We’re back with the second edition of the Maple Leafs post season position, and after jumping in and out of the playoffs, the Leafs are pretty much where we left them last week. Let’s get right into it.
Record from January 4th to January 11th
Games vs Eastern Conference teams: 2
Points gained vs EC teams: 2
Points given up to EC teams: 2
Points out of playoffs: 2 - Division spot, 4 - Wild Card
The Maple Leafs defeated the New Jersey Devils 4-2 and the next night lost to the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. They beat a team they should have beaten and lost to a game no one’s really surprised they lost. So not an amazing week, especially with the past four days off due to the bye week.
The Leafs sit again two points out of the playoffs, fourth in the Atlantic Division, 44 points to Ottawa’s 46, although now there are no games in hand, but there is a big game between those two on Saturday at the Air Canada Centre.
The Senators also play Pittsburgh tomorrow night and then head to St. Louis on Tuesday. If they lose three in a row the Leafs could jump them in the standings with a lead, ready to fight the Boston Bruins for second in the division. But I’m getting ahead of myself again.
The Maple Leafs are four points behind the Flyers for the final wild card spot, and the Maple Leafs have four games in hand on the Flyers. the other is held by the Rangers, who are 13 points ahead of the Leafs, so barring a miracle that one is out of reach.
Coming up over the next week the Leafs play the New York Rangers on Friday, Senators on Saturday, and host divisional rivals the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday.
The Senators game is the biggest one coming up, I would hope that we see McElhinney make his Maple Leafs debut against the Rangers, so Andersen is fresh for the Senators. The game vs the Sabres is a should win.
If the Leafs can come away with 4 out of 6 points over the next week, I’d call that a success in the march towards the playoffs.
Here are the NHL Draft lottery standings as of today:
The Maple Leafs are currently sitting at the 17th overall draft pick, feel free to point out my bad counting, so below are some of the players hovering around that pick. I’m using a consolidated draft ranking, so taking all projects and smashing them together. Some may be repeats from last week, but hey, the Leafs are in the same spot.
Timrå IK (Allsvenskan)
Timrå IK - 27GP, 12G, 15A, 27Pts
Sweden - 12GP. 3G, 6A, 9Pts
From The Hockey News:
It's hard to picture Pettersson not coming through, since back home he's the leading scorer on his team. Timra plays in Sweden's second-best circuit, the Allsvenskan, and has relied on Pettersson's point-per-game pace to stay competitive.
St. Cloud State (NCAA)
St. Cloud State - 19GP, 4G, 3A, 7Pts
HPK - 9GP, 1G, 0A, 1Pt
Frölunda HC (SHL) - 16GP, 1G, 4A, 5Pts
Finland - 6GP, 1G, 1A, 2Pts
Excellent combination of skill, size, and shot. Reads and reacts to situations in the attack zone and is strong on the puck. His quickness allows him to separate the opposition from the puck. Strong quick release. Can play either side and displays power and speed. Looks like a top five selection at this juncture. Already being touted as "Jesse Puljujärvi lite," there are a lot of similarities, but Vesalainen still has a ways to go.
Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Tri-City Americans - 35GP, 12G, 26A, 38Pts
Finland - 6GP, 2A, 0A, 2Pts
From Editor in Leaf:
Statistically, Valimaki is having good success this year and is still generating chatter about moving the puck more. That’s a good problem to have with a player who is confident in his own defensive abilities and has the tools to generate offense. Getting him to use those offensive tools is an area where a coach like Mike Babcock can swoop in and take over.
Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Mississauga Steelheads - 38GP, 14G, 17A, 31Pts
Hague is a pure defenceman whose strength is in his own end. He’s been known to punish guys in front of the net, and his first pass out of the zone is key to getting the Steelheads breakout going. “He’s not the guy like an Erik Karlsson or a P.K. Subban, one of those guys who fly up the ice and everybody goes ‘wow,’" says Steelheads coach, James Richmond. “He’s not gonna wow you as a fan of the game. But as a coach, he’s really gonna wow you. Because he does things the right way.”
HIFK - 25GP, 4G, 7A, 11Pts
Finland - 6GP, 1G, 0A, 1Pt
Of Heiskanen, IFK Helsinki say, "Miro is a good kid, a very good athlete and he’s progressing at pace that is amazing. We don’t know what he’s limitations are, if there are any. For now he seems to be heading for a first round pick in the NHL Draft next summer. He has played all season beside Joe Finley. Big Joe has been something like a father figure or an older brother to Miro. So far no one has even tried to hit Miro too hard." With Finley coming in at 203 cm and 116 kg, it's hardly surprising!
Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Victoriaville Tigres - 41GP, 13G, 17A, 30Pts
"He's a pretty complete guy," NHL Central Scouting's Troy Dumville said. "He's a big, strong guy and can play a lot of different roles on the team. He plays penalty kill, is good defensively and goes to the net hard. He'll be a guy I can easily see being in the top 10 [in the 2017 draft]."
What will the next week bring us? Will the Senators go on a losing streak? Will the Flyers fall? Can the Leafs jump into a playoff spot and not fall out the next day?
Leave your thoughts in the comments.