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Analysis: Next Maple Leafs coach needs team to adapt

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 3:38 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Former Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle bought into the modern puck possession-based statistics because he knew his team wasn't playing the right way and because the organization was making a big push to incorporate more analytics.

Need proof? Here is what Carlyle said before this season about Toronto's collapse last season:

"We always felt we needed to change our puck possession, specifically in the offensive zone, not be a one-and-out team and not be considered a rush team, but try to create more of a cycle game, grind teams down to play with the puck more," Carlyle said. "We weren't able to do that."

So yes, Carlyle knew the Maple Leafs were a bad puck possession team last season and how that needed to change this season. He knew the Maple Leafs hired assistant general manager Kyle Dubas in part to provide statistical proof that the team was not playing a winning brand of hockey.


WHL move could spur Draisaitl's development

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 2:11 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - Correspondent

EDMONTON — During his brief time coaching this season, Edmonton Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish saw the extent of rookie center Leon Draisaitl's frustration with his play.

However, MacTavish would only contemplate sending Draisaitl, 19, back to junior if a contending Western Hockey League team owned his rights. Edmonton did not want Draisaitl returning to the Prince Albert Raiders this season.

"I had a real specific destination for Leon in mind and I talked to [Raiders GM] Bruno Campese saying it was very unlikely that he would be reassigned back to P.A.," MacTavish said on Tuesday. "At one of those conversations I said to Bruno that I had this specific situation that I thought was going to be ideal for Leon and if that situation was satisfied, there would be a likelihood that we would send him back."

Tuesday, the WHL announced Prince Albert traded Draisaitl's rights to the Kelowna Rockets in exchange for European import left wing Kris Schmidli, defenseman Dalton Yorke, a first-round pick in the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft, a fourth round pick in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft and a conditional pick.


Maple Leafs seek consistency in wake of Carlyle firing

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 1:11 PM / News

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO – Toronto Maple Leafs players believe their top priority now is finding consistency.

That was the message the players delivered following their first practice under interim coaches Peter Horachek and Steve Spott after coach Randy Carlyle was fired Tuesday. Horachek and Spott are expected to run the bench when the Maple Leafs play the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at Air Canada Centre.

"We have to find a way to become more consistent," said defenseman Dion Phaneuf. "Because we have shown we have a group that can play. We have to build that from within. It's up to us as players to build it."

"For the last little bit here that is what it has been about," said right wing and leading scorer Phil Kessel. "We play well for stretches and then we just lose our game. That's disappointing. It's not Randy's fault that we have been playing bad."


Lightning defenseman Gudas to miss four months

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 1:02 PM / News

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Radko Gudas is expected to miss four months with a right knee injury that required surgery, the Lightning announced Tuesday.

The timeline means Gudas wouldn't return during the regular season and probably not until the second or third round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"He brings a lot of grit. Especially on our team, it's a big hole," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "You feel for him because he's really finding his own in the League, for this to happen to him, it's tough."


Fantasy top 100 forwards: Rise of Columbus' Foligno

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 12:09 PM / Fantasy Hockey Draft Rankings, Advice and Analysis

Pete Jensen - Fantasy Insider

Every Tuesday during the season, fantasy hockey insider Pete Jensen will provide you with in-depth forward analysis. From updated weekly top 100 rankings to trending players and more, Jensen will be your go-to guy for fantasy forward advice all season long.

This fantasy season has been a big surprise party. Late-round draft picks and waiver-wire pickups have run rampant and turned out to be elite-level forwards.

No exaggeration.

In my top 20 fantasy forward rankings alone, three players (Vladimir Tarasenko, Tyler Johnson, Filip Forsberg) were drafted on average in the 10th round or later in Yahoo leagues.

But one player who has especially mystified fantasy owners (in a good way, if he's on your team) is Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets. All of a sudden, he's one of the most well-rounded offensive players in the game.


Maple Leafs fire Randy Carlyle as coach

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 11:48 AM / News

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

Randy Carlyle paid the price for the inconsistencies of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The coach was fired Tuesday because of the inability to get his team to play in a consistent manner through the first three months of the season, according to David Nonis, the team's senior vice president and general manager.

"One of the things you have all heard me say since training camp is we felt we need to see some level of consistency, and I think we would all agree we've shown some good stretches, but I don't think I can stand in front of you and say we have been consistent," Nonis said at a Tuesday morning press conference. "We just felt that at this point that this was the right time to make the change and move ahead and try to get this team playing like we have been during periods of this season."

Assistant coaches Peter Horachek and Steve Spott will handle the coaching duties when the Maple Leafs host the Washington Capitals on Wednesday at the Air Canada Center.


Rangers assign forward Duclair to junior team

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 10:22 AM / News

The New York Rangers on Tuesday assigned forward Anthony Duclair to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Duclair comes off a World Junior Championship tournament in which he had four goals, eight points and a plus-11 rating as Canada won the gold medal.

The 19-year-old had one goal and seven points in 18 games for the Rangers. He was a third-round pick (No. 80) in the 2013 NHL Draft.


McDavid, Eichel add to reputations at World Juniors

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 9:30 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TORONTO -- The border battle between forwards Connor McDavid of Canada and Jack Eichel of the United States, the projected top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, never fully materialized at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Still, each player certainly had his fair share of highlight-reel moments.

In the end, McDavid added a WJC gold medal to his trophy case while Eichel went home empty-handed for a second straight year in what will likely be the final opportunity for each player at the tournament designed for the best junior-aged players in the world.

Each player is expected to be making contributions in the NHL in 2015-16.

"I think the team picking first [at the NHL Draft] needs to give equal consideration to each of them," NHL Network analyst Craig Button said. "Neither one of them has given me any reason to change that outlook."

FULL STORY ›EMAIL & SHARE OPTIONS ›|Comment › |Print ›'s 2015 World Juniors All-Tournament Team

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 9:06 AM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

TORONTO -- There were plenty of magical moments to share and players to praise during the 11-day journey to crown gold medalist Canada at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship at Air Canada Centre on Monday.

When Canadian fans weren't rooting for the host nation, their allegiance shifted to the darlings from Denmark. The Danes gave us one of the more memorable locker room celebrations at the WJC when, after a 4-3 shootout victory against Switzerland on Dec. 30 to earn a berth into the playoff round, they huddled, jumped and sang behind closed doors and were deemed hockey heroes in their country.


Bruins recall Czech forward Pastrnak

Tuesday, 01.06.2015 / 8:43 AM / News

Forward David Pastrnak was recalled by the Boston Bruins on Tuesday.

Pastrnak, who was playing for the Providence Bruins (American Hockey League), was on temporary duty with the Czech Republic's Under-20 team, playing in the IIHF World Junior Championship. He had one goal and six assists to lead the Czechs in scoring in their run to a loss in the quarterfinals.

Pastrnak will practice with Boston on Tuesday and be available for the game Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Penguins (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TVA).

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Quote of the Day

I always feel the pressure to produce offensively. It's disappointing and frustrating when you can't help out your team the way you're supposed to.

— Rangers forward Rick Nash on scoring twice in a 5-1 Game 4 victory against the Lightning on Friday