rink side with RYAN GRAY-WHEELER


​Maple Leafs Fans, Meet Jeremy Bracco

Ryan Gray-Wheeler

​October 12th 2016


Mitch Marner 2.0? 

Let me Introduce to you Maple Leafs 2nd round 61st selection in 2015 Jeremy Bracco. 

Lost in all the Matthews, Nylander, and Marner hype Bracco has very quickly become on of the Maple Leafs top prospects.

Jeremy made his OHL debut with the Kitchener Rangers last year about a quater into the season where he skated in 49 games posting 64 points, 21 goals and 43 assist and than went on to add 14 points in 9 playoff games, 3 goals and 11 assist as the Rangers (understandably) were swept by the London Knights. 

Now not to say Bracco is by any means as good as Marner, I've included a chart stating how impressive Jeremy Bracco truly is, as the last pick in the 2nd round compares to 3 first round selections. (ES stands for even strength)

Let’s also take into account the London Knights roster and the Kitchener Rangers roster, ignoring their team records and simply thinking linemates Marner has the edge with Dvorak (2nd round pick), Tkachuk (6th overall in 2016) Which means more credit should be handed to Bracco than is given. A 64 point total in 49 games is easily overlooked in Major Junior, but when it’s broken down into situations the totals are very comparable.

Bracco appeared in 2 of the 3 Rookie tournament games in London last month where he posted 2 goals and 2 assist, including a 2 goal performance against the Montreal Canadians where he scored the OT winner.

As tweeted by Jeremy Bracco he will be returning to the OHL this week where you can expect him to be amongst the leagues top scorers. "Excited to head back to OHL Rangers #UnfinishedBussiness" 

Mark Hunter has truly stocked the cupboards and trust me Leafs Fans, this is a kid you want to keep your eyes on.

Ryan GW


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It's always something!

Kyle Mac Gillivary

Nov. 1st 2016

Brian Burke: “What do you want to do?”
Bryan Murray: “I’ll flip you…”
Burke: “Kadri is who we’re going to take. Is that the kid you want?”
Murray: “Yeah.”
Burke: “Well, we’re going to take him. So…”
And the Nazem Kadri story begins.


Check out this epic conversation by clicking the BURKIE BUTTON





Anyone who knows me knows I'm a huge fan of Nazem "The Dream" Kadri.

It all started for me when I was a teenager. Being from a little town on Cape Breton Island, it was baseball all summer and hockey all winter. I quickly fell in love with both but always favored hockey. I never had the opportunity to see any live games as there was only one team on the island. The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL) who were about 20 minutes away and I came from a family with very little money, certainly not much extra cash to go watch hockey games.

Eventually we moved to Brantford Ontario, the home of the greatest hockey player to lace them up: Wayne Gretzky! I was extremely excited to live in a place that produced The Great One not to mention I was now in the hockey mecca. The REAL center of the universe. Thirty minutes to Kitchener, an hour to London and an hour to Toronto.

I fell in love with the Kitchener Rangers and quickly learned to live and die with them. I enjoyed the good times and I suffered through watching them struggle.

Then along came Kadri, From the moment I saw him in warm ups I knew this kid was special. His dirty dangles, the ability to snipe corners and watching him calmly skate around picking pucks off the blue line and ripping them bar down was unlike nothing I've ever seen in person. When he was traded to the London knights I was pretty beat up but seeing him along John Tavares was amazing. In my personal opinion they made each other look like superstars and clearly the Islanders and the Leafs seen what I seen. As both those players are still in their drafted uniforms. This is where this starts to get interesting. Kadri’s time in Toronto up until the arrival of Babcock has been rocky to say the least. The media, the coaches, the fans, did I mention the media? They all rip this guy apart. IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHING!

Early in the year, when the points weren’t there (he had nine in the Leafs first 26 games) it was his lack of production that brought on the critics.

Midseason, it was the high praise Kadri was getting from Uncle Lou and Babcock that was widely speculated as talking him up to increase his trade value.

Then.

A game in which he was matched against Ryan Getzlaf and scored the overtime winner. What’s the next morning’s headline? It’s about Kadri being a diver!

The criticism is simply because Kadri will never be what people hoped. A savior. Now if you ask me he's been everything if not more then what the Leafs management hoped for. His passion for the game, his skill offensive his ability to lead in big moments.

What do you want from the guy? He's a 7th overall pick, not top 3! As Monolith’s Ryan Gray-Wheeler pointed out in his Nylander for captain article. He's performing just as good if not better then recent 7th overall picks.

Kadri was among league leaders in shots on goal. He generated most of the Leafs scoring chances last year and he was also among league leaders in the number of posts hit. He still led the club in points with 45.

 Now is he a top line center? Well, that's tough to say. He's better than your average second line centers with the exception of Pittsburgh’s Malkin. But he's not quite as good as most number 1 centers. Now keep in mind Kadri has not hit his full potential. I think on a top line of JVR-Kadri-Nylander he'll light the lamp up and set up some beauties. He needs to be surrounded by the right people.

In my opinion you could give Kadri the "C".  He's showed under Babcock that he's the “go to guy” in every situation.  He plays gritty and physical! When's the last time you seen a skilled guy like Kadri hit someone or get in their face?

 His presence off the ice is incredible too. For those of you who don't know, he has a charity golf tournament yearly, where he's been known to give large donations himself. The guys a class act. He is Heart and Passion. Again, it's always something. Heart and Passion put under a microscope by media and fans can be misinterpreted as "an attitude problem”.

For the love of God fans, give him a brake. He's doing just fine. Kadri for an "A" on his jersey at least. Or quite frankly you’re just wrong in my opinion.  IT'S ALWAYS SOMETHING,WHERE WILL IT END!?

The view from the crease

Ryan Gray-Wheeler

Nov. 9th 2016

Antoine Bibeau, 6th round 172nd overall pick in 2013 6'3 207lbs.

Since being drafted Antoine has been the Leafs outcast In the net, constantly seeming to be overshadowed by his counter part Garret Sparks.

For those who follow my writing ,you know I am very opinionated and put passion into my analysis of players and I can promise you that right from the get-go I knew this kid was something special. Constantly being in attendance at Ricoh questioning why Bibeau was backing up Sparks and not vise versa.

Let’s fast forward to the present, Bibeau, now 22, has officially claimed the crease for the Toronto Marlies ,stealing the job from aforementioned Garret Sparks and posting a 5-1 record with a 1.84GAA and a .933SV% with 2 shutouts.

Fun Fact: These 2 shutouts to start the year have moved Antoine into sole possession of the Toronto Marlies Franchise record for shutouts with 12.


Now let's take a look at Bibeau over his career in the AHL because I know as you're reading this you're saying, "well that's only his first 6 games this ,what about the past few seasons?" Well let me break it down for you;

In 78 career AHL games over 3 seasons, Bibeau has gone 48-20-8 with a .918SV% with 12 shutouts, has done nothing but win in the crease for the Marlies for the most part in a back-up role.

At just 22 Bibeau is showing us a glimpse of what he could bring to a youthful Toronto Maple Leafs club in a few years and it truly is something special to see.  Players buying in and doing their part to build a true competitive playoff contending team.

I can't stress enough the importance of patience and understanding from Leafs Fans that this is still a rebuild. Bibeau has been nothing but overlooked his entire Leafs career and givien up on when really he's been our diamond in the rough all along.


Patience Leafs Fans, patience.

Getting to Know Travis Dermott

What you need to know. 
Kyle Mac Gillivary

Oct. 31st 2016
 

Travis Dermott is a skilled offensive defenseman. Dermott had a very successful year last year in the OHL with the Erie Otters posting 43 points (6 goals and 37 assists).


Dermott is often overlooked, all we ever hear in Leafs Land is trade "so and so" for a top d-man,. Well I'm hear to tell you it's not necessary. We're not a team, at this moment , looking to be a cup contender. We're a team in a rebuild,. A team in development and right now we are developing two very promising defense men in Andrew Neilson and Travis Dermott. Dermott and Neilson are not only very promising, but have been playing together this year on the Marlies and have amazing chemistry.


Now back to Dermott. Dermott is a product of Newmarket Ontario, the same place as Connor McDavid. He also played for the Erie Otters at the same time as McDavid. Now I'm not going to start comparing the two but, you'd have to think, same home town same OHL team, training together, he's probably picked up a couple tips and tricks.


Now if you look at his numbers you'll notice ever since he played in Erie his stats are unreal. For example 28 points in his first season, about average.  Second season: 43 points. Clearly one on the best d-men of that draft . Dermont is the real deal guys give the Leafs time. Developing a defenseman takes much longer then a forward and Dermott is well on his way.

Dermott hasn't shown any signs of slowing down in the AHL being a +6 with 5 assists in 8 games. So Leafs Nation don't worry to much about that defenceman we need, were working on, it be patient

 

 

Remember that Phil Kessel Guy?

Ryan Gray-Wheeler

Nov. 10th 2016

In 2015, Maple Leafs President Brendan Shanahan made his first big statement stunning not only fans but every sports station in the world announcing a blockbuster trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the middle of the first day of free agency. The trade would involve Pittsburgh receiving Leafs Star forward and leading scorer for the previous 5 years Phil Kessel. Along with Kessel the Leafs shipped disappointing prospsct Tyler Biggs, defenseman Tim Erixon, and a 2016 3rd round pick.

To Toronto, veteran forward Nick Spaling, prospects Scott Harrington, Kasperi Kapanen, and a 1st and 3rd round picks in 2016. Lost in all the excitement of how incredibly productive our rebuild has been, we have forgot how such a trade has given us our top prospect whom has yet to make the Maple Leafs.

Kasperi Kapanen, most well known for his OT gold medal winning goal for Finland at the world juniors has bought into the system that Shanahan and cast have created. Off to an explosive start to the season for the Toronto Marlies, not only offensively but even improving his 2-way game. The Penguins 2014 1st round pick at 22nd overall is already in his 2nd AHL season at the age of only 20 after playing for the SM-liiga league for the KalPa Kuopia through 2012-2013/2014-2015 seasons. Kasperi leads the Toronto Marlies with 7 goals and sits 2nd in team points with 12 in the first 10 games of the season helping the Marlies to a 7-2-1 start to the season.

Expect Kapanen to remain with the Marlies for the remainder of the season and help lead the Calder Cup contending Marlies to another successful season and be fighting for a spot with the Toronto Maple Leafs next season. As always Leafs Fans remain patient, the playoff contending Toronto Maple Leafs are only a few years away.

What's going to happen with "Sid The Kid"
Kyle Mac Gillivary

Nov. 9th 2016


Sidney Crosby has rejoined the Pittsburgh Penguins after suffering a concussion this off season. Crosby has stated he sustained the concussion during a Penguins practice though there is no footage of the incident. This leads me to belive it may have been sustained during his time at the World Cup of Hockey. Sid has now played his 6th game of the season. In those 6 games Crosby has managed to rack up 10 points 8 goals 2 assists. Crosby, the face of the NHL has consistently shown his ability to play after recovering from a concussion as this is his 3rd. Crosbys stats after suffering a concussion are almost unbelievable but, most things the world's best hockey player dose is unbelievable why should we be surprised now? Crosbys concussion year stats are as follows:


2011/2012- 22 games played 8 G 29 A 37 Pts

2012/2013- 36 games played 15G 41A 56Pts

2016/2017- 6 games played 8G 2A 10Pts...so far

Now my concern is how long can Crosby play?


We've seen so many hockey players and other athletes have to retire early due to concussions. Most notably in hockey Eric Lindros. Also a phenomenal player for his time. Lindros suffered 6 concussions over 11 years he would then take a year off before being cleared by a neurosurgeon in Chicago. He retired 6 years later but was never then same . My worry is can Crosby take another concussion and if so will he end up like Lindros and just not be the same? It would be a shame that the best player in the world have to bow outta the sport he loves due to injury.

Now there's always going to be people that think that Alexander Ovechkin or even Conner McDavid trump Crosby when it comes to who's the best hockey player in the world and I'm here to tell why they're not . Let's start with McDavid.

Yes, Conner is an amazing player and yes he's extremely talented but remember this is only his second NHL season there's just not enough there yet to solidify Connor McDavid as the best in the world not to mention Crosbys rookie year he posted 102Pts now Connor was on pace to be roughly 95pts area. It's unfortunate he was cut short because it would have been amazing to see if he could keep up that pace.

And now let's shine some light on Ovi. Alexander Ovechkin was selected 1st overall just like Crosby and McDavid. The lock out year, his first year in the NHL was with, you guessed it Sid the Kid. Ovi out scored Sid that year posting 106pts.


When you really brake it down Ovi is by far the best scorer in the world, but Sid is without a doubt the best over all player in the world just take a look at their stats.

Alexander Ovechkin:
850 games played 532G 445A 977 Pts 79+/-

Sidney Crosby:
713 games played 346G 602A 948Pts 153+/-

Do the math.  Ovechkin has played 137 more games then Crosby but is only 29 points up on him. Look further you can see Crosby is a team player always looking for the pass rather then the goal even though his aim is amazing and is probably 2nd to none. Just look at his plus/minus. The guy can handle himself at both ends of the rink, a true 200ft player. Where Ovi is dreadful in his own end (but getting better) . So who's the best player in the world right now? Statistically it's Sidney Crosby end of story but let's hear your views and opinions guys. I'm not always right but more often then not, I am ;)