With Tomas Kaberle and Francois Beauchemin now wearing different uniforms, the Leafs have freed up a total of $8.05m from what was a tremendously well-compensated defense corps. However, they have also created two rather large holes to fill in the process.
While Keith Aulie has done a good job thus far filling Beauchemin's skates, the question remains: who steps in for Tomas Kaberle? If Carl Gunnarsson is not the man for the job - and early returns indicate he may not be - another puck-mover will be essential if the Leafs are to maintain their slim playoff hopes. The question is, who should the Leafs look to target? And how much should the team be willing to give up?
In the aftermath of yesterday's trade with the Anaheim Ducks, in which Joffrey Lupul joined the Toronto Maple Leafs, many fans expressed concern over two years' contract term at a somewhat high dollar figure for what was perceived to be declining production.
Although it is very easy to get caught up in the base stat lines (goals, assists, points), what might be surprising to some is Lupul's rate of production has actually remained fairly consistent during the past three seasons prior to 2010-11. Despite last season and the start of his current season being cut short due to back surgery and a subsequent blood infection, a quick look at his per-game statistics reveal few recent changes in the winger's season-to-season productivity.
The frustration was evident in Phil Kessel's tone as he answered a stream of media questions regarding his latest goal-scoring slump, now at ten games. Or perhaps, more accurately, his tone was one of resignation.
Sighing often, Kessel repeated the words "I don't know" on multiple occasions in response to inquiries as to why he has been so snake-bitten, and what he feels can be done to re-discover his scoring touch. This was clearly a player at his wit's end, a player who seemed to be completely out of answers as to why the puck won't go in despite numerous scoring chances of late.
It was almost enough to make one feel sympathetic toward his plight; to make one feel as though he was carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, a victim of perpetual misfortune who was giving his all and unjustly coming up short.
In a move that has been anticipated for some time now, Maple Leafs' goaltender Jonas Gustavsson has been loaned to the Toronto Marlies on a two-week conditioning stint.
The move creates an immediateÂ two-fold benefit for the Leafs: (1) a chance for Gustavsson to re-discover his early-season form, and (2) an extended opportunity for James Reimer to continue his stellar play at the NHL level.
Per mapleleafs.nhl.com, the Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that forward Mike Brown has agreed to a three-year contract extension.
Brown, who was set to become a RFA on July 1st, has averaged 10:03 TOI per game on primarily fourth-line and penalty-killing duty.
Despite seeing limited action, he has had a positive impact on the club with his inspired, energetic play.
The 12th-place Toronto Maple Leafs return from the All-Star break with a home date against the 11th-place Florida Panthers. With six points standing between themselves and the Panthers, the Leafs will have to treat this one as a must-win if they are to have any hope of making up ground in the playoff race.
In their previous two meetings, the Leafs took a 3-1 victory on home ice, while the Panthers countered with a 4-1 victory on their home ice a month later.
There is little doubt among observers that the Leafs will attempt to make some moves at the trade deadline a month from now, and with the team's leadership meeting in Florida to plot strategy, many feel there could be a shakeup coming prior to the annual auction at the end of February.
The question is, what sort of a shakeup will GM Brian Burke be able to pull off? With the team in a rut, and several core players not playing up to expectation, can the Leafs be realistically expected to put together a major deal which could turn the franchise around?
In their final game before the All-Star Break, the Toronto Maple Leafs (19-24-5) head to Tampa Bay to take on Steven Stamkos and the red-hot Lightning (30-15-5), who will be looking for their fifth straight victory.
Tampa Bay won both of the teams' previous meetings this season: a 4-0 home shutout on November 9th, and a 4-3 victory in Toronto on November 30th.
Against the likes of Stamkos, Lecavalier, and St. Louis, it will be imperative for the Leafs to establish a strong defensive effort early if they are to have any hope of putting an end to both the Lightning's win streak, and their own current two-game slide.
"The Maple Leaf: A giant walking and talking maple tree. An immovable object [more…]
James Reimer has been recalled by the Toronto Maple Leafs, and is expected to get the start in one of either Monday or Tuesday's back-to-back games (versus Carolina and Tampa Bay, respectively) as the team heads into the All-Star break.
Reimer currently sports a 4-2-0 record with a 2.26 GAA and .933 SV% in 7 appearances with the NHL club.
As if online reports that defender Mike Komisarek is being investigated for assault by Los Angeles police in relation to an incident during the team's west coast road trip weren't bad enough, several Leafs' players -- including the team captain -- reportedly skipped an optional skate which was open to the public, at a time when the team needs all the goodwill it can get.
Today in Leafs' news:
- In a move that should surprise no one, goaltender James Reimer was returned to the Toronto Marlies as Jean-Sebastien Giguere has been deemed ready to return to action;
- Mike Brown has been suspended 3 games for his hit on Ed Jovanovski during last night's heated tilt in Phoenix; and,
- Off-season FA signing Marcel Mueller has been recalled to fill Brown's roster spot.