NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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1. Charting a new course
One of the most remarkable transformations in the NHL in recent seasons has been the Toronto Maple Leafs' improvement in shot-based metrics.
Between 2012-13 and 2014-15, the Maple Leafs were outshot 10,653-8,538 in 5-on-5 shot attempts for an SAT differential of minus-2,115 that ranked 29th in the League, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres (minus-3,151). Though good shooting and hot goaltending sometimes can keep teams competitive for a little while, teams with poor shot-based metrics eventually tumble down the standings.
Toronto has reversed course under president Brendan Shanahan, who hired coach Mike Babcock on May 20, 2015, and general manager Lou Lamoriello on July 23, 2015. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the Maple Leafs have outshot their opponents 7,703-7,439 for an SAT differential of plus-264 (13th).
Video: 31 in 31: Toronto Maple Leafs 2017-18 season preview
2. Loss of discipline
One of the most interesting anomalies from last season was forward Nazem Kadri's sudden change in penalty differential.
Going into last season, Kadri had drawn 205 penalties and took 91 of his own in 326 NHL games for a penalty differential of 28.8 per 82 games that ranked among the best in the League.
Though these types of statistics tend to remain relatively consistent throughout a player's career, Kadri drew 31 penalties and was called for 39 in 82 games last season for a penalty differential of minus-8.
On a per-82-game basis, Kadri's rate of drawing penalties fell from an NHL career average of 51.7 to 31, a decrease of 40 percent, and his own penalties increased by 69.6 percent from an average of 23.0 to 39.
3. Matt Martin's physical play
In terms of sheer numbers, Martin has been the best hitter in the NHL.
The veteran forward had 300 hits last season, second to Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki (364). It was the first time that Martin failed to lead the League in hits since he was a rookie in 2010-11.
It's important to note the various factors that can affect a player's hit total, including ice time and the different rates at which hits are recorded by NHL scorekeepers from one city to another.
Borowiecki averaged 14:00 of ice time per game last season, and Martin's average ice time fell from 10:33 with the New York Islanders in 2015-16 to 8:53 with the Maple Leafs.
Martin led the NHL with an equivalent of 25.53 hits per 60 even-strength minutes the past three seasons when adjusted to League-average scorekeeping. Borowiecki ranked fifth (16.24).
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