Sign in with your NHL account:
  • Submit
  • Or
  • Sign in with Google
MapleLeafs.com proudly sponsored by ROGERS™ Welcome to the Official Site of Leafs Nation - MapleLeafs.com
 

Breaking Down A Crowded Blueline

Saturday, 17.09.2011 / 2:40 PM / News
By Mike Ulmer  - Mapleleafs.com commentator
X
Share with your Friends


Breaking Down A Crowded Blueline
Let’s do the math.

The Leafs will dress six defencemen when they open their season, October 6 against Montreal.

At training camp, 10 players with NHL experience will compete for those six spots. In alphabetical order they are Keith Aulie, Jeff Finger, Cody Franson, Carl Gunnarsson, Korbinian Holzer, Mike Komisarek, Matt Lashoff, John-Michael Liles, Dion Phaneuf and Luke Schenn.

GAMES
Liles 523
Komisarek 470
Phaneuf 470
   
OLDEST
Finger 31
Liles 30
Komisarek 29
   
YOUNGEST
Schenn 21
Aulie 22
Holzer 23
   
GOALS
Phaneuf 85
Liles 68
Finger 17
   
POINTS
Liles 275
Phaneuf 183
Komisarek 72
   
BEST +/-
Franson +25
Gunnarsson +6
Finger +4
   
WORST +/-
Schenn -17
Liles -16
Lashoff -15
   
   
BEST GPG
Phaneuf 5.5
Liles 7.6
Franson 10
   
WORST GPG
Aulie 20
Komisarek 6.5
Lashoff 4.6
BEST PPG
Liles 2.5
Phaneuf 2.5
Franson 2.8
   
WORST PPG
Aulie 20
Komisarek 6.5
Lashoff 4.6
   
HIGHEST GAMES PER MINOR
Gunnarsson 9.2
Franson 6
Schenn/Finger 4.8
   
LOWEST GAMES PER MINOR
Aulie 2.5
Komisarek 1.5
Schenn 3
   
LEFT-HAND SHOTS
Aulie, Gunnarsson, Lashoff, Liles, Phaneuf
   
   
RIGHT-HAND SHOTS
Finger, Franson, Holzer, Komisarek, Schenn
   
   
HEAVIEST
Komisarek 243
Schenn 229
Aulie 217
   
   
LIGHTEST
Liles 185
Gunnarsson 199
Lashoff 204
   
Of course, neither God nor Ron Wilson operate in alphabetical order.

Terrific work in the second half of the season make Phaneuf and Aulie the team’s go-to pair.
That might only last 10 years or so.

Schenn is one of the game’s bright young defencemen and is going into his fourth year in the league. Liles is the new Tomas Kaberle, the man advantage set-up artist the power play craves.

The Leafs did not take on Matt Lombardi’s contract so they could introduce Franson to the press-box. That’s five.

That leaves Gunnarsson, a notoriously slow starter and Komisarek who has plenty of NHL experience but has had an uneven ride since signing with the Leafs.  Finger spent last season with the Marlies and Lashoff was a late callup so you could conclude those two are headed Ricoh-way but training camp could bring long-term shifts in the pecking order.

Holzer, a defence first and only guy, has played only two games for the Leafs but he has improved dramatically and is near ready.

Never mind 21-year-old Jake Gardiner and his big-league skating and power play skills or  that Jesse Blacker has steadily boosted his stock and might even do in a pinch.

Don’t forget the Leafs invested a first rounder this summer in Stuart Percy.

Right now, the blueline looks to be the biggest logjam. And the most volatile. Barring a trade, a training camp for the ages or a buyout, three players who played in the NHL last season seem destined to join Finger, Gardiner and Blacker to form one mighty defence corps for the Marlies.

“The exciting thing is we have a bunch of guys fighting for spots who are really young,” noted Schenn.

“Everyone has a great compete level right now. No one wants to be that guy who is in the last spot on the blueline.“

Gunnarsson staggered from the gate last season and was scratched 13 times. He ended up earning 20 plus minutes of ice time through the final quarter of the season. With the heightened level of competition, leaving the press box for top four minutes won’t be as easy.

“It’s like in the morning,“ Gunnarsson joked. “It took me a while to wake up. I have to change that and be ready from the start.”

In his third season, Gunnarsson knows what was forgiven in his first and second year won’t be overlooked in his third.

“Last year there was some good and some bad parts. If I can play as I want and as they want, we’ll see the kind of player I am.”

At six-foot-four, Franson skates well for a big man and and his overpowering shot will likely be exploited  from the point on the second power play unit.

Acquired from the Nashville Predators, Franson is accustomed to a defensive corps capped with premier talent.

“Playing with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter in Nashville, you learn a lot about how to prepare yourself and take pride in what you do. I take a lot of pride in what I do. I want to have a bigger role.  I am going to push the pace as well as I can.”
Fantom Sticker Album



torontomapleleafs.com is the official Web site of the Toronto Maple Leafs Hockey Club. The Maple Leafs and mapleleafs.com are trademarks of MLSE.  NHL, the NHL Shield, the word mark and image of the Stanley Cup and NHL Conference logos are registered trademarks of the National Hockey League. All NHL logos and marks and NHL team logos and marks as well as all other proprietary materials depicted herein are the property of the NHL and the respective NHL teams and may not be reproduced without the prior written consent of NHL Enterprises, L.P. Copyright © 1999-2013 MLSE and the National Hockey League. All Rights Reserved.


Terms Of Use | Contact Us | Employment Opportunities | Advertise on mapleleafs.com | Privacy Policy | AdChoices | NHL.com Terms of Use | Site Map