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Maple Leafs Forward Grades: Getting better during second 10-game segment




Through the first 10 games of the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs had disappointing results. The underlying numbers told a story that it was likely going to get better.

In the next 10 game span, the underlying numbers been okay, and the Maple Leafs started winning, but they have also run into problems scoring during 5-on-5 play. In the past 10 games, the Maple Leafs have controlled 51.2% of shot attempts and 55.6% of expected goals during 5-on-5 play. The numbers that one might anticipate from an above-average team.

In those 10 games, the Maple Leafs are 8-2, with their only losses coming against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Los Angeles Kings.

5-on-5 Woes

However, the Maple Leafs have scored 1.56 goals per 60 minutes during 5-on-5 play, which ranks 32nd in the NHL in that time. Dead last.

The Maple Leafs rank 12th in shot attempts/60 (58.2), sixth in expected goals/60 (2.64), and second in scoring chances/60 (34.4). Those underlying numbers show a team that is generating opportunities during 5-on-5 play.

The problem is that the Leafs have scored on just 4.9% of their shots during 5-on-5 play in the past 10 games. That ranks 31st in the league.

So, similar to the first 10-game segment, when the Maple Leafs had strong underlying numbers, but they were losing games, right now the Maple Leafs have strong underlying offensive numbers that are bound to get better because they are capable of scoring on a much higher rate of shots.

In the previous three seasons, for example, the Maple Leafs scored on 9.2% of their 5-on-5 shots, a rate that ranked third in the league, behind only Washington and Tampa Bay.

Part of the reason that the Maple Leafs have been able to offset their 5-on-5 scoring woes is that the power play has been clicking. In the past 10 games, the Leafs have scored 10.5 goals/60 during 5-on-4 play. That ranks sixth in that time frame. Their penalty killing has allowed 1.64 goals/60 during 4-on-5 play. That ranks second.

Here is a look at the Toronto Maple Leafs forward grades for the second 10-game segment of the season.


RW William Nylander (3 G, 5 A, 30 SOG, 52.6 CF%, 57.7 xGF%, 10 GP)

Not quite as dominant as he was early on, when he was the driving force of Toronto’s offence, Nylander is still delivering quality results. At the same time, there have been a few games in the past 10 in which he has, in relative terms, vanished.

Grade: A-

Previous Grade: A

C Auston Matthews (4 G, 7 A, 43 SOG, 57.2 CF%, 64.3 xGF%, 10 GP)

The wild thing about Matthews so far this season is that he has not really put up dominant numbers, except when it comes to the quality of chances that he is getting. When the pucks start to go in, the floodgates could burst.

Grade: A-

Grade: C

RW Mitch Marner (4 G, 7 A, 25 SOG, 51.7 CF%, 55.4 xGF%, 10 GP)

When Marner is not scoring, it is a major problem for the Maple Leafs, no matter how much Sheldon Keefe tries to praise his other contributions. But when Marner is confident and playing well, he is a difference maker for the Maple Leafs and they need that level of play more consistently.

Grade: A-

Previous Grade: C

RW Ondrej Kase (4 G, 1 A, 30 SOG, 47.1 CF%, 52.3 xGF%, 10 GP)

Starting to get rewarded offensively for all of his hard work, Kase had four 5-on-5 goals in the past 10 games to lead the team. He has added penalty killing to his repertoire and his energy is a major asset most nights.

Grade: B+

Previous Grade: C+

LW Michael Bunting (1 G, 2 A, 14 SOG, 52.3 CF%, 60.9 xGF%, 10 GP)

Bunting had a fantastic start to the season but faded a bit and then lost his spot on the top line for a while. He returned there for the most recent game and he should still have value in a scoring role, at least from time to time.

Grade: B

Previous Grade: A

C John Tavares (5 G, 3 A, 30 SOG, 49.6 CF%, 47.3 xGF%, 9 GP)

While Tavares started finding the net a little bit more, his all-around game has not been great. It is a relatively small sample but being on the wrong end of shot attempts and expected goals (to say nothing of getting outscored 7-3 during 5-on-5 play) is at least worth a cautionary note.

Grade: B

Previous Grade: B

C David Kampf (2 G, 3 A, 14 SOG, 47.0 CF%, 53.9 xGF%, 10 GP)

I am suspect of Kampf as a third-line centre because of his lack of offensive production but when he does chip in offensively, it starts to look a whole lot better because he and Kase take on tough assignments, including a lot of defensive zone starts.

Grade: B

Previous Grade: C+

C/LW Alexander Kerfoot (0 G, 6 A, 16 SOG, 50.2 CF%, 47.4 xGF%, 10 GP)

A Swiss Army Knife of a player, Kerfoot moves up and down the lineup, from centre to wing, as needed. His production is less than ideal for a top-six forward and his possession numbers have faded from a strong start

Grade: B-

Previous Grade: C+

C Jason Spezza (0 G, 1 A, 16 SOG, 49.7 CF%, 53.3 xGF%, 10 GP)

The veteran centre is still creating chances but one point in 10 games is a little light on production from a player whose 5-on-5 scoring rate had been a real strength. No complaints about what he is offering for the price, merely recognizing that he has performed better.

Grade: C+

Previous Grade: B+

LW Pierre Engvall (0 G, 1 A, 22 SOG, 52.8 CF%, 59.1 xGF%, 10 GP)

Engvall has not scored since the first game of the season, which is a shame because he plays such a reliable two-way game. If he is going to stay in the top nine, there has to be more production.

Grade: C+

Previous Grade: B-

LW Nick Ritchie (0 G, 2 A, 19 SOG, 56.8 CF%, 60.4 xGF%, 10 GP)

The Maple Leafs are hoping that Ritchie can be a power forward who handles minutes with top players, and he has been getting those opportunities, but he is also 20 games into the season without a goal. There has been improvement in Ritchie’s contributions in the second set of 10 games but, still, more tangible production is required given his opportunities.

Grade: C+

Previous Grade: C

RW Wayne Simmonds (0 G, 1 A, 15 SOG, 47.5 CF%, 53.0 xGF%, 9 GP)

Although Simmonds does generate some quality chances, he has to find a way to capitalize on those chances if he and Spezza are going to make the most of their time. I have identified them several times this year for strong games, and creating opportunities but Simmonds has one goal in 19 games and, even for a fourth liner, it gets easier to healthy scratch a player who is not producing.

Grade: C

Previous Grade: B-

C/LW Kirill Semyonov (0 G, 0 A, 1 SOG, 35.3 CF%, 53.1 xGF%, 2 GP)

Called up from the Marlies to give the Maple Leafs a little forward depth, Semyonov has played less than 20 minutes in his two games. He showed some promise in his willingness to get involved and try to make plays, even in a limited role.

Grade: Incomplete

Stats via Natural Stat Trick.

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