Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs‘ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.
The Daily Herald is reporting that the Chicacgo Blackhawks have indeed been talking to the Toronto Maple Leafs about two-way sniper Patrick Sharp, but it is unclear how far along those trade talks have progressed. On that note, the timing of Dave Tallon’s removal from the GM position certainly was odd, wasn’t it? Just a few months after the organization revitalized its fanbase, reached the Conference Finals, on the backs of an excellent young core. Anyways, the new management group is now rumored to be aggressively shopping the likes of Patrick Sharp ($4M), Dustin Byfuglien ($3M), Kris Versteeg ($3M), and Cam Barker ($3M) in an effort to resolve its salary cap crunch. The Sharp to Toronto scenario is something we touched on briefly last week.
In that Patrick Sharp trade discussion, I also dropped Mikhail Stefanovich’s name as one of the young players who might draw interest from the Blackhawks. I wanted to bring that up because it seems I’ve finally been able to resolve the copyright issues with the whole Youtube/Walter Music Group issue, so here is a nice little highlight compilation of Mikhail’s skillset for your enjoyment. He really is one of those players who has the ability to bring you out of your seat.
ESPN’s got their early playoff predictions out for the upcoming 2009-2010 season, and the Leafs are sitting pretty in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. There was some considerable praise for GM Brian Burke’s quick remodelling done thus far this offseason:
Brian Burke isn’t very good at camouflage, and he’s taking the same approach he did at Anaheim: He’s trying to assemble a complement of toughness and skill, as often as possible in one package. (Sometimes you wonder if he rolls up his sleeves and puts on the foil before making phone calls.) But he’s making progress in trying to make something of this mess, even winning the recruiting war for Jonas Gustavsson, who if things turn out well will only be needed to be a Monster backup to Vesa Toskala in his first season in North America. The additions of Mike Komisarek and former Duck Francois Beauchemin will help considerably on the blue line, and the feeling here is that the Leafs will be back in the playoffs.
The funny twist is the trio of teams they’ve got sitting just under the Leafs in 9th, 10th and 11th place. You guessed it: The Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators.
Lastly, if you’re like me, you may have a tough time getting out to Leaf games during the regular season, because frankly, I’d rather not sell a kidney to be able to afford a pair of Saturday night tickets against the Habs. As such, be sure to check out the website for the Maple Leafs second annual Coca Cola Fans First preseason game against the Boston Bruins on September 16th at the Air Canada Centre. There are a bunch of ways to win free tickets all over downtown Toronto or via their code hunting game online. Best of luck to everybody!
Always a pleasure,