Tag: Randy Carlyle

Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins

Panik to make Leafs debut Saturday


Richard Panik acquired by Toronto off waivers from Tampa Bay on Thursday is set to make his Leafs debut tonight.

The 23-year-old forward, who has never played at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre, is excited for the big stage.

“I haven’t played here because I was a healthy scratch when Tampa Bay played here,” said Panik. “It’s going to be my first game and I’m really excited. It’s a hockey town. Hockey Night in Canada so I’m really excited.”

It appears Panik will start the game against the Penguins on a line with former junior teammate Peter Holland.

“He has a history of playing with Peter Holland a little bit in Guelph in junior hockey,” said Leafs coach Randy Carlyle. “The research from the Tampa people, we’re getting a guy that can make plays.”

Panik has appeared in 75 career NHL games over two seasons all with the Lightning where he has eight goals and 22 points.

The 6-foot-2, 212 pound Slovakian native was originally Tampa Bay’s second round pick at the 2009 NHL Draft.

“I went over systems yesterday so I kind of knew,” said Panik of Carlyle’s style. “It’s pretty similar to Tampa Bay. Nothing major. Simple things. That’s what I’m going to focus on and hopefully it’s going to workout.

“When you can keep the puck in their zone, it’s way easier to play. I’m going to try to make some hits. Stay in the offensive zone.”

Panik made adjustments to his offseason training in an effort to get prepared for the 2014-15 season.

“Every workout that I had, I was trying to treat it like a game,” he said. “Be ready at the workout and I had a mental coach too. I think it’s more mental than physical so I was focusing on that.”

With Panik making his debut, it appears Carter Ashton and Matt Frattin will be healthy scratches against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Kontiola: ‘I’ve got to make that money at some point’

Petri Kontiola

For those who don’t remember Petri Kontiola, he’s the Finnish forward, who bought himself out of the final year of his contract, to return to the NHL.

It sounded like a good plan on paper. Kontiola, 30, spent roughly $500,000 of his own money to leave the KHL and sign a one-year, $1.1 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

However, injuries he was battling throughout the summer forced the Leafs to assign him to the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.

“There are always things that players have to adjust to,” Leafs coach Randy Carlyle told reporters last week following Kontola’s assignment. “We felt that he had a good start to camp, but once the pace of the camp, and the exhibition games got up there, that he wasn’t up to speed.

“He has been dealing with some injuries over the course of the last three months, he has some issues in that area, but we’re not in a position here to wait, we have to move forward.”

Originally a seventh-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004, Kontiola appeared in just 12 games for the Blackhawks during the 2007-08 season registering five assists.

Much of his first tour in North America was spent in the AHL with both the Rockford IceHogs and the Iowa Chops. Kontiola packed up and headed for the KHL following the 2008-09 season, but once again has the desire to play in North America and the NHL.

“That’s my goal,” he said of the NHL, despite starting the season Saturday in the AHL.

Kontiola also dispelled rumors he considered returning to Europe after things didn’t workout with the Leafs.

“I’m here right now, and I just want to get up there,” he said in regards to moving up to the NHL.

Kontiola also cleared up any health concerns saying, “I had something during the summer, but it’s all gone now and I’m ready to go.”

As for Carlyle’s comments about him not being up to speed at Leafs camp, Kontiola said, “I had my own reasons there. But I think I’m ready to play right now and just trying to work on my game.”

He joked, “I’ve got to make that money at some point” when asked whether he had any regrets buying out the final year of his deal in the KHL, but given his age and the money spent, there was likely quite a bit of truth there.

Though being so close to the NHL, affiliated with the Leafs, Kontiola appears quite far from being recalled by Toronto.

Toronto is deep at the forward position. Both Carter Ashton and Josh Leivo were healthy scratches for the season opener on Wednesday and Toronto acquired Richard Panik off waivers from Tampa Bay on Thursday.

Franson injury adds more questions to Leafs blue line

cody franson
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Perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs should avoid playing preseason games against the Buffalo Sabres altogether. Nothing good ever comes from said games.

For the second time in as many games the Leafs defeated the Sabres in preseason action Sunday night, but once again injuries are the hot topic in Toronto.

The Leafs lost forward David Booth (bruised foot) and defenseman Cody Franson (left leg) in the win.

Carlyle didn’t really have an update on Franson post-game, but offered up his “synopsis” to reporters.

“He went awkwardly into the boards and he fell pretty hard. It looked like he hit his knee cap or some part of the leg went underneath him into the boards first so I can’t really make a comment other than that synopsis,” said Carlyle.

As you see in the video, Franson gets a little shove from behind courtesy Sabres’ forward Torrey Mitchell, but it looks as though Franson could’ve injured his knee prior to hitting the boards when his skate gets caught near the top of the crease.

Franson and Booth’s injuries are in addition to David Clarkson (facial injury) and Henrik Tallinder (dislocated shoulder) who were sidelined on Friday night during the win in Buffalo.

It’s unclear if Tallidner would’ve actually made the club since he’s on a camp invite and without a contract, but Franson is one of the Leafs’ top four defensemen and spent last season alongside Dion Phaneuf on the top pairing on the power play.

The Leafs will likely start the season with Phaneuf, Roman Polak, Stephane Robidas, Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner on the blue line, but with Franson now in flux, it opens the door for another body at camp to get a longer look.

One of Stuart Percy, Korbinian Holzer or Petter Granberg are the likely candidates should Franson miss the start of the season.

“All three guys have different sets of skills, skill set that is a little bit different,” said Carlyle.

Percy, the Leafs first round pick (25th overall) in 2011 is coming off his first full pro season with the American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies. The 6-foot-1, 193 pound Ontario native had 25 points and a plus-4 rating in 71 games.

“You’d describe him as a puck-moving defenseman, that finds people, very heady,” Carlyle said of the 21-year-old.

Granberg, 22, the Leafs fourth round selection at the 2010 NHL Draft (116th overall) played his first season in North America last year appearing in 73 games for the Marlies.

Carlyle described Granberg as a “a robust, rough and tumble type of player.”

The native of Sweden made his NHL debut last season dressing in one game for the Leafs.

Holzer meanwhile is the most experienced of the three with 24 NHL games under his belt. The Leafs fourth round selection from the 2006 draft also spent all of last season in the AHL after starting the 2012-13 season with the Leafs.

“He’s a big man that cover’s a lot of space, got a good stick, strong defensively, good size,” Carlyle said of the 26-year-old German native.

“I wouldn’t say all three players would be the fastest players on the ice, but they’re efficient,” Carlyle added. “They are unique in their own special way.”

Neither defenseman will replace Franson in the short-term, but all three could get longer looks as the injuries continue to pile up for the Leafs.

As for Tallinder, an update is expected on his shoulder Monday.

Leafs’ Robidas cleared for contact, Clarkson injured


The Toronto Maple Leafs got a bit of good news and bad news Saturday.

The good: offseason acquisition Stephane Robidas (broken leg) has been cleared for contact and is nearing a return.

Robidas, who signed a three-year, $9 million contract with the Leafs in the summer, is coming off an injury plagued season in which he fractured his leg twice, first with the Dallas Stars and then with the Anaheim Ducks.

“I felt really good, there’s no pain or anything like that, it’s just the timing,” said Robidas following Saturday’s Leafs practice at the Air Canada Centre. “I think I need a few practices. Today was the first real practice that I did. We did a little bit of scrimmage.

“I couldn’t skate with anyone this summer so I just skated on my own. Conditioning wise I felt really good.”

The 37-year-old defenseman won’t play Sunday when the Leafs play the second of a home-and-home with the Buffalo Sabres in Toronto, but is hoping to be ready for the Leafs preseason finale on Oct. 3.

On Saturday, he spent time practicing with Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf in what could be Toronto’s top pairing during the regular season.

“He’s a really good player,” said Robidas. “I’ve had the chance to see him play over the years. He’s a solid two-way player. He can move the puck and he can be physical. For me, it’s a big thing to play on the right side, I can’t play the left side so we’ll see what happens there.

“I’m comfortable playing with anyone, if I have a chance to play with a guy like Dion, for sure it’d be a lot of fun.”

The bad: forward David Clarkson was scheduled to see doctors Saturday to have his cheekbone looked at.

Clarkson dropped the gloves with Sabres tough guy Cody McCormick during the third period of the Leafs 6-4 win in Buffalo Friday night.

Clarkson took a big left hook from McCormick under the right eye and headed straight to the Leafs dressing room following the fight.

It was the 30-year-old’s first preseason game of the year as he missed the first four nursing a lower body injury.

If you’re a Leafs fan, you have to hope this isn’t a serious injury. Clarkson of course was suspended 10 games after leaving the bench to join an altercation against the very same Buffalo Sabres during the preseason last year. That suspension coupled with others and injuries allowed Clarkson to play in just 60 games last season where he scored a career-low five goals and 11 points.  This after he signed a monstrous seven-year, $37 million contract last summer.

Memo to Clarkson: maybe keep the gloves on, especially in the preseason.

Tallinder to see specialist

Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Saturday that any further information on defenseman Henrik Tallinder, who suffered a dislocated shoulder Friday, would come after further assessment. Tallinder, 35,  is at Leafs camp on a tryout.

Leafs make roster moves

The Leafs announced Saturday that Trevor Smith, Kevin Marshall and Spencer Abbott, all who were placed on waivers Friday, had cleared and would report to the AHL’s Marlies.

Toronto also assigned forward Tyler Biggs and goaltender Garret Sparks to their AHL affiliate Saturday.

Would the Leafs break up their top line?

Phil Kessel

The Toronto Maple Leafs top line of Tyler Bozak between Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk combined for 133 points or 70 percent of the team’s scoring last season.

They were second only to Boston’s trio of Milan Lucic, David Krejci and Jarome Iginla, which accounted for 152 points in 2013-14.

However, James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail suggests it might make sense to break up the trio and spread the scoring around.

“Would that idiot break up that line?” coach Randy Carlyle said. “You’re saying that [about me]. Or you’re going to say it if I do it.”

Carlyle added, “We’re willing to experiment in training camp.”

That experimenting began on Saturday.

The Leafs dressed lines of Nazem Kadri, van Riemsdyk and Matt Frattin while Kessel played alongside Petri Kontiola and first-round pick William Nylander during a scrimmage on Day 3 of training camp.

The question of breaking up the top trio is prevalent as the Leafs attempt to find that elusive secondary scoring.

As Mirtle points out in his piece, winger Joffrey Lupul has played nearly half his even strength minutes over the past three seasons alongside Kessel. When the duo is together, the Leafs account for 3.7 goals per game. With them playing on separate lines, that number drops to 2.5 goals per game.

Keep in mind that’s a small sample size, but wherever Kessel plays, scoring seems to follow.

“You find ways to get it done out there,” Kessel said. “Obviously training camp’s getting used to guys and getting a feel for it.”

Kadri could also benefit from playing alongside van Riemsdyk on the team’s second line.

“If you see the teams that have success and make the deep playoff runs… they’re pretty balanced,” van Riemsdyk said. “They have a lot of depth. They can beat you in different ways.”

Expect the experimentation process to continue as Toronto begins its’ preseason schedule Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Related: Leafs deny rift between Kessel and coaching staff