So since this quarantine has started, I've had to work more hours at my current job, therefore the lack of written output. I will try to write about some more hockey questions and interesting stats like I did in 'the Richard and Hart race' while hockey is cancelled.
These are my 'end of season rankings' for the Toronto Maple Leafs, but since the season is not over yet, and might resume, this list is subject to change. As always, these are my personal opinions, and not facts, everybody has their own opinion and I am always happy to engage in discussion about these lists. The format is the same as my mid season rankings, so if you wanna find out more, go check out those (My mid-season Leafs rankings). Let's (once again) start with the:
Top 5 Forwards
Here's a little catchup on my rankings from the midseason mark: We had: Auston Matthews, John Tavares, William Nylander and Mitch Marner ranked as the Top 4 in the given order and then a 5a and 5b, since at that point there were, in my opinion, two players that fit the bill. With hindsight on our side, let's revisit that list.
1 Auston Matthews Grade: A+
Since the end of December, Auston Matthews had really started dominating the game on both ends, and took an especially big step defensively. He went into the corners harder than ever before, andvanced the puck to his teammates more consistently and just became a more complete player in the two-ish months that followed december. As you can see from these stats (naturalstattrick.com/Auston Matthews), his overall on ice impact has improved from what he put up through december and last season, and it did not decrease his offensive game one bit. The only minor concer might be his faceoffs, but since he's gonna be learning from John Tavares, I am pretty sure he will be fine in that regard. All in all, its an easy A, and Leafs Nation can be very happy with their Nr. 1 overall pick in 2016.
2 John Tavares Grade: B-
Oh Captain, my Captain. I really dont know why, but somehow Tavares had some critique thrown his way after the season was put on hold, but he really just played a solid year, maybe a little down compared to his best years, but still as offensilvely creative as ever, and he still had a comparable on ice impact to some of his seasons in New York (naturalstattrick.com/John Tavares), it just seems like last years 90+ points and 45+ goals season is not where you realistically put your expectations with Tavares, even if he is reunited with Mitch Marner at some point in the future. He is creeping close to 30 after all, but will be a good 2nd line center for years to come. And when you also factor in his awfully slow start under Babcock and that the season had to be cancelled early, you start to see where some of the weirder statistical discrepancys come from.
3 William Nylander Grade: B+
Apart from the fact that he has always been loved by Leafs Twitter (depending on who you ask, of course), William Nylander always has always had good underlying numbers (naturalstattrick.com/William Nylander). He's been a wizard at zone entries again this year (as expected), but he also started to becoma a net front presence and started to go to the corners more and more as the season went on, and was surprisingly effective at it. It was a redemption campaign for Nylander, he silenced most of his haters with being up there with Tavares and Marner in scoring, and all in all, I can't really go lower than B+, even tough his game in his own zone will never be as good as the other parts of his game, which is okay if you are being payed 7.5 million dollars in my mind.
4 Mitch Marner Grade: B
Mitch went on a heater after December. As we expected from his games over christmas, after a slow start with his new contract signed (I see a theme here), he turned his seasons around, and he would've likely turned his stats around fully too, if the season went on normally. Even so, in context, his numbers don't look bad (naturalstattrick.com/ Mitchell Marner), they are actually surprisingly close to Nylanders'. Therefor, I have to retcon my grade from the mid season rankings, and up it to a B. It is not an A, since I expect him to be even better playing with Auton Matthews, because I think those two can really put up superstar numbers together, but I am relieved to see that my hopes and dreams are not just made up out of thin air, seeing them play after the mid season point.
5 Zach Hyman Garde: A+
Ya I don't really know what to say either. Forget about the 5a and 5b thing, Zach Hyman was clearly the 5th best forward on this team. In fairness, his stats (naturalstattrick.com/Zach Hyman) were probably helped by the fact that he was playing on the first line, but Hyman just brings all the little thigs those top 2 guys need, and he has found a scoring touch this season too, as he was on pace for 30+ goals when the rest of the season was postponed. He does not only pass the eye test, he smashes it, and thats why I have decided to put him on here at number 5.
My honorable metions go to Kasperi Kapanen, who has had a very Kasperi Kapanen-like season, and also Alexander Kerfoot, who jumped in the top 6 after Ilya Mikheyev went down to injury, and filled his role pretty well.
Top 3 Defensemen
The ranking here will not change, and neither will the grades. It still stands as:
I do have to mention a few things tho. First up, Justin Holl kinda wasn't as good after he signed his new, shiny contract, but I still believe that he had an exeptional season for his standards, and is the better all around defenseman than Tyson Barrie, and therefor gets the number 2 spot. Morgan Rielly is not featured because a) he had a down year and b) he was injured a lot and therefor did not really feature on PP1, which contributed to him having a down year. The honorable mentions go out to Rasmus Sandin for a solid, even if short, stint in the major leagues, and travis dermott for having a sneakily good month of febuary. Sadly, a pretty dire situation on the back end if we are honest with oursleves tho.
So there ya go. My Leafs season rankings - so far. Waht do y'all think?