fourth line centre.

Rielly, Gardiner, Kadri, Nylander and JVR make up a pretty solid core for the team next year. Surrounding them with vets like Michalek and Komarov will no doubt help.

One of the things I was shocked to see was how much 4-6 defensive depth we have in this organization. Marincin, Corrado and Valiev looked like they could play at this level. Percy and Loov are close. Neilson and Dermott join the Marlies next season. Zaitsev is a wild card. I wouldn't add a defenseman in free agency this year. We've got assets that we need to assess over a longer period of time and a backlog that we might be able to include in trades to address and organizational weakness (*cough* goaltending *cough*).

Mitch Marner is going to be the big offseason question. Is he ready to take the physical stuff at the pro level? His speed and skill are already there. It's strictly an endurance question now.

It's the offseason forward additions that will determine what we do next year. All three of Matthews, Laine and Puljujarvi are ready to be pros next year. Anyone of them could step into this lineup. Although, the Finns might do the first 20 games in the AHL. Stamkos showing up would, obviously, be huge. He'd add instant depth at centre and leave goaltending as our only really glaring hole.
 

Artnes

Well-known member
By the sounds of it Lupul could join Robidas in the end zone of Giants stadium

Usually we had an idea of what the plan was for the offseason when it's comes to potential deals and signings but with this group we have no idea what's around the corner



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LeafGm

Well-known member
I wouldn't read too much into Babcock's "make sure we have a team that won't miss the playoffs" comment. I don't think that signifies any major change in direction, it's just the next logical step in the rebuild. The "tear-down" is largely complete. The only vestigial remnant of the previous Leaf core is Joffrey Lupul, and it looks like the Leaf management may be gearing up to do with him what they did with Robidas this year:

Chris Johnston ‏@reporterchris 24m24 minutes ago
Lou Lamoriello calls the long term health status of Joffrey Lupul "an unknown." Acknowledges that Stephane Robidas' career "may be over."

Jonas Siegel ‏@jonassiegel 24m24 minutes ago
Lou Lamoriello says Stephane Robidas's career could be over. Says he doesn't know whether Robidas or Joffrey Lupul will play next season.

You kind of wonder if and why Lupul would go along with it, but since he has a limited NTC and no NMC, they may have told Lupul in no uncertain terms that his options for the next two years are:

1) Sit in the pressbox in the AHL or ECHL.
2) Him and his agent find another NHL team that's willing to take him.
3) They loan him to a European team.
4) He goes back home to Orange County with a "long-term injury", and collects his paycheque while laying on the beach.

So, that leaves us likely with these sure bets to return next season:

Nazem Kadri
James van Riemsdyk
Leo Komarov
Morgan Rielly
Jake Gardiner
Martin Marincin

And then these are the veterans on expiring contracts who could be back, but I wouldn't be surprised to see at least a couple go:

Brooks Laich
Milan Michalek
Colin Greening
Matt Hunwick

These are the guys that'll likely be competing for roster spots in training camp:

William Nylander
Mitch Marner
Zach Hyman
Nikita Soshnikov
Byron Froese
Andreas Johnson
Connor Brown
Brendan Leipsic
Josh Leivo (?)

Frank Corrado
Connor Carrick
Nikita Zaitsev
Rinat Valiev
Viktor Loov
Scott Harrington
Stuart Percy (?)

So looking at that list, one thing definitely seems clear to me---we're finished with signing a pile of decent, cheap veterans on one year deals so that we can sell them off at the deadline. We've got too many vets under contract, and too many kids who showed down the stretch that they're ready to compete for a full-time NHL roster spot---including, as IW mentioned, a bunch of kids who look more than ready to fill one of the 4-6 spots on our defense.

I could potentially see us bringing back PA Parenteau on a Daniel Winnik-esque deal. He was a good fit here. But Michael Grabner, Brad Boyes, Peter Holland & Joffrey Lupul have all played their last game as Maple Leafs, IMO.

We could also be adding one of, or if the hockey gods smile upon us, two of Steven Stamkos and Auston Matthews. If we don't get either of them, I think we'll see Tyler Bozak come back. But if we do get even one of them, then I think he'll get dealt at the draft, unless Babcock wants to stick with the idea he floated about giving Nylander a bunch of time on the wing to start his NHL career. Then you probably want to keep him around, and he'd be perfectly fine centering a third line that's going to have at least some offensive talent on it with him.

Either way, next year the team is going to be almost entirely made up of players that the team hopes, at least, have long futures ahead of them with the Maple Leaf organization. So, of course the goal is going to be as good as possible, and to try and get to the playoffs.
 
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LeafOfFaith

Well-known member
If Babs intended to have Willie play wing, he wouldn't have played him at center for the entire stint.

I think Willie stays at center and Marner goes to the wing.
 

LeafGm

Well-known member
If Marner makes the team next year, there's no doubt he'd be playing on the wing. He barely even played at center in junior next year.

I don't know if you can read too much into Babcock's usage of Nylander this year though. Babcock himself pointed out that he was playing Nylander at center because he didn't really have any other option---especially with Bozak & Froese out for large portions of Nylander's call-up, and Kadri missing some time too.
 

MindzEye

Wayward Ditch Pig
Now Babcock is saying that they are ready to do everything they can to make the playoffs next season. So where are we along this rebuild?

I think it's a bit of a mistake to think of a rebuild in those separate, concrete terms. I mean, can we not tear down aspects of the roster while we build it in others? I think that's a lot of what has happened this season and will accelerate next season with the contracts like Michalek, Laich, Greening, etc coming off of the books next year. While we're doing that though, it's likely that Lou will be looking to solve our long term goaltending concerns, take a run at Stamkos, possibly inject 2 more high draft picks (Marner & whoever we pull this draft) into next year's lineup, and lock down 2 young core members (Rielly & Kadri) with long term deals.

So yeah, the two concepts aren't necessarily mutually exclusive and shouldn't be treated as linearly divided aspects of a rebuild. Simplified, it's easier to look at it as adding talent and removing inefficiently utilized cap space and roster positions. You don't have to focus on one aspect of that at the expense of the other. Breaking the rebuild down into pieces and judging yourself on where you are within that structure is a mistake imo.
 

MindzEye

Wayward Ditch Pig
If Babs intended to have Willie play wing, he wouldn't have played him at center for the entire stint.

I think Willie stays at center and Marner goes to the wing.
Nylander played C, in large part because of personnel. We didn't have 3 C's better than him, so he played C. Next year though, that could be a different story. There's nothing wrong with developing a 19 yr old C on the wing and they moving him back to his natural position in a few years, if we have the personnel (Stamkos, Kadri, Matthews for the sake of discussion) that justifies it.
 

Artnes

Well-known member
We have to make sure we have 225 goals on paper prior to the start of the season is an interesting quote from Babcock

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MindzEye

Wayward Ditch Pig
We have to make sure we have 225 goals on paper prior to the start of the season is an interesting quote from Babcock

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Yeah, that is interesting.

JVR (25) - Stamkos (40) - Nylander (20)
Leo (15) - Kadri (20) - Marner (15)
Soshnikov (12) - Bozak (15) - Hyman (12)
Greening (10) - Laich (8) - Michalek (8)

Rielly (10) - Marincin (2)
Gardiner (8) - Carrick (8)
Hunwick (2) - Corrado (2)

That's 220, and for any player or slot I might be a little high on (Marner, Sosh, Hyman, Carrick), I could easily be a bit low on JVR, Kadri, Stamkos, Rielly, Nylander.
 

Volcanologist

Well-known member
We have to make sure we have 225 goals on paper prior to the start of the season is an interesting quote from Babcock
assuming health, a full season from Willy and JVR alone should get us there. We badly missed JVR's touch around the net in a lot of 1-goal losses, and Willy should score 20 goals next season with the type of shot he has, even if he hits a sophomore wall at some point.
 

leafman101

Well-known member
They have made some great progress this year. On all fronts really. Most importantly Babcock laid the foundation of what is required from players to be Toronto Maple Leafs. And we saw his motivational ability, because everyone bought in. This team worked their asses off all year. They did a great job to clear up the cap situation moving forward. Pridham showed his CBA wizardry with the 49 different Leafs, or whatever the number was, getting in the lineup this year. They acquired a bunch of picks. There was big progress in the games of key players in Rielly, Kadri and Gardiner, with Rielly and Kadri taking on big, difficult roles. Our two best prospects performed like two of the best prospects in hockey. There is so much to like about where they are now. If they keep having seasons like they had this year, they'll just keep getting better.

This year they put themselves on the right track. Can they make the playoffs next year? Who knows, may as well try.
 

MindzEye

Wayward Ditch Pig
They have made some great progress this year. On all fronts really. Most importantly Babcock laid the foundation of what is required from players to be Toronto Maple Leafs. And we saw his motivational ability, because everyone bought in. This team worked their asses off all year. They did a great job to clear up the cap situation moving forward. Pridham showed his CBA wizardry with the 49 different Leafs, or whatever the number was, getting in the lineup this year. They acquired a bunch of picks. There was big progress in the games of key players in Rielly, Kadri and Gardiner, with Rielly and Kadri taking on big, difficult roles. Our two best prospects performed like two of the best prospects in hockey. There is so much to like about where they are now. If they keep having seasons like they had this year, they'll just keep getting better.

This year they put themselves on the right track. Can they make the playoffs next year? Who knows, may as well try.
Yeah, as long as we're doing it organically, by adding quality long term pieces to the organization and utilizing kids over scrap heap veterans in key roles, **** it, let's take a run at being a playoff team.
 

BG

Well-known member
Yep, the rebuild becomes based entirely on the quality of our team going forward.. if they can't keep a positive goal differential next season due to either a lack of scoring or poor goaltending (or both), then Hunter keeps getting hits at the draft board.

If Lou really wants another high-end draft, the easiest way to artificially deflate point totals is to run with questionable goaltending.
 

Hoss

Well-known member
I think the idea of "there still may be some pain" is the idea that we are going to go with the kids and not sign those trade/ufa pieces. we are going with the young guys and the pain we may feel will be from watching the young guns make their natural mistakes.

I also thought Babs presser today was a direct shot at the crappy rebuilds of the Oil and even Buffalo. I loved it.
 
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