A few notes on the Leafs recent demotions, Wednesdayâ€™s roster tidbits and a quick review of Monday nightâ€™s affair with the Blues.
- The Maple Leafs have shrunk their roster slightly by demoting Bates Battaglia, Kris Newbury, Ben Ondrus and others to their AHL affiliate.
- Curtis Joseph is said to get the nod for Wednesday nightâ€™s affair with the Blues. The preseason rematch will be aired on Leafs TV at 8:30PM EST. Jason Blake is expected to return to action pending any further aggravation in his knee.
- TSN.ca is reporting the Leafs had made a pitch that would send a conditional first round pick (protected against a top 6 selection in 09 draft) and two prospects for defenseman Mathieu Schneider and 21 year old forward Bobby Ryan. The Leafs were then believed to have had a plan in place to actively shop the veteran blue liner for a draft pick thereafter.
- Ian White has proven that he is a dangerous player – dangerous to his own teammates. During the overtime frame of Mondayâ€™s game against the Blues, Ian White had carried the puck down into the corner where teammate Niklas Hagman had been patiently waiting for a pass. White had been tailed by T.J. Oshie of the Blues and became fearful of going behind the net as a hit would likely ensue. White coughed the puck up to Hagman to relieve himself of his follower and Hagman received a suicide pass that lead to an immediate hard high collision from Oshie. Hagman left the ice in considerable pain and showed his anger and frustration by slamming the door to the bench. He then began to curse in frustration over Whiteâ€™s cowardice decision while tending to his own jaw. White, who has been on the hunt for a final position on defense, may find his days as in the pro league to be numbered after a junior play.
- Luke Schenn showed signs of his future superstardom as he deked out Manny Legace to win the shootout Monday night. Leafs fans rejoiced over the accomplishment as it seems there is finally a star lingering in the depths of Torontoâ€™s system. Luke Schenn may be ready to play now, but the organization will likely return him to the WHL In order to play roughly 30 minutes a night and gain more success at the World Juniors this season.
- John Mitchell is looking to be more and more a diamond in the rough. He has provided a consistent preseason for the Leafs and has surprised many on his skating abilities and his two-way gritty style of play. Ron Wilson was quoted saying Mitchell has â€œcertainly made an impact on our coaching staffâ€. Mitchell is contending for the third line center position.
- Nikolai Kulemin has shown signs of pure offensive talent, but they have only come in spurts. His transition to the smaller ice surface has yet to be manageable for the young sniper, but a month or two in the AHL could provide enough time for the Russian to get his game going in North America.
- With Anton Stralman and Carlo Colaiacovo providing a strong preseason effort, it seems the Maple Leafs defensive end could be much better than many people had expected. Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle will more than likely be their top 2 defensemen, and with Frogren, Stralman and Colaiacovo proving their worth, the last position is a tossup between Jeff Finger and Mike Van Ryn. It would be unlikely the Leafs will carry both for the season as they each deserve full time minutes. Luke Schenn, unless he is left alone to continue to grow in the WHL, would be the most popular choice as the immediate call up replacement. With Jeff Fingerâ€™s salary, it would be a difficult task for the Leafs to move his contract, but Mike Van Ryn would be a desirable asset to a team looking for a powerplay quarterback at a low dollar figure.
- Former Maple Leaf forward Jeff Oâ€™Neill has officially retired from the NHL after a recent attempt for a comeback with the Carolina Hurricanes. After 3 preseason games, the â€˜Canes hoped to demote Jeff for a few games in the AHL, and the veteran decided to call it quits. The 32 year old Richmond Hill native finished his career with 496 points in 821 games with Hartford/Carolina and the Toronto Maple Leafs.
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