The first Hockey Night in Canada of the season. Feels good man.
Here’s the rundown of the storylines going into tonight’s matchup vs. the Sabres:
– Riding in on a hot streak of 2 goals and 4 points in his first two preseason appearances, Mason Raymond will play beside Tyler Bozak and Phil Kessel. Even though it won’t stick past this game, Raymond and Kessel’s skating abilities sharing the ice together should be fun to watch. Doug McLean’s report of an all-but-signed $925,000 one-year contract are apparently less than accurate according to the more reliable insiders, but the two sides are said to be talking. Darren Dreger has suggested Raymond could command “well over a million,” but I’ve developed a Dreger rule for projected salary whereby I reduce his predicted amount by at least 25%. If true, though, Raymond would probably be signing with a different team. It would be a clever move by Raymond to sign this PTO if he can parlay it into a better deal than he was being offered in the off season, after tearing up the preseason as the most motivated proven NHLer on the ice.
– Big night for the bubble boys. David Broll will play alongside Trevor Smith and Nikolai Kulemin. The Leafs are evaluating some cheap depth options here with Broll (590k) Trevor Smith (550k), Troy Bodie (600k) all in the lineup. All are options available for filling out a 22-man roster. Bodie will play alongside Joe Colborne and Carter Ashton while Smith will play with Jamie Devane and McClement.
– Colborne has looked a bit quicker, which is promising, but needs to make more of an impact. I don’t think he showed much in his opportunity beside Clarkson and JvR to start last game. Due to his cheap contract (600K) and waiver eligibility, Colborne has some leash here that he needs to take advantage of.
– The Leafs defence has five of the 6 regulars expected to be on the blueline come opening night on October (depends if you’re considering Fraser a lock or not). Whether the 6th defenceman is Franson, Liles, Rielly, MacWilliam or tonight’s incumbent – Stuart Percy – remains to be seen. Even if the group seems light on proven top 4 D, this type of depth in options is a pretty nice thing to have and suggests there is potential for internal improvement on the backend this season. Expected top pairing Dion Phaneuf and Carl Gunnarsson will play together while Paul Ranger will be playing beside Jake Gardiner on the second tandem. Mark Fraser will line up beside Percy.
– Percy will have a tough time cracking the opening night roster due to waiver status and the numbers game, but he seems to have climbed the depth chart this training camp and could have himself in line for an NHL stint at some point this season should injuries arise. I’ve been pretty encouraged by what I’ve seen from game one of the rookie tournament onwards from Percy; he’ll have a long career in this league thanks to his ability to consistently make the right play. He’s not flashy, but his smarts and ability to limit mistakes should allow his simple-but-effective game to take him where he needs to go.
– James Reimer is expected to play the full 60 minutes tonight. James Mirtle said on TSN 1050 this afternoon that he expects Jonathan Bernier to start on opening night; if the inference from the media as to the strong likelihood of Bernier starting game #1 matches the organization’s opinion at this stage of the proceedings, it’s more than a little ridiculous. I would hope that the organization is waiting to evaluate full game performances from these goalies while playing behind something closer to the real lineup before making the decision.
– Joffrey Lupul practiced at full contact on a line with Nazem Kadri and David Clarkson yesterday, but will sit this one out. In terms of discovering their timing while avoiding injury risk, the right number of warmup games for established pros like Lupul is probably 2 or 3 games anyway. There’s a lot of sense in being extra careful.
Maple Leafs Pre-Season LinesMaple Leafs Pre-Season Lines vs Buffalo Sabres
Move LIles and Guner and we have 9 mil in cap space. Replace them with Rielly and Percy and lock up Dion,Phil and Franson and still have cap to spare.
-Liles for Brodziak now, and Brodziak on waivers
-Gunnarsson for Stastny at the deadline.
-Excess Goalie + Bozak for Simmonds next summer:
J.V.R. - Stastny - Kessel
Lupul - Kadri - Clarkson
Kulemin - Bolland - Simmonds
Ashton - McClement - Orr
Rielly - Phaneuf
Gardiner - Franson
Percy - Ranger
Goalie - UFA
Anybody else find it weird that Liles has only been in one pre-season game? He should be trying to win his job back after a poor season. Being held out on purpose? If he's not in tomorrow, something's up.
Quite frankly, I think all the Reims vs Bernier shit is just that...shit. We have two young, talented Tenders...both of which I'm cheering for and as long as we're winning games, I don't give a rat's ass who draws in.....they are both Leafs, afterall. :)
soooo Raymond makes team, Ashton is looking good and wants a spot....Devane, what can I say about this kid lol
I hope Nonis sees the same picture. Big Franson as part of the Big Picture.
@Leafbites shouldn't he be watching game film and working on his hands at the MCC!? lol
@Wilbur Have a good night. I hope the Leafs have destroy them tomorrow.
@theacs1966 nice little tip to set up Devane's goal
@Belfour20 head down....reckless
@DeclanK Was Enroth mad?
Years ago my brother once scored a goal that way in an industrial league game. It was out of necessity, as he was using his left hand to hold off the defenseman, and used his right leg just like Ranger did in the clip. Awesome to see it in a shoot out.
@DeclanK that shot had potential.....harder then I can shoot it most times lol
@DeclanK A million likes! guy has a sense of humor....Welcome aboard Ranger!
@loomx he's a known.. not really needing a lot of preseason .... lack of play doesn't mean much.
@loomx more like hes a veteran in preseason and will get into more preseason games in the last week
@CanuckUKinToronto Very impressed with Raymond and agree that Percy is ready to play with the big boys.
Kulemin is one of the fastest players on this team. I agree in the respect that he looks slower than he actually is. But he is most definitely not average.
Completely agree on Percy. THought he played really well with Dion in the 3rd when Carlyle moved him there.
@Gilbey93 its preseason.. settle down. Number one will be a battle, as it should be.
@Dangle_My_Berries how do we find money for raymond though?
Now Bob, the Marlies aren't that strong down the middle. I don't think he has to go all the way to the E.