Photo Credit: Eric Bolte/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Toronto Maple Leafs’ season opener is tomorrow, and we’re all very excited to see what many believe is a dawning of a new era occur before our very eyes. However, it’s not like we haven’t see them play yet; the team did just finish an eight-game run of exhibition games. Out of curiosity, I pulled their production and possession numbers together and put them into an easy-to-consume table.
Like the World Cup of Hockey possession and production breakdowns, it’s worth noting that we aren’t drawing any serious, long-term conclusions out of the below. That would be insane, given that these are warmup games with players playing with atypical linemates against other players playing with atypical linemates. Even in perfect roster situations, we’re still talking about a sample of, in an absolute best case scenario, 10% of a season.
We don’t even have a best case scenario here. Matt Hunwick, by the numbers (production numbers are sourced from foxsports.com and possession numbers are sourced from naturalstattrick.com), played more games than any other Leafs player, and he played six. To make matters worse, data for possession is even more limited, as play-by-play and RTSS statistics weren’t counted in the games Toronto played in Halifax, St. Catharines, Saskatoon, and Hamilton. So the even-strength Corsi and Zone Start data you see below is from half a preseason, not all of it. This also means that we don’t have ice time for these games, which is why production is raw and not rate-adjusted. So, again, don’t assume this will all stretch into Game 82.
|James van Riemsdyk||L||2||0||1||1||-20.1||-2.54||-8.26||46.67||Leafs|
With all that said, it gives you a decent idea of who had a good preseason and who didn’t. We can see that believing in Frank Corrado was a wise decision, as he lit up the scoresheet and dominated on possession, though he was put into a position to succeed with his deployment. Similar goes to Connor Carrick, who you should also believe in. We can see that Jake Gardiner was back to his usual play-driving tricks and that Zach Hyman’s hard-working efforts were more than just a casual observation.
We can see that Kerby Rychel had a rough go at it, and that’s a huge reason why he’ll start the season with the Marlies. Colin Greening, who was a possession driver at the end of last season, struggled heavily and that likely encouraged his waiver assignment. When I wrote my Matt Martin vs. Rich Clune post, I pointed out that shot suppression in fourth liners likely comes from the low-event playstyle that grinder-on-grinder brings; looking at the disparity between the two this preseason while Martin flanked scoring wingers makes that pretty evident, even if it’s a small sample.
What do you find interesting about the results? Do you feel anybody was given too much slack, or that someone should’ve been given a better chance based on what they did?
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