Yesterday afternoon, Pierre LeBrun did the world a great service by going on the radio and mentioning that the Leafs have talked with the Buffalo Sabres about acquiring Rasmus Ristoalainen. While he said a deal is unlikely to happen at the deadline, he said he thinks the teams could revisit the conversation over the summer.
This is such a wonderful rumor that it seems too good to be true. Could the Leafs, who already traded for Cody Ceci, really go trade for Rasmus Ristolainen? Do we dare hope that we might see two players who have been the center of so many internet arguments playing together in Toronto? Honestly, probably not. But for one moment, a brief fleeting time on this Thursday morning five days before the trade deadline, let us imagine.
The Leafs, helmed by General Manager Kyle Dubas, the first analytics heavy GM in a major market, have already spent most of a season icing Cody Ceci every night. Cody Ceci, who by most public statistical work was one of the worst defenders in the league during his time in Ottawa. Yes, the trade for Ceci got the leafs out of a bad long term contract for Nikita Zaitsev. But that’s not what’s important here. What’s important is Cody Ceci.
And now, imagine, a year later, that same GM goes out and intentionally acquires Rasmus Ristolainen. Another defender who has put up some truly awful numbers in Buffalo. In this shangri-la, the Leafs OF COURSE re-sign Ceci AND somehow keep Tyson Barrie. Don’t ask me how, they just do.
So every night next season, we get to watch all of Leafdom melt into a puddle of blue rage over whatever nonsense their blue line decides to pull. With Barrie and Risto on the top power play unit, the forwards go a month without taking shot at 5v4. Ceci has everyone begging for Martin Marincin who is still under contract for some reason. Steve Simmons becomes the voice of a nation for his column in which he declares that he will not eat maple syrup again until Dubas is fired. His syrup strike becomes international news winning him a Pulitzer Prize.
This is the future we deserve. And when it doesn’t arrive, that will be just another sign that our universe is an unjust meandering chaos nightmare.
So uh, I guess I’ll just put some normal news stuff here after whatever that was. The Vegas Golden Knights, who the Lightning play tonight, traded two second round picks to land defender Alec Martinez from the Kings. Martinez has long been rumored to be traded going all the way back to last year’s deadline but he’s finally on the move.
A couple weeks ago, it looked almost certain that the Winnipeg Jets and Dustin Byfuglien would agree to terminate his contract so he could become a free agent. But yesterday, Frank Seravalli reported that the Jets are re-engaged in trade talks as the deadline approaches. It seems unlikely anyone would pay much to acquire Byfuglien given his uncertain injury status but maybe if the Jets retain the full 50% of his salary, they could find a team willing to take the risk. Byfuglien was still an effective player last season so the only question would be whether he’s still interested in getting back into NHL shape and where he is in his injury rehab process.
ESPN ran a very cool piece yesterday where Chris Peters used tracking data provided by Core Sznaijder to re-tell the story of the Miracle on Ice using modern statistics. This is a fun idea and a good way to look at historic games from a new angle and possibly introduce them to a new generation of fans.
So on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the game, we took a closer look. Using modern game-tracking and evaluation metrics, we crunched the numbers behind the Americans’ daunting matchup and how they somehow managed to come out on top. In short, we went all modern on the Miracle on Ice. Here’s what we found in our comprehensive breakdown of the 4-3 victory, from the lopsided puck possession to some incredible goaltending to coach Herb Brooks’ bold strategy.