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Leafs Beat

A blog on all things Toronto Maple Leafs

Entry archive:

Maple Leafs hire NHL’s Brandon Pridham as capologist

JAMES MIRTLE

Brendan Shanahan’s off-season busy work continues.

The Toronto Maple Leafs president made his second front office hire of the summer on Tuesday, adding Brandon Pridham, who Shanahan is well acquainted with from the league’s front office.

Pridham’s title will be “assistant to the general manager” but what his duties will really be are those of team capologist: “salary cap analysis, contract negotiations and collective bargaining agreement interpretation.”

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Mirtle: Dubas hire signals new era for Maple Leafs

JAMES MIRTLE

Few knew what to expect when Brendan Shanahan took over as president of the Toronto Maple Leafs three months ago.

He hadn’t worked for a team, was only five years removed from being on the ice and didn’t have any tangible connection to – or intimate knowledge of – the franchise and its people.

But here’s where Shanahan has succeeded already: He isn’t afraid to admit what he doesn’t know.

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Maple Leafs hire Steve Spott, Peter Horachek as assistant coaches

JAMES MIRTLE

The Toronto Maple Leafs long search for help for Randy Carlyle behind the bench has finally wrapped up.

And one of the hires is coming from within.

The Leafs promoted Toronto Marlies head coach Steve Spott and hired former Florida Panthers head coach Peter Horachek to be Carlyle’s assistants on Friday, adding two more voices to the mix as the organization attempts to radically change its playing style.

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Leafs sign Finnish centre Petri Kontiola

JAMES MIRTLE

The Toronto Maple Leafs have taken to raiding the Finnish national team this off-season.

The Leafs agreed to a one-year deal with playmaking centre Petri Kontiola on Thursday morning, bringing back the former Chicago Blackhawks draft pick (a seventh rounder in 2004) for an audition as a depth centre next season.

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Maple Leafs sign free agent centre Mike Santorelli

JAMES MIRTLE

Add Mike Santorelli to the pile of centres vying for ice time on the Toronto Maple Leafs next season.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis made a bargain buy of the former Vancouver Canucks centre on Thursday, giving the 28-year-old a one-year, $1.5-million deal. Santorelli had a breakthrough season in Vancouver after making the team out of camp, posting 28 points in 49 games before a season-ending shoulder injury.

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Mirtle: What should the Leafs do with James Reimer?

JAMES MIRTLE

There are plenty of burning questions left with this Toronto Maple Leafs roster.

They need another centre. They need more scoring depth. They may still yet change their blueline even further by moving Cody Franson.

And they need to figure out what exactly to do with James Reimer and their backup goalie situation.

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Mirtle: Maple Leafs still trying to recapture magic of lone recent playoff berth

JAMES MIRTLE

First the Toronto Maple Leafs swung a minor deal for Matt Frattin.

Less than an hour later, GM Dave Nonis had signed Leo Komarov to an eyebrow-raising four-year, $11.8-million deal.

In addition to signing vet defenceman Stephane Robidas, that was the sum total of the Leafs day on July 1, one that was aimed at regaining the “compete level” that Nonis and coach Randy Carlyle have been mourning for the last eight months.

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Maple Leafs sign Stephane Robidas, Leo Komarov

JAMES MIRTLE

The Toronto Maple Leafs makeover of their blueline continues.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis signed defenceman Stephane Robidas to a three-year deal in the opening two hours of free agency on Tuesday, giving him $3-million a season.

Robidas may be 37 and coming off of two significant leg injuries, but he had a good season last year split between Dallas and Anaheim and will help the Leafs defensively provided he’s healthy.

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Maple Leafs buy out Tim Gleason, rejected by Josh Gorges

JAMES MIRTLE

Add another name to the Toronto Maple Leafs lengthy list of players tossed on the scrap heap.

And another name of a player who doesn’t want to play for the Leafs.

The Leafs put defenceman Tim Gleason on unconditional waivers on Monday afternoon in order to buy out his contract. Because Toronto had already used its two compliance buyouts on Mike Komisarek and Mikhail Grabovski last year, Gleason’s will be what’s known as a regular-course buyout and put a charge against the Leafs cap for the next four years.

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Mirtle: Nylander a smart bet by the Leafs

JAMES MIRTLE

It’s not always the case that a general manager is positively beaming after the draft.

A lot can go wrong. It’s a long and draining night and your player can get taken or a trade can fall through. You can have designs on moving up or down and it can come apart at the seams when other teams get involved.

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Mirtle: Next two weeks full of possibility, peril for Maple Leafs

James Mirtle

It’s the time of year when general managers can make their biggest impact, changing their roster dramatically in the span of a couple of weeks.

Sometimes for the better, as Jim Nill did in Dallas a year ago to help the Stars back into the playoffs in a difficult Western Conference. And sometimes not.

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Mirtle: Why hockey’s new statistics aren't going anywhere

JAMES MIRTLE

Back in the fall, the Toronto Maple Leafs were considered the latest, greatest test case for analytics in hockey.

They had won games in odd ways in the lockout-shortened half season, with high shooting percentages and low possession numbers, two of the most telltale signs that they would struggle to maintain a 97-point pace over an 82-game campaign.

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Leafs first rounder Frederik Gauthier signs with Marlies

JAMES MIRTLE

The Toronto Maple Leafs season may be over, but their work developing their top prospects continues.

And that includes 2013 first-rounder Frederik Gauthier, who will get his first taste of pro hockey this week in the American Hockey League playoffs.

With his season in the Quebec junior league with Rimouski over, Gauthier signed what’s known as an amateur tryout contract on Monday morning with the Toronto Marlies, who open their postseason schedule in Milwaukee on Friday.

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Mirtle: Randy Carlyle left twisting in the wind by Maple Leafs

JAMES MIRTLE

There he was – again – as he’s often fond of saying, standing at a podium in the Air Canada Centre and deconstructing a collapse that has become hockey’s most beaten dead horse in the aftermath.

Yes, Randy Carlyle is still head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs, but even he has little idea how long that will last.

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Shanahan must set a new course for Leafs

JAMES MIRTLE

As far as analogies go, Tim Leiweke’s wasn’t half bad on Monday.

Moments after introducing Brendan Shanahan as the new head of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the MLSE president was likening the three very different challenges in front of him to three very different ships.

With the Leafs obviously being the most challenging to get a handle on.

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Leiweke: Maple Leafs need a culture change

JAMES MIRTLE

He didn’t mince words. He didn’t offer non-answers or excuses.

So credit Tim Leiweke for this much: While he may not have picked up on the problem early on this year, he now realizes the Toronto Maple Leafs aren’t good enough and believes it needs to be said again and again until that’s fixed.

The MLSE president also added that while he feels the organization has made great strides with its other teams – the Toronto Raptors and Toronto FC – they have a long, long way to go with the Leafs.

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Mirtle: Maple Leafs get their end-of-season report cards

JAMES MIRTLE

The calls will be there to fail the lot of them.

After a 3-13-0 finish to the season that led to the Toronto Maple Leafs sinking from ninth in the league to 23rd in the span of a month, that’s understandable, even if not everyone involved had an equal hand in the collapse.

The reality was the Leafs actually received some strong performances this season, with the top line producing at an elite level most of the year and Jonathan Bernier emerging as a very good goaltender in his first season as a starter.

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Shanahan will have his hands full during Leafs’ off-season

DAVID SHOALTS

The latest new era for the eternally struggling Toronto Maple Leafs begins Monday when Brendan Shanahan meets the media for the first time since taking the job as president.

Beside him will be Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke and Leafs general manager David Nonis. While Nonis has taken his share of shots for the late-season collapse, all indications are that he will survive to sift through the smoking ruins.

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Leafs exit season on whimper with shutout loss to Senators

DAVID SHOALTS

The best thing that can be said for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ last gasp of their awful 2013-14 season is that it preserved their spot in the top 10 of this year’s NHL entry draft.

By losing 1-0 to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night with their usual desultory effort, the Leafs held a ticket for the eighth pick overall but that will not be certain until the season officially ends with Sunday’s games. The loss also guaranteed a 12th-place finish in the Eastern Conference, as the Senators moved two points ahead to 86 with the win while the Leafs finished their season with 84 points at 38-36-8.

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Mirtle: Phil Kessel takes ownership of Maple Leafs collapse

James Mirtle

He spoke little all season, as one of the NHL’s true silent stars.

But in the end, Phil Kessel said quite a bit.

With most of the Tampa Bay Times Forum cleared out and his teammates waiting on the bus to head to the airport, the Toronto Maple Leafs leading scorer invited a few straggling reporters to walk beside him as he left the deserted arena.

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Blog contributors

James Mirtle

Hockey writer

Follow James on Twitter @mirtle

David Shoalts

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun.

Follow David on Twitter @dshoalts