Morning Mashup: Grading the Offseason Acquisitions


Photo: Rick Madonik/Toronto Star

It’s the middle of November, and schools across the land are giving out report cards.  Meanwhile, in the nation’s universities, professors’ TAs are hard at work grading students’ essays before the drop date.  With just over 20% of the Leafs season in the books, let’s take a look at how Brian Burke’s prized acquisitions have fared so far.

David Steckel
Grade: B+

He’s no superstar, but he tries hard, and effort and attention to detail will always earn part marks.  For such a big guy, it’s the little things he does so well, whether it’s blocking shots or winning over 60% of his face-offs.  He’s the leader amongst the Leafs forward corps in hits (42, tied for team lead with Luke Schenn), blocked shots (20) and penalty kill time on ice per game (2:45).  Had a three game goal scoring streak early in the season and his ability to win key draws has improved the Leafs possession numbers all season. He’s a big body up front who provides an inside presence, and that’s a lacking element on this roster.

Matthew Lombardi
Grade: C+

Originally on the waiting list with concussion symptoms, Lombardi’s appearance in every game this season has been in itself shocking.  However, the former 20-goal/50-point man has a luke warm 6 points in 18 games, leaving fans wanting more.  At times he’s seemed lost on the ice, and two turnovers of his have led directly to goals that have put away games.

Tim Connolly
Grade: Incomplete; medical exemption

Hard to really gauge Connolly’s performance since he’s only skated in 6 games this season.  When not injured, he’s put up a slightly above average 4 points and displaying excellent patience and vision with the puck.  He’s set to return from injury as early as Thursday, which will come as a welcome relief to the Leafs, who lost 1/3 of their top six last night against Phoenix.

Cody Franson
Grade: F

Boy’s got some attendance problems, having been a healthy scratch 14 of 18 games, with the leafs losing 3 of the 4 he has featured in.  Franson’s -5 rating isn’t all that desirable either.  At this stage, he’s got to be praying for an injury to the d-corps to bring him into the line up.  A far cry from being the treasure of the Lebda trade a mere 4 months ago.

Philippe Dupuis
Grade: C+

Although Dupuis wasn’t brought in to score, going 0 for 16 hasn’t instilled much belief that he isn’t an interchangeable 4th line grinder.  His high sticking penalty which led to Ottawa’s 5 – 3 power play goal left a sour taste in the mouths of many in Leafs Nation.  Nonetheless, when he does feature on the penalty kill, he’s been solid and he’s 3rd amongst Leaf forwards with 27 hits.

John-Michael Liles
Grade: A-

So far Liles has been a decided upgrade over the latter day Tomas Kaberle.  He’s been integral to the Leafs power play improvement with half of his 10 points coming on the man advantage while leading the team in PPTOI/G (4:12).  He may be a poor man’s Andrei Markov, but his insertion into the line up has reawakened Mike Komisarek’s game.  Defensively, he’s a mixed bag, blocking 38 shots, good for second on the team while recording a dismal 14 giveaways.  When he’s on his game, Liles makes the right decisions in all three zones and has knack finding a streaking winger on the break out.

Onto the links:

If you haven’t already (who am I kidding, you already have) check out Mislav’s game in ten from last night.

Garrett Bauman with another excellent excavation of the CBA’s rules as it relates to contact with goaltenders.

Terry Koshan’s recap of last night’s game.

The Star on the GM meetings new focus on protecting goaltenders.

Lombardi doing his best to get bumped up to a B- and improve his overall score on his transcripts.

Down Goes Brown takes a look at the recent inductees to the Hockey Hall of Fame as only he can.