Tag: Toronto Maple Leafs


Would Kessel work better with Crosby or Malkin?


Phil Kessel joining the Pittsburgh Penguins inspires some intriguing questions, and one of the most enjoyable ones is: should he line up with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin?

If you’ve followed how the modern NHL works, the most accurate answer is probably the evasive one: “both.”

Head coaches love to juggle combinations, especially early on in a season, so the high-scoring sniper will likely get multiple looks with the two dynamic pivots. Heck, the Penguins could terrify opposing defenses (and penalty kill units) by sending all three out, especially when they need a goal or two.

All of those disclaimers aside, it’s still a pretty fun thing to debate, particularly during the hockey-starved summer.

Interestingly, it seems like quite a few people argue that Kessel might click with Malkin more than Crosby, and the theme of such arguments comes down to meshing styles.

Note this stance from NHL.com’s Dan Rosen:

With Kessel and Malkin on the ice together, there would be constant movement and interplay between two threats able to score on virtually any possession in the attacking zone.

Crosby plays more of a north-south game of direct lines and quick puck movement. Crosby’s linemates have to think the game quickly, react quickly, and be ready in a hurry. He wants his wings to be predictable.

The Hockey Writers’ Mike Colligan floated a similar theory:

Malkin and Kessel also play an instinctual style as opposed to the precise, tactical approach of Crosby. Much like Mario Lemieux, Malkin and Kessel know exactly when to take off up the ice before hockey fans (and most opponents) even realize there’s a breakaway opportunity. They react to the game as it unfolds, which can be a nightmare for linemates who don’t have the same mindset.

Naturally, Kessel could just easily find chemistry with Crosby. In simplified terms, the American winger is a natural sniper while Crosby ranks as one of the NHL’s most gifted passers. Actually, let’s go even simpler: that duo could work simply because of their sheer skill.

Pensburgh brings up an interesting idea, too: Malkin may very well prosper with Kessel in town even if the former Maple Leaf isn’t his winger. “Geno” had to deal with makeshift wingers while Crosby skated alongside David Perron and Patric Hornqvist in 2014-15, yet Kessel arguably allows other Penguins forwards to fall in more comfortable spots.


It’s obviously way too early to predict how this will shake out, especially since the Penguins could conceivably shake up their roster a bit more before the 2015-16 campaign kicks into gear. Either way, it should be fun to find out how Kessel fits in Pittsburgh, though.

Related: Crosby thinks that Kessel is excited to join the Penguins.

Dubas wouldn’t be surprised if Kadri makes Leafs pay with next deal

Ottawa Senators v Toronto Maple Leafs

After signing a one-year deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Nazem Kadri seems to be at a fork in the road. His team realizes that at least one path could lead to riches, too.

Stats-leaning types believe that Kadri could be capable of big things, and that seemingly includes some executives in the Leafs organization. Assistant GM Kyle Dubas told Sportsnet 590 on Friday that he expects Kadri to “show a lot of people what he’s made of this year.”

“I know with Mike [Babcock], he’s put it to Naz and he expects him to be an elite player, he expects him to reach his potential, and if he does that he’s going to play a ton and he’s going to score a lot,” Dubas said. “… He’ll have the chance to take us to the bank.”

If that happens and Kadri shows that he’s worth a lot more than the $4.1 million he’ll make in 2015-16, Dubas said that the Leafs will be “happy to pay him.”

One thing seems clear: it’s tough to imagine this mulligan of a contract year going much worse than 2014-15 did.

We can spout out numbers for and against the 24-year-old, yet you only need to note how his season ended to get a picture of how rough things were. A snooze button malfunction prompted the team to suspend him and tell Kadri to “grow up.” He followed that reprimand with a suspension-worthy hit that was poorly timed, even by suspension standards. Former coach Ron Wilson also piled on for whatever reason.

Amid all that drama, Kadri only managed 39 points last season, down from 50 in 2013-14 and 44 in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign.

Yep, that’s a bad year.

The talent is indeed there for a big turnaround, so here’s hoping Kadri pulls out some cool training videos like he did last summer (he’d prefer with better results):

Related: Mike Babcock thinks Kadri has elite potential

Crosby on Kessel: ‘He seems like he’s excited’

150710_CrosbyKessel (2)

Sidney Crosby knows his team struggled to score goals last season.

Newly acquired Phil Kessel is coming off a down campaign too for that matter, but the 27-year-old forward’s goal scoring prowess is well documented, especially after he averaged 30 goals per season during his six campaigns in Toronto without the benefit of playing with a top-tier center.

Combining him with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin has the potential to bolster both sides.

As Crosby put it, there’s “a lot of anticipation.”

“It’s a nice addition to our team,” Crosby told TSN on Thursday. “Obviously he’s a great scorer, brings a lot, and offensively he’s going to help any team so we’re happy to have him.

“From talking to him, he seems like he’s excited. I think it’ll be something everybody is looking forward to this season.”

Kessel was dealt by the Leafs to the Penguins on July 1 and is looking forward to the fresh start.

“For it to be Pittsburgh … with everything that franchise has meant and two of the best players in the world there … I never would have thought I’d have the chance to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to play on a team like the Penguins,” he said. “It’s just amazing. I’m so pumped.”

Kessel is so “pumped” about the change of scenery that he’s reportedly turned to fitness guru, and former Penguin, Gary Roberts to help him get into shape for the upcoming season.

The Madison, WI native is coming off his worst goals-for total in an 82 game season since his second year in the league.

Related: ‘It’s hard to find players like Phil Kessel’

Leafs sign Marincin to a one-year deal

Martin Marincin

The Toronto Maple Leafs have locked up restricted free agent defenseman Martin Marincin to a one-year deal.

According to Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston, it’s a one-way contract worth $700,000.

The 23-year-old’s three-year, entry-level deal expired last week.

Marincin was acquired by the Leafs from the Oilers at the NHL Draft in exchange for Brad Ross and a 2015 fourth-round draft pick.

Marincin has appeared in 85 NHL games with the Oilers scoring one goal and 10 assists.

The 6-foot-4, 203-pound blue liner was originally a second round pick (46th overall) by the Oilers at the 2010 NHL Draft.

With Marincin signed, the lone RFA on the Leafs roster is goaltender Jonathan Bernier.

Pens ink blueliner Dumoulin to two-year, $1.6M extension

Pittsburgh Penguins v Tampa Bay Lightning

Pittsburgh locked up RFA defenseman Brian Dumoulin on Thursday, signing the 23-year-old to a two-year, $1.6 million extension.

Dumoulin, acquired in the Jordan-Staal-to-Carolina trade three years ago, will carry an average annual cap hit of $800,000 with the new deal.

A former standout at Boston College, Dumoulin was taken 51st overall by the Hurricanes in ’09 and has appeared in 14 games with Pittsburgh over the last two seasons. He did take a leap forward late last year, however, suiting up for all five games of the Penguins’ opening-round playoff loss to the Rangers, in which he averaged 14:06 TOI per game.

Based on current roster projections, he’ll be battling for a spot in Pittsburgh’s top six next year with the likes of Derrick Pouliot and Tim Erixon.