Buying or Selling Toronto Maple Leafs Players' Hot Starts in 2013-14
The team's play has been criticized by many, with head coach Randy Carlyle being one of their staunchest critics as their defensive play has not been good.
The Leafs have to clamp down defensively if they hope to continue their winning ways moving forward.
Several individual players have had hot starts to the season, and we will buy or sell these starts.
Honorable mentions go to James van Riemsdyk and Nazem Kadri.
Standard stats can be found on NHL.com.
Advanced stats are from Behind the Net.
Hot Start: Buying
Phil Kessel has had a great start to the 2013-14 season. He has signed an $8 million per year contract extension and has not missed a beat in the first two weeks of the season.
The Leafs' top winger has eight points in his first seven games and is tied for 10th in NHL scoring. Kessel has also been a plus player so far as his defensive play has improved over the past few seasons.
Kessel's relative Corsi number is -5.7, but that should improve based on Kessel's strong Corsi numbers in almost every year since 2007.
The Leafs have not played sound defensive hockey, but Kessel has had some dominating shifts. Expect more of the same as the season wears on.
Buy this hot start from the Leafs' best offensive threat.
Hot Start: Buying
Joffrey Lupul has started the season at better than a point-per-game pace with eight points in his first seven games. This has included five goals, which ties him for the team lead with fellow winger James van Riemsdyk.
The Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, product has found a home in Toronto and has produced big offensive numbers since joining the club in 2010-11. He has also posted an excellent relative Corsi number of 11.6, albeit in just seven games.
Lupul has developed into a mature hockey player as he enters his 30s. If he stays healthy, there is no reason that Lupul can't keep up his current offensive pace. Lupul's hot start is a buy.
Hot Start: Buying With Caution
Jonathan Bernier's first two weeks of play have been outstanding. Bernier has had a .946 save percentage, and his goals against average is at 1.75. He has also posted a shutout.
While Bernier is developing into an exceptional goaltender, he is going to have to prove this over the long haul. His game against Edmonton, in which he allowed five goals, was not good.
Expect Bernier to post very good numbers this season, but he will not be able to sustain these amazing numbers, particularly his exceptional save percentage.
The Leafs are giving up too many quality chances, and the odds simply don't support these gaudy numbers. Buy this start, but with some caution.
Hot Start: Selling
Cody Franson has had a strong offensive start to the season. The 6'5" defenseman has six points in his first seven games.
Franson does not play the tough minutes that captain Dion Phaneuf does, and that is an important next step for the young blueliner. Franson's hot offensive start should be tempered by noting his relative Corsi number is at -7.4.
The pride of Salmon Arm, British Columbia, is not going to produce roughly 70 points, which this current pace translates to.
The Leafs will continue to score goals at a high rate, but expect Franson's early pace to slow down. This is a hot start to sell.
Hot Start: Selling
Mason Raymond is one of the better depth players in the NHL. He is an excellent skater and is able to excel in all game situations when needed.
In seven games, he has tallied four goals and four assists.
With Nikolai Kulemin out with an injury and David Clarkson serving his 10-game suspension, Raymond has received some quality minutes in their absence. This extra ice time, coupled with the fact that Raymond has never scored more than 53 points in a season, makes this hot start an easy sell.
Leafs Nation can expect Mason Raymond to be an important contributor this year, but it will be in other ways than on the scoresheet.
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