Oct 032007
 

I am sickened by what seems to be an outrage on behalf of Leaf media and fans (and others) at Maurice for starting Andrew Raycroft. It sickens me because it seems to be a media made goalie controversy that if anyone had a clue would realize that Raycroft was the likely starter.

Ever since the trade was made Maurice and JFJ said that Toskala was brought in to help Raycroft and that Raycroft was still the starter. Now, that may have been some posturing and in the long run they expect/hope Toskala will take over the #1 role, but they made it clear that Toskala would have to earn that. Based on Toskala’s preseason starts, he has not yet earned that. He did nothing to pass Raycroft on the depth chart. Had Maurice played Toskala to start the season it would have been the wrong message to send to Toskala, Raycroft and to the rest of the team. It would have been the wrong message to send to Toskala because it would have said “this is your job, the other guy is crap, and all the pressure is on you.” It would have been the wrong message to Raycroft because it would have basically told him “you suck and we have no use for you and this new guy who has shown absolutely nothing has taken your job for good.” It would have been a bad message to the rest of the team because it would have told them that you don’t necessarily have to prove yourself to get a job, you just have to have a more expensive and longer term contract.” None of those are good messages to send so Maurice was 100% correct in playing Raycroft. I suspect it had always been Maurice’s plan to start Raycroft unless Raycroft was horrible in the pre-season and Toskala was very good.

Now, that said, Raycroft was nothing special last year, was nothing special in the pre-season and was nothing special tonight. So, Toskala will definitely get every opportunity to steal the job away from the incumbant Raycroft, but he will not be handed that role if he doesn’t perform. And that is a good thing and that is how it should be.

  19 Responses to “Raycroft vs Toskala”

  1.  

    The real mistake is placing your faith in these 2 unreliable goaltenders. toskala has yet to be a starter in a league and hasnt played more than 30 odd games, which also makes raycroft the easy choice for #1. At least the leafs have 2 decent goaltenders to start up a little goalie competition, makes sure the goalies stay sharp.

    but the mistake isnt in which to start really, theyre more or less the same. the mistake was in acquiring these 2 goalies. the leafs had tuuka rask in their system, all fingers were pointing to him being a future #1, then pogge gets a WJC win on a pretty good team canada and the leafs make a massively lopsided trade to a division rival.

    then when raycroft didnt pan out, the leafs were forced to swing a trade, another lopsided one, for a backup. what i dont like about that trade is that the leafs acquired bell, who is basically eating up cap space. maybe not now, but in the end… i mean he didnt work in chicago, but they were bad, then in san jose with top offensive players he struggled, why would he play well with the leafs? san jose pretty much got a nice amount of picks AND created some much needed cap room.

    so now the leafs find themselves with a top goalie prospect who is not as good as the one they traded away, and is not dominating the AHL, they find themselves WiTHOUT draft picks once again, and they find themselves without and top quality prospects.

    you would figure the leafs would be contenders, because what theyre trading away pretty much means they are hoping to win a cup soon, but look at the team. theyre a bubble team, if they get to the playoffs, will they have enough depth to go all the way? at this point its doubtful. do they still have any assets to trade come the deadline to acquire a player to put them over the top? well i keep saying no but every year they surprise me and keep trading away draft picks, so i wont hold my breath.

    and in a response to one of your newer articles. winning the cup is infinitely easier if u draft well. then u have your top paid players, and rounding out the cheap salaries are the young quality guys who are jsut about entering their prime but are better than the league minimum rory fitzpatricks.

  2.  

    Both the trades for Raycroft and Toskala were a bit risky but I don’t think you can win unless you take a risk so I didn’t have a problem with the trades.

    In Raycroft’s case the Leafs had two prime, but not yet ready, goaltending prospects in Rask and Pogge. They needed a goalie so they traded one for a former NHL rookie of the year winner, former CHL and OHL goaltender of the year and OHL most outstanding player who was coming off a bad year that could partially be blamed on injury issues. It was a risk but a reasonable one to take.

    In the case of Toskala, most people overrate draft picks, particularly those in weak draft years like this past one. I don’t really care about giving up the draft picks for a potential starting goalie. Toskala has a better chance of being a starting goalie for the Leafs than that draft pick had of making the NHL. My problem was giving Toskala a hefty contract extension at NHL starters salary without actually finding out if he could play as a starter.

    As for Bell, I am cautiously optimistic. He is a decent two way player and two years ago he had 25 goals and 48 points for a weak Blackhawk team. He has good size, is feisty and plays the game hard. He is only 27 and has had a lot of problems off the ice but if he has matured and cleaned up his personal life (which all signs point to him having done so) then maybe he can regain some consistency and dedication to his hockey career and that could be good news for the Leafs. The upside is he turns into a 25 goal, 50 point Chad Kilger which I know I wouldn’t complain about.

    and in a response to one of your newer articles. winning the cup is infinitely easier if u draft well.

    I never said it wasn’t. What I said is that drafting and developing are less important now than in the past and that pro scouting is probably more important than drafting and developing.

  3.  

    “What I said is that drafting and developing are less important now than in the past and that pro scouting is probably more important than drafting and developing.”

    Wow, I see this as a total fallacy.

    In a cap world, filling roster spots with players on entry-level contracts is critical if you want to have the money to keep a stable of existing stars.

    Anaheim is an excellent example.

    How did they field two #1 lines, as well as 2 HoF defencemen?

    Because guys like Penner, Getzlaf and Perry were on entry-level contracts.

    Drafting is more important than ever because a certain proportion of your team will always have to be comprised of talented entry-level guys if you want to make the most of the financial advantage they offer.

  4.  

    Penner was not drafted. He signed as an undrafted free agent and was 24 years old last spring so is not your typical draft pick.

    Having Perry and Getzlaf were important to last years run but their status of players on entry level contracts lasts only three years and if they are very good they will get good money next summer.

    A players status of being cheap, highly productive players on entry level contracts generally will only last 1-3 years. That doesn’t provide a lot of value for a draft pick. The majority of draft picks won’t provide a lot of value during the first few years of their NHL career. Second or third line status at best.

    What becomes more important is how well you identify top end players to build around and whether you complement those guys with cheaper veterens or cheaper youngsters is less important.

    How did they field two #1 lines, as well as 2 HoF defencemen?

    One could argue that they didn’t field any #1 lines. Overall they only had two forwards with more than 60 points and only one player with 30+ goals. That is not the making of a team with two first lines. More realistically they had one star talent up front (Selanne) and 6-8 more second line players. They won because of defense and goaltending and depth up front, not top end talent up front, and they played the game hard, physical and intelligently.

  5.  

    Anaheim is a total fluke – they barely belong in this discussion, it’s not hard to build a team when you’ve got 2 guys who want to play in your city for reasons other than who’s paying the most money. Niedermayer left almost 10 million on the table to sign with Anaheim. The problem is that Carolina was also a fluke, running super hot on the PP as well as having other teams incurring major injuries during their Stanley Cup run. We’ve yet to see a real ‘salary cap’ team win a Stanley Cup.

    However, I think David is making a gross misjudgement when he says that drafting and scouting is not as important. This quote in particular, “What becomes more important is how well you identify top end players to build around and whether you complement those guys with cheaper veterans or cheaper youngsters is less important.”

    The answer to ‘What top end players do you build around’ is: All of them. That is to say – if you’ve got a top end player, sign him to a long-term deal if you can afford it before he reaches free agency. The problem is – you can’t choose what top end players you’ve already got. That’s just a consequence of fortune and drafting. If you’ve got two, the question becomes more difficult – I think Heatley is the right guy to sign for the Ottawa Senators. I’ve always questioned Jason Spezza’s desire and he plays with too much finesse at times. But if you’ve got one, lock him up now – because he could get away and you are left with nothing but guys who you have to overpay to get to play in your city.

    Teams who don’t have defense or goaltending can’t go out and sign star defense or goaltending – that is far too expensive. The only bargains on the free agent market come in the mid to lower range, and they are marginal bargains, and often they become liabilities at the end of the contract. So where are they going to get these things? From the draft, of course – or by signing undrafted free agents.

    I just can’t believe you discount the draft. Having a Getzlaf or Staal on your roster is an ENORMOUS advantage – a player who provides $6 million dollars of worth for a fraction of that price can’t be found ANYWHERE but through the entry draft. The teams that draft well will win – almost regardless of what errors they make in free agency. Ottawa had Martin Gerber wasting 3.6 million of their cap space – but when they had an Andrei Meszaros playing top 4 defense for an entry level contract instead of the $3 million+ they’d have to pay for an equal player on the FA market, it’s a lot easier to carry that burden.

  6.  

    oh although it is worth noting that anaheim only got pronger because they had guys like lupul and smid sitting around whom they could deal.

  7.  

    I am not discounting the draft but there were two players players available for trade prior to last year and the two teams that acquired those two players improved dramatically. Those two players were Luongo and Pronger. The good GMs get the job done and get those elite level players and build around them. There are a number of teams that had they landed Pronger or Luongo, at almost any cost, would have propelled them well into the playoffs or into Cup Contender contention.

    I am not convinced that you can win with Spezza and Heatley as your elite level players. Maybe if you added an elite level goalie as well you can compete but only if you do a great job filling in around those three guys which may cost you upwards of $21 million in cap space.

    Yes, having an Eric Staal on your team is important, but the only way you get an Eric Staal on your team is if you suck horribly and get a top one or two draft pick. But you can’t get a #1 or #2 overall pick if you have a good team so that elite level cheap player is only an elite level cheap player for a couple years and then you can’t get any more of them because you no longer get first or second overall picks.

    I guess the point I am trying to make is there are a number of ways to get that elite level talent. In the new cap era and 25-27 year old unrestricted free agency the number of ways of getting top end talent have increased dramatically. The draft is one of them, but it is less important than the pre-cap and pre-25 year old UFA.

  8.  

    Spezza and Heatley took Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Finals last year – what are you not convinced of, exactly? That a team can win it all? It’s tough to compete with what Anaheim had going. I’m skeptical too, but I think your examples are using franchises that already have serious problems. Regardless of whether Tampa signed Lecavalier, St. Louis, or Richards to the contracts they did, alloting that money ANY OTHER WAY and they still have a middling team because they have 0 prospect depth – and therefore no one on their team is a bargain.

    You are right – Eric Staal is difficult to get, but what about Ryan Getzlaf, Andrei Meszaros, Zach Parise, Henrik Lundqvist, etc. etc.? These guys were all key players on teams that made it to the 2nd round.

    I disagree that there are are a number of ways to get that elite level talent. I think the Luongo and Pronger events were both aberrations and that we will see less trades of elite-level players going forward. Remember also that there’s a salary maximum, which limits players like Crosby and Ovechkin from ever hitting free agency.

    Elite-level talent was far easier to acquire when all it took was having more dollars than another team or taking on their inevitable salary dumps. Now it’s not so easy. It can be gotten younger to be sure, but that youth has a price – or didn’t you notice how much Scott Gomez and Daniel Briere signed for this off-season?

  9.  

    Spezza and Heatley took Ottawa to the Stanley Cup Finals last year – what are you not convinced of, exactly?

    That with the loss of Comrie and Preissing and Schaefer and the soon to be loss of Redden and possibly Kelly and possible slow down of Alfredsson that they will be able to bring in enough players around $15 million Spezza-Heatley to contend.

    Elite-level talent was far easier to acquire when all it took was having more dollars than another team or taking on their inevitable salary dumps.

    Not really. You couldn’t go out and sign acquire Briere in his prime for nothing but money.

  10.  

    The loss of Comrie? So the loss of rent-a-player is now huge? I understand the Senators are losing depth, but they have guys like Eaves and Vermette who should step up.

    Who says the Senators are going to lock up Spezza long-term?

    Not really. You couldn’t go out and sign acquire Briere in his prime for nothing but money.

    I don’t think there’s much value in doing this, though – sure, you couldn’t add Briere in his prime, but you could also add any player over 31 whom you pleased for any amount of money. Plenty of guys made it to UFA and were still effective players at the age of 31 and beyond.

    Briere is terribly overrated as it stands. No contending team should be able to add a player like him – oh wait, except for a team who’s been smart and has got lots of young players to fill holes! Not that they’re important, though.

  11.  

    “Penner was not drafted. He signed as an undrafted free agent and was 24 years old last spring so is not your typical draft pick.”

    It doesn’t matter, he was still signed to an entry level contract. That’s the point that was made.

    “The majority of draft picks won’t provide a lot of value during the first few years of their NHL career. Second or third line status at best.”

    Do you have any idea how much money you can save by filling a 2nd and 3rd line in with quality players on entry level contracts?

    Come on. It’s all related. The less you spend on a guy for 3 years is the more you can spend on a top player over that same time period.

    In today’s league, 3 years is a long time.

  12.  

    Not to mention that most of the prime UFA candidates never even hit the open market, as any Leaf fan would recognize when all of the hype begins to build around signing a Lecavalier, or a Iginla, or a Heatley.

  13.  

    “I never said it wasn’t. What I said is that drafting and developing are less important now than in the past and that pro scouting is probably more important than drafting and developing.”

    they wouldnt have pronger without good drafting. keep in mind they gave up smid, lupul and some picks. sure drafting doesnt always produce stars. but if u have highly touted prospects, u can trade them for something valuable. and theres alot of highly touted prospects.

    and sure theres nothing wrong with trading away picks. eventually every team making a push for a cup will have to trade picks. but the leafs have traded 5 of their alst 7 1st round picks, and i think they havent picked below 50th in quite some time, i cant remember where i read the article, but their drafting record these past few years is non existant practically. the leafs have practically given up on the draft and resorted to trading their picks for more expensive average players without 2way contracts.

  14.  

    Remember than Smid was a 9th overall pick and Lupul was a 7th overall pick. The Leafs, or any persistantly good team, never draft that high. So basically the Ducks got Pronger because they sucked for a few years. I don’t doubt that if you rack up a lot of top 10 picks that it can be of great benefit but you don’t do that if you are a good team.

    i cant remember where i read the article, but their drafting record these past few years is non existant practically. the leafs have practically given up on the draft and resorted to trading their picks for more expensive average players without 2way contracts.

    Search the Steve Simmons archives because that is the kind of drivel he would write.

    First off, two-way contracts or not is next to meaningless to the Leafs because if a guy isn’t performing and there is a better replacement in the system the Leafs can demote the player to the AHL and eat the contract. Second, a reasonable analysis of the draft would indicate that Vesa Toskala has a much better chance of playing a prominant role with the Leafs down the road than any 13th overall draft pick in a weak draft year.

    Besides, you yourself identified the value of drafting well and trading those players for guys who can contribute now. Well, trading a draft pick is more or less the same thing so I don’t see how it is a concern trading away picks.

    Besides, the Leafs drafts haven’t been as bad as many people think. Since 1998 the Leafs have drafted

    1998 – Nik Antropov
    1999 – Luca Cereda
    2000 – Brad Boyes
    2001 – Carlo Colaiacovo
    2002 – Alex Steen
    2005 – Tuukka Rask
    2006 – Jiri Tlusty

    It is still early to determine how Tlusty and Rask will turn out but the others have turned out pretty well aside from Cereda who had health (heart issues) problems stand in his way of developing. They traded away their 2003 and 2004 picks which turned out to be Mark Stuart (drafted by Boston) and Lauri Korpikowski (drafted by Rangers) and neither of them have accomplished much at the NHL level yet.

    In that time they have also drafted Ponikarovsky, Wellwood, Tellqvist, Pilar, Bell, Stajan, White, Kronwall, Stralman, Pogge that have all had some level of success in the NHL or project to have some level of success. I think if you compared that to other teams they would probably fit middle of the pack in terms of drafting success.

  15.  

    The problem isn’t the Leafs drafting in the past, it’s what they’ve got in their system now – squat. They’re ranked 25th by Hockey’s Future, and that seems largely based on Pogge and Tlusty.

    Furthermore, you identify Lupul and Smid as ‘the result of finishing poorly’. Tlusty was a 13th overall pick, Smid 9th – is there that big a difference? The Ducks did get somewhat ‘lucky’ to finish as poorly as they did in 2004 – it gave them higher odds of landing the Crosby pick as well as giving them a key trading piece in Smid.

    You identify Mark Stuart and Lauri Korpikorski as players selected with the Leafs’ picks. C’mon. Who says the Leafs would’ve taken those players? As it stands, the 2003 draft seems fairly successful, and the Leafs could’ve gotten themselves a nice player like Ryan Kesler or Corey Perry had they selected there (as well as projects like Stuart, Anthony Stewart, etc.). Korpikoski was selected one before Travis Zajac and two before Wojtek Wolski, both of whom will be very effective NHL players. Andrej Meszaros is also in there.

    The Leafs do have some solid young-ish talent. I agree they are middle of the pack. The issue is that they don’t have many players coming in on entry level deals – and that means lack of depth or lack of top-end talent.

  16.  

    Hockey’s Future rates the Leafs as 25th, and rates Montreal as 2nd. The Leafs top prospects are Pogge, Tlusty, Kulemin, Earl, Stralman, and Williams. Montreal gets points based on can’t miss prospects like Carey Price, Ryan McDonagh, the Kostitsyn brothers, Kyle Chipchura, and Maxim Laperriere?

    Ok lets review these picks. They rate Price as an 8.0 B, and Pogge as an 8.0 C. That means they’re considered equivalent currently but they think Price might drop 1 rating point, and Pogge might drop 2. At this point Price is ahead because of last season in the AHL. They’ve both won at the World Juniors, and they’ve both excelled in the CHL. If Pogge and the Marlies continue to play well as they have this early in the season, then the difference between the two will again be negligible.

    The best D prospect for Montreal is McDonagh. He’s rated an 8.0 C, but so far the highest level he’s played at is Minnesota High School hockey. As much as he’s highly touted, I don’t know that you can say much beyond he’s good “all around” and was named Mr. Hockey in Minnesota last year. So was John Pohl at one point, so again I’m not sure what that’s worth this early. The Leafs top D man in the system currently is Anton Stralman, who happens to have played on the World Championship team for Sweden (very well mind you) and has competed against men for the past few years admirably. He’s rated as a 7.0 C but considering the fact that he’s less physically imposing than McDonagh, and he’s going to be trying to crack a D corps that already has Kaberle, McCabe, Kubina, White, Colaiacovo, Gill, Woznewski, Kronwall, and Harrison ahead of him… I’m not sure this is a huge area of issue for the Leafs anyway.

    As for forwards, the Habs have Chipchura, and the Kostitsyn bros. The Leafs have Tlusty, Kulemin and Earl. Chipchura is the least likely to drop in value for Montreal, but he’s mainly a skilled defensive forward with offensive potential. Andrei Kostitsyn is a scoring wunderkind, but he’s injury prone and has a history of back problems and his challenges defensively limit his potential. His little brother Sergei is less highly rated. For the Leafs, Tlusty is actually now their highest rated prospect as an 8.0 B, placing him on par with Price. He’s more highly rated than any other player in Montreal’s system. As for Kulemin, the guy is one of the top scorers for Metallurg Magnorsk in the Russian men’s league, and he was the “workhorse” linemate of Ovechkin and Malkin that covered up their defensive lapses. He’s fast, he forechecks, and he puts the puck in the net, and has done so at every level with a wonderful work ethic. The only reason he’s not in North America is because he’s still under contract in Russia. Robbie Earl is very gifted offensively but is a bit undersized and needs work defensively. That said, he’s no lower in ratings than 4th or 5th on Montreal’s list.

    Basically my point is, the top end players in both systems are very comparable, so the distinction between the two at 2nd and 25th is remarkably over-simplistic. Especially when one considers that the rankings are based on organizational depth, and focus on ALL positions. A team like the Leafs may not focus on Defence because of a plethora of young D men. And if you replaced Raycroft with Rask in their system, they’d likely be much more highly rated. All-in-all… the Leafs have NOT been drafting poorly, people just like to jump on the bandwagon in giving them the short-shrift and claiming JFJ is an idiot. The man’s done a lot to improve the Leafs frankly, and I think ditching him would be a mistake.

  17.  

    I don’t want to bash HockeysFuture too much because they do some good stuff but let me just say that most of these guys aren’t exactly what you would call ‘pro scouts’. Price is be a better prospect than Pogge and some of their forward prospects have more offensive upside than some of the Leafs forward prospects but overall Montreal doesn’t really have a great system either.

  18.  

    I’m not a big fan of Hockey’s Future – it’s basically regurigating other opinions, a kind of rottentomatoes for NHL prospects. I haven’t read much over there in years.

    I don’t think Montreal is #2 either, and I think since the new CBA began their ‘ratings’ have become more arbitrary, but I was simply stating that I don’t think the Leafs have all that much prospect depth, and that others agree.

  19.  

    You know the simple point of the matter looking back at things……. the leafs defense made Raycroft look bad. Sure he let in the weak odd goal but he stood on his head more time then not. I think he is better than Toskala who kicks out rebounds every chance he gets. I think the leafs wasted their draft picks.

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