I’ll list quite a few reasons why Thomas is a perfect answer to the Leafs goalie problems.
1) He’d be a great mentor to the young inexperienced Reimer & Scrivens.
2) He’d also be a great veteran presence to the rest of the team which is in dire need of some veteran leadership.
3) Thomas has nerves of steel. Unlike Luongo, Thomas won’t get fazed or un-nerved having cameras in his face 24/7, especially when the Leafs hit a rough patch. You want a guy in net who’s a rock so he can shrug off the distractions, not buckle under the insane pressure in Toronto like Luongo probably will. Thomas could be that rock in net the Leafs badly need, much like Cujo & Belfour were from 100-2004.
4) Thomas has won his cup, so the cliche of ” a veteran player eager to go to a contender to win his first cup may not apply here”. Makes a huge difference cause a 35 veteran who has yet to win a cup would very likely NOT be interested in coming to a team like the Leafs who isn’t close to a cup. Thomas coming to TO, with a cup ring already in his pocket, perhaps he’ll look at it as a different new challenge, helping the Leafs get over their 7 year hump of no playoffs.
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I believe I can speak I can speak for every Leaf fan who frequents this site, as well as the vast majority of Leaf fans everywhere, that the trades of last season improved the hockey team immeasurably. Still, 26 games are really not enough of a test to see just how improved the team will be over the long haul. I think by Christmas of this year, we will have a much better notion of the true impacts of Phaneuf, Giguere and Sjostrom. Will the leadership continue and be washed through all the players? Will the defensive play carry on where it left off in April? Will the penalty killing success rate be included among the league’s best?
However, another aspect of those mid-winter moves was the decline in offensive punch. Good trade or not, it can not be argued that a lot of goals left town that day and the stats prove it. Up to the trade the Leafs were scoring at a clip of 2.71 goals per game. Over the last 26 games that average dropped to 2.38, overall they scored at a clip of 2.56 for the season. If the Leafs are going to climb back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference, they’ll have to find a way to score more goals, strong defence alone will not cut it.
Fortunately, the Leaf brain trust has partially addressed the issue so far this summer by trading for Kris Versteeg and snatching Colby Armstrong off the UFA list. But even if they both go on to have career years, they won’t make up the shortfall. So, where are the goals going to come from?
As I touched upon in a previous post, http://leafs4life.net/2010/04/17/the-january-31st-factor there were several encouraging changes to the play of the Maple Leafs after the big trades of that Sunday. One of the most remarkable was the penalty killing, another was the vastly improved defensive play, translating into a reduction in goals against by almost a full goal. Read on for a further in-depth analysis of two key factors that could lead the Leafs back to post-season play next April.
If the Leafs can match their goals against rate of 2.62 that they achieved over the last 26 games of the season, they would allow 215 goals. Taking a look at the eight teams who made the playoffs in the East, five of them allowed more than that total, only New Jersey, Boston and Buffalo allowed less. If the Leafs can acquire some more scoring and add 0.33 goals per game to their rate of 2.38 GF rate they scored at after the Phaneuf trade, they would score at the same rate they were prior to the trade, 2.71. That would translate into 222 goals bulging the twine over an 82 games schedule. Looking at last years final standings that would have tied them with the Devils and put them ahead of the Bruins and Habs. Looking at the teams that missed the playoff dance in April, a goals for-to-goals against ratio like that will put the Leafs in the playoffs.
“Dog Days” are the hottest, most sultry days of summer. In the northern hemisphere, they usually fall between early July and early September. They are also defined as a time period or event that is very hot or stagnant, or marked by dull lack of progress.
Well it seems that along with the weather, hockey has entered the dog days of summer as well. This summer’s free agent frenzy has slowed to more of a fizzle since the first couple of days of the month with the majority of the players being signed rated as second or third tier and in some cases, roster fillers. Some of this is certainly due to the below average quality of this years crop of players, while other factors are teams being either too close to the Cap, or not having money to spend period and even some pundits suggesting that the market place is being held up by Ilya Kovalchuk’s clear lack of decision-making abilities. Personally I would circle ‘D’, all of the above, on the test paper, especially regarding the Maple Leafs.
The first thing I did when researching this article was to look for a suitable image that would capture the meaning of one of the four words Brian Burke described what his hockey teams played like. Remember, way back on November 29, 2008, the famous pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence speech. Now, the word truculence is not a word you hear very often, so I chose it to be the word I would use for my image search and lo and behold, right there on the first page is a picture of our boy Luke, pounding away on Tyler Kennedy.
With the recent additions of Mike Brown and Colby Armstrong, the Leaf management team has added some additional truculence to the bottom 6 and Kris Versteeg increases the skill level to the top 6, but as the title suggests, there is an element or two lacking in the current construction of that half-dozen.
July 1st, 2010
-Colby Armstrong signs a 3 year/$9mil deal.
– Joey Crabb signs 1 year, two way deal worth 525k, 200k in the AHL.
– Danny Richmond (D) signs 1 year, two way deal worth 550k, 200k in the AHL
– Mike Zigomanis (F) signs 1 year, two way deal worth 500k, 250k in the AHL
Best of the Rest UFA’s based on James Mirtle’s top 100 UFAs: