The Out of Town Thread part XLVI All talk from around the league here
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01-17-2013, 05:26 AM
Join Date: Mar 2008
Originally Posted by
Just saw a thread on the main board RE: Habs v Leafs and the overwhelming majority of the first four pages was giving every edge but Goalie to the Leafs.
Prospects, Forwards, Defense edge to the Leafs ?! Am I a crazy homer or are the Leafs significantly worse than us in every category?
Here are both teams line-ups for argument sake:
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Erik Cole
Alex Galchenyuk (?) - Tomas Plekanec - Brian Gionta
Travis Moen - Lars Eller - Rene Bourque
Ryan White - Brandon Prust - Colby Armstrong
Andrei Markov - PK Subban
Tomas Kaberle - Josh Gorges
Alexei Emelin - Raphael Diaz
Joffrey Lupul - Tyler Bozak - Phil Kessel
Clarke MacArthur - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
James Van Riemsdyk - Jay McClement- Leo Komarov
Matt Frattin - Dave Steckel - Mike Brown
Dion Phaneuf - Jake Gardiner
John-Michael Liles - Carl Gunnarsson
Korbinian Holzer - Cody Franson
Let's start with the top 6:
Erik Cole (34 years old, 61 pts) - David Desharnais (26 years old, 60 pts) - Max Pacioretty (24 years old, 65 pts)
Alex Galchenyuk (18 years old, rookie) - Tomas Plekanec (30 years old, 52 pts) - Brian Gionta (33 years old, 15 pts)
Joffrey Lupul (29 years old, 67 pts) - Tyler Bozak (26 years old, 47 pts) - Phil Kessel (25 years old, 82 pts)
Clarke MacArthur (27 years old, 43 pts) - Mikhail Grabovski (28 years old, 51 pts) - Nikolai Kulemin (26 years old, 28 pts)
First off, something you have to take in consideration evaluating the Maple Leafs is that with their new coach (Carlyle) their offensive production as a whole will take a hit. They'll play a lot more defensive brand of hockey to make up for their lack of a solid #1 guy between the pipes. I personally believe that you're gonna see Kessel's and Lupul's productions take a hit similarly to what Cammalleri had to go through a couple of years ago when he went from having 82 pts (1,01PPG) with the Calgary Flames to getting 50 pts (0,77PPG) with the Montreal Canadiens and Jacques Martin's defensive system.
If we compare both first lines, they both have something bad about them. Both left-wingers (Cole & Lupul) are enigmas in terms of them being able to not only reproduce last year's career highs but also staying healthy. Taking the age in consideration I say Lupul is the better player between the two right now. David Desharnais and Phil Kessel are quite similar in how one dimensional they both are, one is an elite playmaker and the other one is an elite sniper but they're both non-physical and let their teammates do the dirty work for them. It's funny because they play a complete different style of play, one is critizised for being too selfish and other is critizised for not being selfish enough with the puck. If one day the Leafs can find a better option than Tyler Bozak on the first line they will have a superior first line than Montreal but until then I call it even.
As for the second line of both teams... There are question marks on both sides. Clarke MacArthur and Nikolai Kulemin are coming off disappointing seasons after a promising 2010-2011 season where they each got 55+ pts. On the other hand, Montreal currently has a rookie as the left-winger on that second line. Predicting how many points an 18 year old rookie is going to get is a pretty hard task considering they could either take the Tyler Seguin route and start off slow or go the Ryan Nugent Hopkins path and produce right away. Another thing you have to take in consideration is that not only is Brian Gionta is coming off an injury but he's also not getting any younger and losing a step could hurt his game a lot. Tomas Plekanec and Mikhail Grabovski are a bit of a wash since they are quite similar although I think Plekanec is the better player defensively, but both players are consistent in their production and produce no matter who their teammates are. I give this one to the Leafs considering the chances of Kulemin and MacArthur bouncing back are bigger than Galchenyuk stepping up right away and Gionta gaining his old form.
Travis Moen (30 years old, 16 pts) - Lars Eller (23 years old, 28 pts) - Rene Bourque (30 years old, 24 pts)
Ryan White (24 years old, 3 pts) - Brandon Prust (28 years old, 17 pts) - Colby Armstrong (30 years old, 3 pts)
James VanRiemsdyk (23 years old, 24 pts) - Jay McClement (29 years old, 17 pts) - Leo Komarov (25 years old, rookie)
Matt Frattin (25 years old, 15 pts) - Dave Steckel (30 years old, 10 pts) - Mike Brown (27 years old, 4 pts)
At first sight I find the bottom 6 for Montreal to not only be better defensively but have more of an identity than the bottom 6 of the Leafs who have been known by their former GM in Brian Burke for their truculence. I find Montreal potentially has one of the best third lines in the NHL with Eller, Moen and Bourque. Moen provides the grit along with reliable defense, Eller brings finesse and playmaking to the line and Bourque who's been the most successful in his career when he was playing on a third line (suppose because of soft minutes) can score the goals. Although I like Jay McClement a lot since he reminds me a lot of a Dominic Moore type of player, does all the little things right and can occasionally chip in offensively. It's just not enough to beat Montreal's third line, they have everything you want on a line while the Leafs have a (although promising) rookie and a young power forward that remains a project. As for the 4th line, again Montreal in my opinion has the better 4th line. Ryan White and Mike Brown are pretty much the same player except for awesome facial hair on Brown's part. They're both heart and soul type of players that go to war on every shift, hit everything and agitate the other team. Plus they can more than hold their own when it comes to fighting! But although they're fan favorites, they have a limited skillset and they are not known for their scoring prowess. Brandon Prust was one the most wanted Free Agent last july because he's everything you want in a player for your bottom 6, he hits, he can fight, he's a top Penalty Killer and he can chip in offensively. Now I'm skeptical on his ability to play center in the NHL but I still think he's a better option to have there than Dave Steckel who's nothing more than a faceoff specialist in my honest opinion. If Colby Armstrong can regain his old form and be healthy again I think this line will be wrecking force and will make a lot of defenseman think twice before going in the corner with them.
Andrei Markov (34 years old, 3 pts) - PK Subban (23 years old, 36 pts)
Dion Phaneuf (27 years old, 44 pts) - Jake Gardiner (22 years old, 30 pts)
The Leafs have the best pairing without a doubt and right now it's by a landslide. Gardiner and Subban are a wash in my opinion, Subban is better defensively right now but he also has a year of development ahead of him. When both players will be in their prime I think they will be equal and pale images of themselves in the way they play. Dion Phaneuf as much as I hate to say it is a good #1 defenseman although he is prone to occasional brain fart (i.e Eller's goal in the last game of the season) he remains a top defenseman who can play in all situations and play physical. If Markov can be 75% of the player he used to be then this thing is a lot closer but for now it remains a question mark.
Tomas Kaberle (34 years old, 31 pts) - Josh Gorges (28 years old, 16 pts)
John-Michael Liles (32 years old, 27 pts) - Carl Gunnarsson (26 years old, 19 pts)
These two pairings are pretty similar, put your best shutdown defenseman with a puck-moving defenseman with average defense. I find Liles and Kaberle almost a wash since they have the same role (and pratically the same production) and the same weaknesses in their own zone. The problem is with Kaberle showing up to camp in a lot better shape than last year makes me question if Montreal has truly seen the best of Kaberle in the Canadiens' uniform, it's tough to evaluate the defensive work of a player when they're paired with Chris Campoli. Gunnarsson is pretty much the poorman version of Gorges, steady defenseman who does a good job at shutting down the opposite team's best players and blocking shots but Gorges is better at what he does. With Therrien sheltering Kaberle from team's top lines and Gorges covering Kaberle's potential gaffes on defense, I think this pairing is better than Toronto's.
Alexei Emelin (26 years old, 7 pts) - Raphael Diaz (27 years old, 16 pts)
Francis Bouillon (37 years old, 11 pts)
Korbinian Holzer (24 years old, rookie) - Cody Franson (25 years old, 21 pts)
Mike Komisarek (30 years old, 5 pts)
I prefer the Canadiens' bottom pairing defense on the sole purpose that although both defense don't have a whole lot of experience in the NHL, Emelin and Diaz have a lot more mileage when it comes to playing hockey at a high level of hockey than Holzer and Franson. I'm not too sold on Franson yet, for a guy who was pretty much included in the Lombardi deal as a gift he hasn't proven he can be a regular defenseman in the NHL yet. He can produce offensively like his 21 pts in 57 games shows but I don't think he's good enough defensively to be more than a bottom pairing defenseman. On the other hand, Diaz has shown that he can play a mistake free defensive game and has shown flashes of what he can do offensively as well. I personally was more impressed by Diaz than Emelin last year, as much as the people like Emelin's physical game, he was not cautious enough defensively and gave the other team a ton of chances because he was off position because he was took himself out of the play to go for the big hit. Holzer from what I've read sounds like a solid defenseman but he'll have to show what he can do at the NHL level before being considered better than guys who've played at the international level and the NHL. As for the 7th defenseman, I think since Therrien has a soft spot for Bouillon, they'll do a rotation between the bottom pair depending on the team they're playing against. Considering the way Komisarek has played in the last two years, I take Bouillon's steady defensive game before the mess that Komisarek is nowadays.
No debate, Montreal has the best goaltending of the two.
Montreal has the better PK without a doubt, they might have lost Gill but didn't seem to affect them in the last stretch of the season when they were still killing penalties at the same rate. Plus the addition of players like Prust and Armstrong might remove some of the workload on Plekanec's shoulders in order to keep him fresh for ES and the PP.
The Leafs were the 28th worst team in the NHL when it came to PK and it's been an issue that they've had for many seasons, they've tried bringing in players like Sjostrom and Komisarek to fix that issue but it's done nothing for them. Will McClement help them in that department? Well it certainly can't hurt them and make them worse than they already are.
As for the PP you can pretty much switch the teams, the Leafs excel at them while Montreal was awful last year. With new coaching and a healthy Markov the issue might be solved but Montreal still lacks that powerful shot at the point and God knows if Subban can be that guy.
I might be bias but I find our prospect pool deeper in players that will play in the NHL but also game breaking talent. Rielly and Gardiner are some good ones I'll give them that but Biggs is nothing but a future Taylor Pyatt and Kadri has never impressed me and I don't see him as more than a poorman of Ribeiro.
Top 6 Toronto > Montreal
Bottom 6 Montreal > Toronto
Top pairing Toronto > Montreal
Second pairing Montreal > Toronto
Bottom pairing Montreal > Toronto
Goaltending Montreal >>> Toronto
Prospects Montreal > Toronto
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