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FTB: Why the Leafs are Canada’s best NHL team

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NHL: FEB 29 Canucks at Maple Leafs
TORONTO, ON - FEBRUARY 29: Toronto Maple Leafs Center Auston Matthews (34) celebrates his first period goal with Right Wing Mitchell Marner (16) during the regular season NHL game between the Vancouver Canucks and Toronto Maple Leafs on February 29, 2020 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, ON.
Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

On Monday’s Insider Trading, Mike Johnson and Craig Button ranked the seven Canadian NHL teams. Both had the Ottawa Senators last [insert laugh track], but that is where their lists diverged. Button had the Leafs in fourth place, behind the Canadiens, Flames, and Jets, three teams that were behind the Leafs in the standings last year. Johnson put the Leafs at the top of his list, which surprised me for it’s bold truthfulness.

Mike Johnson’s list

Toronto Maple Leafs, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks, Montreal Canadiens, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, Ottawa Senators

Craig Button’s list

Montreal Canadiens, Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators

Why the Leafs are the best

To be frank, they have the best forward roster in the country, a statement that was only debated with “Nick Suzuki and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are on the way up!” The Oilers are the only team that’s close and they are a power play-reliant team that score in an unreliable way. Any fluctuation in shooting percentages (like low-percentage shots from signee Tyson Barrie) and they’ll be a tire fire. The Flames are unremarkable. The Jets can’t keep hold of the puck or get it out of the zone. The Canucks think Jake Virtanen is a top-six forward. And the Habs are relying on Josh Anderson to score for them.

It’s a low bar, but this is the best Leafs defense this century. They’ve fixed their first pair by adding TJ Brodie to Morgan Rielly, have a successful second pair with Jake Muzzin and Justin Holl, and rounded it off with an offensive powerhouse with Travis Dermott and Mikko Lehtonen. Don’t think I haven’t forgotten when Habs fans thought they were getting the KHL Swede to be their first pair defenseman. The Oilers brought in Barrie, furthering their desire to fuck defense. The Flames added Chris Tanev four years too late. The Canucks peddled and got Nate Schmidt, increasing their number of NHL defensemen to two. And the Jets have a first pair of Josh Morrissey and Dylan DeMelo, followed by an AHL team.

And in net, I’m sorry to Craig Button personally, but Carey Price isn’t good anymore. Frederik Anderson is the second best goalie in Canada behind Connor Hellebuyck (I’m not Editor in Leaf crazy).

Why the Habs aren’t the best

Because Button’s argument for them is that they beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in the play-in and lost with dignity against the Philadelphia Flyers. Another apology to Button, the Penguins were not a good team last year. Maybe they’ll be better this year with the additions of Kasperi Kapanen and Cody Ceci... why are you laughing?

The Habs are a possession monster of a team, they have a philosophy of the game, but they just don’t have the talent to compete. Their goalie is washed up and they had to acquire an expensive tandem guy in the inevitable case that he falls apart or completely implodes. No matter how much they try to turn a quarter into 26 cents, like the Domi for Anderson trade, they don’t have the top-end talent at all three positions to compete. Romanov isn’t Sergachev. Drouin isn’t Marner. Poehling isn’t Matthews. Get better players, be better than 24th in the league, then talk about competing.


Leafs Branches

The Leafs have loaned Semyon Der-Arguchintsev to Torpedo of the KHL (and knocking out fellow Leafs prospect Semyon Kizimov from their roster in the process).

The Leafs are sending several players to the Karjala Cup in Sweden from Nov 5-7. The Russians are doing silly things to get themselves kicked out of the tournament, which you’ll want to read about more here. Team Finland was announced yesterday.
Team Finland: Mikko Kokkonen, Topi Niemela, Roni Hirvonen
Team Russia: Rodion Amirov, Artur Akhtyamov
Team Sweden: Pontus “I score now” Holmberg

New Favourite Son Rodion Amirov’s team Salavat Yulaev Ufa lost 5-0 in their last game, but it looks like Amirov showed well.

Palate Cleanser!

In Stuff We Didn’t Write, this was a really good breakdown of the Leafs 2020 Draft from Kevin at MLHS.

It looks like the NCAA wants to start their season in mid-November. I’m sure it’ll go well in every way.

Congratulations to Trevor Daley for joining the Penguins as their new Hockey Operations Advisor. I assume he’ll show up to every meeting with a handful of “you can’t do that” cards and be totally worth the money. Once again, hire people of colour, they won’t let you down!

RIP Joey Moss.