That fourth Maple Leafs defenceman, and other Leaflets

Today on Twitter there was an informal discussion, as is wont to happen on that particular medium, about the fourth Leafs’ defenceman on the penalty kill. Ryan wrote about Komisarek earlier today, while I broke down a Pittsburgh zone entry that paints Komisarek in a bad light. Here’s the rest of the entry, and some added thoughts and afternoon links:

Those four images, in sequence, paint a picture of exactly Komisarek’s issues as a defenceman, namely that he’s too slow and despite his physical abilities, acts in reaction to the chain of events rather than having instincts allowing him to predict them.

Last season, the Leafs’ leaders in shorthanded time were Carl Gunnarsson, Dion Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner and Komisarek. Luke Schenn also played 1:20 a game, meaning that there is some time that needs to be replaced, but by who, it isn’t necessarily clear. The Leafs would have to hope for one of their current minor leaguers to fill in and do the job.

Here’s a chart with the best Leafs’ penalty killers on defence given regular playing time. I’ve sorted the chart by fewest shots given up 4-on-5 in a 60-minute period. I also included the Leafs overall as a team:

2010-2011 Dion Phaneuf 6.7 45.6
2009-2010 Luke Schenn 8.3 45.8
2010-2011 Leafs Team 7.9 47.8
2007-2008 Bryan McCabe 8.3 47.8
2007-2008 Leafs Team 7.0 48.0
2010-2011 Mike Komisarek 8.5 48.8
2010-2011 Luke Schenn 8.5 48.8
2011-2012 Jake Gardiner 6.1 48.9
2010-2011 Carl Gunnarsson 9.0 49.6
2009-2010 Garnet Exelby 5.2 50.3
2007-2008 Pavel Kubina 7.0 50.5
2011-2012 Carl Gunnarsson 7.6 51.0
2011-2012 Leafs Team 7.4 51.1
2009-2010 Dion Phaneuf 5.3 51.3
2011-2012 Dion Phaneuf 7.1 52.8
2008-2009 Leafs Team 9.5 53.7
2008-2009 Jeff Finger 9.8 54.2
2009-2010 Leafs Team 8.4 54.9
2008-2009 Pavel Kubina 8.5 55.2
2008-2009 Ian White 9.8 55.7
2009-2010 Francois Beauchemin 9.8 56.5
2008-2009 Luke Schenn 10.0 56.5

Despite giving up a tonne of goals, the Leafs had their best season to date in pure shot count in the BtN era in 2011. Who were their time on ice leaders? I looked at forwards as well to see if there was anything to gain, surely enough…

Player SH TOI/G
Luke Schenn 2:44
Carl Gunnarsson 2:36
Keith Aulie 2:04
Michael Zigomanis 2:01
Tim Brent 1:58
Dion Phaneuf 1:57
Colby Armstrong 1:51
Tyler Bozak 1:48
Fredrik Sjostrom 1:38
Mike Brown 1:35
Mike Komisarek 1:33
Mikhail Grabovski 1:00

I’m not Don Cherry. I don’t believe Mike Zigomanis holds the cure to fixing the PK, although I did negotiate him a roster spot last season and he was never called up. In the light of the Jay McClement signing, the Leafs don’t need him anymore. It hurt the Leafs a lot that Luke Schenn just sort of fizzled out as an NHLer. He had a bad 2009, mediocre 2010, a solid 2011 and collapsed last season.

I think the Leafs will have to bank on Komisarek not just playing the PK this season, but being much, much better, unless they pick somebody up. Their options, especially since dealing Schenn, are slim, and I’m not sure I’m too enamoured with the idea of giving Gardiner more time at the PK than he can handle. His offensive talents are more valuable at even strength and on the powerplay.


  • Kyle The Reporter introduces himself to Leo Komarov. Toronto Marlies’ training camp should start up tomorrow. [Kyle The Reporter]
  • Brian Burke is high on Morgan Rielly, and has “a great deal of respect for [Moose Jaw coach] Mike [Stothers]. This is a guy that I watched turn Bobby Ryan into a hockey player in Owen Sound.” [Discover Moose Jaw]
  • If you’re into good, long reads, here is RexLibris discussing corporate integration between NHL and CHL clubs. [Oilers Nation]
  • The situation with the SEL. The Leafs’ tie-in here is that Carl Gunnarsson is in Sweden, but doesn’t have a team to play with yet, the last I hear. [Canucks Army]
  • According to Bob MacKenzie last night, the Leafs reserved the right to call Rielly and David Broll to NHL camp should there be a lockout resolution. Broll, who scored just eight goals last season seems like an odd choice. Here’s a story from earlier this month about how Broll is going to spend this season becoming more of a hockey player. Two games into the season, and he scored his first goal. [Sault Star]