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
Craig Button’s list
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.
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.
5-0 final.— Kevin Papetti (@KPapetti) October 26, 2020
Definitely one of Amirov's best games of the season though.
He had several nice takeaways, four shots on goal, and led his team in ice time with 17:42. His line played well at 5v5, but the rest of his team did not.
I don't think he'll be scratched for a while!
#OHL Memory Minute ⏱️:@MapleLeafs prospect Nick Robertson (@nickrobertson01) pumped home a hat-trick for @PetesOHLhockey while Chad Yetman (@YetmanChad) and Aidan Campbell teamed up to lift the @ErieOtters in a shootout on Oct. 26, 2019 pic.twitter.com/fiMtkZXeQr— OntarioHockeyLeague (@OHLHockey) October 26, 2020
It looks like the NCAA wants to start their season in mid-November. I’m sure it’ll go well in every way.
NCAA Hockey looks to have a start date. https://t.co/6Sgc29gDx5— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) October 27, 2020
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!
In his new role, Trevor Daley will be based out of Pittsburgh and report directly to GM Jim Rutherford, assisting in player evaluations at the NHL and AHL level, as well as acting as an ‘eye in the sky’ for the coaching staff during games.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) October 26, 2020
RIP Joey Moss.