Hockey is officially back!
Well, sort of.
Today kicks off the Leafs annual rookie tournament, which is really a great opportunity for the kids in the organization to make an impression.
It was only two years ago that Jake Gardiner and Matt Frattin both carried the momentum of strong rookie tournaments through training camp and preseason as both at least somewhat unexpectedly made the team to start the season. This September, players such as Petter Granberg, Andrew MacWilliam and even Morgan Rielly will be trying to do the same.
On the whole, the Leafs are dressing a rather experienced team so to speak. There are 11 players that have played at least one game with the Marlies on the team (Morgan Rielly, Stuart Percy, Greg McKegg, Brad Ross, Josh Leivo, Andrew Crescenzi, Broll, Tyler Biggs, Jamie Devane, Sam Carrick and Garret Sparks) plus another two who can be considered older and ‘experienced’ at this point (Granberg and MacWilliam).
This is also an opportunity for the 2013 draft class to show us their stuff, particularly Frederik Gauthier, and send a message to Leafs management that they are hungry to move up in the organization.
When it comes to these tournaments, the truth is that these players have never played together and are playing in their first real hockey games in months. It gets sloppy. While it’s always nice to see the team win, and hopefully they do, what you really want to do is gauge individual performances more than anything.
How, for example, does Morgan Rielly look quarterbacking the power play? How is Granberg holding up defensively? Is MacWilliam a physical force? And so on. Watching this tournament involves walking a fine line between taking everything with a grain of salt while also looking for kids to show you something.
What I try to do is compare Leaf prospects to players of their own age group. For example, the Leafs play Chicago today and they have two kids drafted in the first round from 2011 (Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault). I’ll be looking to see how the Leafs’ two first rounders from the same draft compare (Stuart Percy and Tyler Biggs; I’d also include Leivo in this conversation). Generally speaking I expect the older players to be the best guys out there, and if they aren’t that’s a bit of a concern. What it comes down to is judging players against others their own age group. A guy like Gauthier shouldn’t have the same expectations as a guy like Granberg.
Expect some mistakes, but also look for the older and higher pedigree players to make some statements. If they are going to push to make the Leafs this season, this is when they have to start doing it.
More than anything, though, I’m just glad hockey’s back.
Stay tuned to MLHS throughout the weekend for rookie tourney coverage.
Thanks to Aaron Chan (@MLHS_Aaron) for putting together the links this morning.
Brian Burke discussing deal to join Flames front office (“overseer of hockey operations”) – That Burkie sure relishes a challenge. No hockey fan should dislike Burke being back in the mix.
Toronto Sun: Phaneuf not worried about contract talks – “I want to be a part of the Leafs for a long time and I love playing in the city, but the business side will take care of itself.” From the sounds of it, Dion is open to negotiating with management during the season. Kessel seems to be taking the opposite approach (wants to eliminate in-season distractions and simply focus on ‘hackey).
Toronto Star: Five stories to watch heading into camp – Mark Zwolinski highlights the five most intriguing story-lines heading into training camp.
Editor in Leaf: Are Leafs in contract years likely to have career years? – A neat article on young players entering contract years and how they’ve performed. The author admits that the resulting sample from his search is not large enough to make any sort of conclusion but the Leafs have several young players who will fall under this observation.
VLM: Where do you lean on Kadri meter? – Michael Langlois from VLM asks where you stand on the Kadri negotiations.
Nazem Kadri’s contract negotiation is tearing apart the universe – Definitely seems to be a team source leaking this stuff on Kadri. See Nonis’ “ask them” remark when discussing contracts the other day on TSN Radio. It’s clear the Leafs are really strongarming these guys. Not uncommon in RFA negotiations.
Top 25 under 25: #5 – Jonathan Bernier – clrkaitken rails against the Bernier deal.
I believe that Nonis had prior knowledge of Burke and the Calgary job. This explains why he didin't get rid of Liles and knew that cap room wasn't important (to sign Franson, Kadri, etc.). I really think that Phaneuf will be dealt to Calgary before the season starts. It all just makes so much sense.
@Tonystarks90292 It would make sense if A) Toronto had any other D capable of being a #1, which they don't - and B) Calgary had anything worth trading for. So, long story short, clueless.
@Knights2Leafs Hey! You remembered the 's.'
Jks aside, that's awesome. You're the man k2l.
@Knights2Leafs yup going
@Knights2Leafs you in the deluxe seats tonight?
No - that's just for the September 15th game against the Flyers. I have to pick up my ticket but it's section 115 around row J - right at the one blue line.
I asked this earlier but I don't think I got a response. Can someone please post the link or source about Nonis and TML leaking information about contracts? Several comments have referred to this but I don't remember reading it.
@Spayde_D You won't because its pure speculation.
@Burtonboy @Spayde_D Yeah I know just being facetious. Unbelievable to me that people are so dumbfounded by contract negotiations. Sometimes they get done quick, sometimes they take a while. Lets shit ourselves and throw the excess feces at Nonis when a game or practice is missed. "Kadri is greedy, Nonis low-balled him, Colton Orr doesn't pay his taxes." We know as much as the "insiders," which is jackshit. Before you nail one of the guys to the cross, why not let patience prevail and the truth reveal itself.
@Spayde_D @Burtonboy It will in good time . Once we see the results of this then its time to throw rocks at someone if they did something wrong. I know that won't happen and people will be people so I just try to ignore as best I can . My biggest issue is this out and out character assassination of Kadri and Nonis without evidence to back it up.
I still have nothing but love for Burke, our team, prospects and image were almost rock bottom when he took over. Calgary fans should be excited, maybe we trade Phaneuf back there? lol
@mlclearwater And then the team would be awful again. :-(
@Murph2417 pray somebody posts a link on here, thats what im doing :/
From those of you in Ontario having trouble finding the rookie game on tv this should help.
@rustynail Did you thank him for Bolland too?
@rustynail "Oh, I thought you asked about JM Liles"
Judging from Cox's comments that his teammates have been noodling him on this contract demands, I think Kadri's main problem is he's too impatient. He wants everything now, now, now instead of earning it. He wants the world now. He'll likely get it ... in time. Like Nonis said, he's going to be a wealthy man.
@Marlies Man I don't read too much into Cox's "insider information." He has been so ridiculously critical of the Leafs over the past years that I highly doubt he has any respect within the locker room. Him getting a scoop about what the players are saying to each other behind doors is akin to Stajan giving HH an autograph.
@Marlies Man Of course, he's a cocky 22 year old. He thinks he's the best and he's used to getting his way... His agent needs to smack him upside the head and tell him the reality is he hasn't proved himself and he's signing a bridge whether he likes it or not. The purple Lamborghini can wait for next contract.
@Dan39 You have no clue what he's asking for and who is being unreasonable in this. Why cast aspersions on the kid?
Well we don't know. But don't you find it curious the leafs seem intent on leaking info about Kadri but not a word has been said about Franson?
@Jay_Berg There's a lot of bullshit flying around. Negotiations are ugly. We'll see what becomes of it. I'm not going to shit on Naz.
I agree. But Naz just needs to shut up. Right or wrong you have to recognize that in this market you can't draw that much attention to yourself about this type of stuff cause it'll backfire
if anyone is gonna send an offer sheet our way for Kadri it will be the Flames Burke will see to that.............Flames got the cap space to do it to us and Burke wants pay back for Leafs firing him............Look out offer sheet heading our way..........Better get Franson and Kadri signed A.S.A.P.
@DJGLENN22 Don't see it happening. Maybe pressuring Nonis to make a trade, but not a straight up os
@DJGLENN22 They would be stupid to do that since they'd have to give up their 1st. The Flames will have a top 5 pick in the draft with or without Kadri. If anything, I could see Burke wanting to take on Liles but talking Nonis into including Blacker/Holzer, the kind of trade he loved to do here.
@DJGLENN22 No way, to get Kadri signed to an offer sheet you'd have to offer up $5m plus and that means a 1st, 2nd and a 3rd at a minimum and those are going to be low picks with the first rounder being in the top 10 most likely if not top 5.
@DJGLENN22 Burke isn't stupid, so any offer sheet will be a reasonable contract so not to handcuff his cap space before he'seven started. He also has been very vocal over the past few years about teams forgoing the bridge deal and the detriment to the game. Keeping all this in mind, if he did send an offer sheet it would be in line with what we're looking at, and therefore a favor to us.
@DJGLENN22 Hell, a top 3 is worth more than Kadri on its own! Not saying th eLeafs would take that, because they need players for right now and the next five years but on the open market, that's the value.
@Jay_Berg The two firsts and a 2nd weren't supposed to be such good picks as they turned out. The Calgary picks are very obviously going to be great picks!
@DJGLENN22 Happy Birthday Glenn!
"a top 3 is worth more than Kadri on its own." Not too sure about the certainty in saying that.
2007 - JVR (2) and Turris (3)
2008 - Bogosian (3)
2009 - Hedman (2)
2010 - Seguin (2) and Gudbranson (3)
I'm not saying Kadri is better than these guys, just not as much of a slam dunk as you suggest. Seems at least a 33% chance Kadri will be a wash with a top 3 pick.