Summer Skate: Maple Leafs
Jake Gardiner is deserving of a more prominent role this season
Although the weather outside doesn't necessarily make us think of winter pursuits, it's a good time to take the temperature of every NHL team. Hockey Prospectus will guide us through the leaguewide tour, spotlighting one player trending up and one player trending down for each club, as well as a key statistic as we look ahead to the 2014-15 season. References will be made to goals versus threshold (GVT), a Hockey Prospectus proprietary statistic; for more on GVT, click here. All other advanced stats are courtesy of Stats.HockeyAnalysis.com.
After a hot start to 2013-14, the Maple Leafs fell apart down the stretch. They won just two of the final 10 games and dropped from a wild-card spot to a 12th-place finish in the East. Toronto's epic fall was rooted in its inability to control possession, which resulted in giving up the most shots against per game in the NHL. Early in the season, their goaltending tandem bailed them out; that proved to be an unsustainable model.
In response to the collapse, the Leafs made changes to their front office by naming Brendan Shanahan president and adding 28-year-old Kyle Dubas as assistant general manager. They did not make wholesale changes to the roster, only adding forwards Daniel Winnik and David Booth along with defenseman Stephane Robidas and Roman Polak.
With star talent up front in Phil Kessel, an improved defense and that same level of goaltending, it is possible Toronto could compete for a playoff slot. If not, more changes will be coming.
Trending up: Jake Gardiner, D