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Garrett Bauman

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    Sent by Charlie

    Best. Advertisement. Ever.

    Longtime MLHS reader/commenter Charlie welcomed a new addition to his family the other day, and sent in this photo of the new bundle of joy with what is sure to become his favorite book of bedtime stories.

    As per tradition the baby (a boy) has not yet been named, so feel free to offer Charlie some suggestions in the meantime. My contributions are as follows: “Wendel”, and “Clark”.

    Congratulations Charlie, to you and your family, from all of us here at MLHS.

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    One of the key questions surrounding the upcoming 2010-11 Maple Leafs season is whether they will be able to score enough to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

    An optimist will point to the Leafs’ record following the acquisitions of Dion Phaneuf and J.S. Giguere as evidence that the Maple Leafs can compete. The cynic will suggest that although the Leafs played well over the final third of the season following those moves, there just simply isn’t enough proven offensive production to buoy hopes for post-season play.

    A closer look at the Leafs performance over their past 26 games following the January 31st trades for Phaneuf and Giguere, in comparison to their first 56, might shed some light on whether or not the Leafs’ need for more offense in order to compete is fact or fiction.

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      On Sunday August 29, the Pavilion Ice Arena in Thornhill will host the Hockey 4 Life Tournament in support of Chai Lifeline Canada, a non-profit organization dedicated to easing the burden on families whose children are suffering from serious illness.  Last year’s tournament included former Leafs Mike Bullard, Mike Johnson, Gary Leeman, and Ric Nattress.

      If interested in participating in the tournament, you may register as an individual player, register an entire team, sponsor a player or team, or make a general donation to the event. Volunteers are also needed for the tournament.

      About the Charity:
      Chai Lifeline Canada offers “counseling for each member of the family, Big Brothers and Big Sisters who bring an extra measure of adult attention and stability to children’s lives, tutoring for children who must miss school for extended periods of time, family retreats, special sibling programs, information, peer and professional support, and two extraordinary summer camp programs for seriously ill children to help families retain a sense of normalcy and hope while fighting even the most dire pediatric diseases.”

      More Information:
      Tournament Details | Rules & Format | How To Register | Volunteer | Sponsor | Donate

      Hat tip to MLHS reader Charlie for forwarding the event info.

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      The topic on the tip of everyone’s tongue in Toronto has been the future of Maple Leafs’ defenseman Tomas Kaberle. Long-rumoured to be a candidate for trade — primarily due to the relative weakness of the roster surrounding him, post-lockout — most are convinced it will be his departure which resolves not only the logjam on the Leafs’ blueline, but also the need for a scoring forward.

      While nobody can say for sure where Kaberle will end up, there has been loads of speculation pertaining to multiple destinations of late. The temporary expiration of Kaberle’s No-Trade Clause has, naturally, expanded that list considerably.

      The following is a breakdown of the most commonly-speculated rumours surrounding Kaberle’s future: why the rumours are plausible, why they are not, and my own take on the likelihood of such a deal in each circumstance.

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      In their report, TSN mentions section 26.3 of the CBA which alludes to the NHL’s right to reject a deal upon suspicion of circumvention. There’s just one problem: Kovalchuk’s contract didn’t outwardly violate any payroll or term stipulations in the CBA (which are outlined in section 50).

      In other words, the Devils have NHLPA has an excellent case to file a grievance. Sure, the league suspects circumvention, but how can they actually prove it when the terms of the contract conform to the existing stipulations of the CBA? Not to mention the league has in past seasons allowed equally-suspicious contracts to the likes of Hossa, Luongo, Zetterberg, Franzen and Pronger, among others. Or the fact that Chris Chelios was playing in the league last season at the tender age of 47.

      Parsing the CBA: Term limits on contracts? None. Mandatory retirement age? None. Limits on individual contracts extending beyond a certain age limit? None.  By all technical measures, the contract conforms to the CBA as it is written. The ethics of the contract may be called into question, but how can those accusations be proven when there is no specific violation of the agreement, when similar contracts have already been approved, and when players have played well into their 40s as recently as last season?

      This is going to get real ugly, real fast.  There is absolutely no way this can end well for the league, regardless of the final ruling.

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      Got some interesting feedback from a couple sources regarding Kovalchuk’s 17 year deal, and its potential impacts on future CBA negotiations.

      Source 1:

      “These long-term deals are getting ridiculous. How many teams can compete? Kovalchuk only had two suitors due to the number of years he wanted. The league is going to look at both capping contract term and moving toward non-guaranteed contracts in the next CBA.  Contracts signed 1-2 hrs after FA are also going to be looked at and hopefully resolved. The gloves will be off on both sides, but this stuff needs to be done.”

      Source 2:

      “Kovalchuk may have unwittingly screwed the escrow issue for a lot of players. As more players make more salary than cap hit, payroll figures get inflated and the players end up paying a higher percentage of their salaries back into escrow. Kovalchuk’s salary will be 5.5m beyond his cap hit for five years of the contract, 4.5m and 2.5m above for another two years after that. He’s not the only player whose contract does this, but is the most high-profile given his standing and the absurd length of his deal. It’s going to be interesting to see how this affects negotiations as players will inevitably find themselves fighting opposing fronts — for contract freedoms such as term and front-loading, but against the escrow payments that result from those very freedoms. Advantage: league.”

      The interesting part about the escrow concern is Kovalchuk’s salary doesn’t jump beyond his cap hit until the 2012-13 season — the same year it is anticipated a new CBA will be in effect (I believe the existing CBA has been or will be extended through the 2011-12 season). The contract was set up this way by design, and should be considered very telling as to what the focus of CBA negotiations will be from the NHLPA’s perspective.

      Update: Some have been asking in the comments why Kovalchuk’s contract doesn’t violate either of the so-called “100%” and “50%” rules. The reason for this is after the jump.

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      NHL Shield

      There has been a certain degree of consternation among Maple Leafs fans of late regarding the number of SPCs (Standard Player Contracts) the team has on the books. Many have expressed concerns that the Maple Leafs are near the league maximum, and fear the situation could adversely affect the team’s efforts to continue to re-tool the club into a playoff contender.

      A quick glance at the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), however, tells us the situation is not so dire as some would have us believe. The reason? A seldom-discussed clause, unofficially dubbed the “Slide Rule”.

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      Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a fair amount of debate over yesterday’s signing of Colby Armstrong.

      I find this interesting because  much of the criticism seems to revolve around the notion of $3m equating to more than a 15 goal career average, even though Armstrong wasn’t exactly acquired for his offensive prowess.   The main criticism seems to be, why would the team be willing to make a $9 million investment over 3 years, when similar production can likely be found at a cheaper rate?

      Now, it seems most decided to stop at that point and take the easy road; that being negativity for the sake of negativity (a known idiosyncrasy of Canadian hockey fans).  But instead of screaming “WHY did they sign him?”, I propose a different question:  Why DID they sign him?

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      It appears as though Leafs’ fans will have to put the thought of pending-UFA defenseman Mike Van Ryn returning to the Maple Leafs on hold, as reports suggest he will remain on the sidelines for another season.

      Last season Van Ryn underwent an osteotomy, a complicated surgery to re-align the knee, as an alternative to a total knee replacement. He spent the entire season rehabilitating the knee with the hopes of playing in 2010-11, but it appears as though the recovery process will take him well beyond that target date.

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        Mustache Power carried him to an easy victory.

        This is why I don’t like doing prospect profiles.  Call it the “Curse of GB”.

        2008-09′s semi-popular “Getting To Know You” series featured six players who were (at the time) prospects Leafs’ fans were excited about.

        One by one, five of these prospects were gradually moved out of the system voted off the team, culminating in yesterday’s decision to not qualify Phil Oreskovic.

        The result?  Dale Mitchell is your MLHS “Getting To Know You” Survivor!

        [pause for loud cheering, applause, and a spontaneous "Go Leafs Go" chant]

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        I’ve been holding off on posting one of these, as the sheer volume of Toronto-borne speculation renders separating the plausible from the impossible a rather difficult task.

        Without further ado, here we go:

        • There is no guarantee that Tomas Kaberle is traded this weekend. Sources say the chance that he could remains a member of the Maple Leafs beyond the Draft is increasing by the day.  The reason?  “Burke wants a player who can step in and play right away. He wants to win now, and is far less concerned about getting draft picks than he is about getting an impact forward.”
        • .

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          We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Wayne Primeau, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

          Wayne PrimeauSummary:

          Acquired via trade, Primeau was brought in to provide a veteran presence to a young locker room, add grit to the fourth line and fill the role of defensive faceoff specialist.

          Although he did not particularly stand out during his 59 games, Primeau was relativley effective in his limited (albeit important) role. An unrestricted free agent, he is unlikely to return barring a substantial paycut from the $1.4m he earned last season.

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            We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature John Mitchell, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

            The Summary:

            It’s difficult to know what to make of John Mitchell. During his Leafs’ tenure he has flashed obvious talent, but also a tendency to disappear for lengthy stretches.  After a promising rookie campaign, Mitchell found himself struggling to earn ice time, playing in defensive role in front of shaky goaltending, and was later beset by a knee injury which caused him to miss 20 games.

            A restricted free agent, it goes without saying that Mitchell will have a lot to prove should the team decide to bring him back.

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            Looks like the Halak trade may have opened up the floodgates.  At least, it has for the Nashville Predators, who announced two separate trades today.

            The Predators dealt the rights to defender Dan Hamhuis and a conditional draft pick in 2011 to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for former Predator Ryan Parent.  Hamhuis, strongly rumoured to be a target of the Flyers all the way back to the trade deadline, was also rumoured to be on the Leafs’ wish list.  The value of the conditional pick be dependent upon whether the Flyers are able sign Hamhuis.

            In a separate deal, also announced today, the Predators traded veteran centre Jason Arnott to the New Jersey Devils for 22-year old winger Matt Halischuk and a second round pick.  That’s a larger return than most would expect for the 35-year old Arnott (who previously played for the Devils from 1997-2001), and is perhaps a signal that the Devils are serious about gearing up for another Cup run in 2010/11.

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              Per the Globe & Mail:

              Leafs Lunch is no longer being served at AM640 in Toronto. The daily hockey program, with Bill Watters and Darren Dreger, has been cancelled by the Toronto Maple Leafs’ host broadcaster after making a concerted challenge to the Fan 590 in the noon-to-1 p.m. time slot. The station will instead go with a syndicated talk format with Charles Adler from noon to 4 p.m., followed by the Bill Watters Show from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The station will apparently direct its sports resources to the Watters show. “The Leafs Lunch brand is not going to die,” program director Gord Harris wrote in a staff memo obtained by Usual Suspects. “It will live on — in a modified form — beginning in September.” — Full article here

              UPDATE Per William Houston:

              The Leafs Lunch show with Darren Dreger and Bill Watters will be shuttered in early July. Stafford’s mid-morning show will be extended to 1 p.m., when Adler will take over, followed by the Bill Watters afternoon drive at 4 p.m. Previously, Stafford took a break from noon to 1 p.m. , when Leafs Lunch was on the air, and then came back for another hour from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Why was Leafs Lunch cancelled? Mostly because of ratings. — Full article here (glove tap to ingy56 for the link.)

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                We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Phil Kessel, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

                Acquired via a controversial trade during the 2009 offseason in which three draft picks were sent to the Bruins, Kessel rebounded from shoulder surgery to become the Maple Leafs go-to guy in the offensive zone.

                Despite missing a month of the season, the electrifying 22-year old winger led the Maple Leafs in several offensive categories while providing the team with a legitimate scoring threat — and their first 30-goal scorer of the post-Sundin era.

                Only 22, Kessel has a bright future ahead of him and many suspect it will be only a matter of time before 40-goal seasons become the norm.

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                At an afternoon press conference at Real Sports Bar & Grill, the Toronto Maple Leafs made official the worst kept secret in the NHL by naming Dion Phaneuf the 18th captain in the club’s long and storied history (22nd if you count the St.Pats and the Arenas).

                The Maple Leafs also unveiled the team’s new jersey design.  The new jerseys return the horizontal white stripes to the bottom of the sweater, in homage to past tradition.  For more on the new designs, please see Alec’s earlier post regarding the jerseys.

                See the full list of TML captains after the jump.

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                  We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Mikhail Grabovski, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

                  The Summary:

                  Talented albeit inconsistent, Grabovski has held down the second-line centre job in Toronto for two seasons, with mixed results.  A flashy player who scored 20 goals in his rookie season, Grabovski’s tenure in Toronto has featured as many moments of offensive brilliance as head-scratching decisions (both on the ice and off).

                  Listed at 5’11″ and a generous 182 lbs, the feisty 26 year-old Belarussian plays a much more aggressive style than his size would indicate. Although he has done a passable job in the #2 centre role, questions remain as to whether he fits GM Brian Burke’s long-term vision of the club. Under contract for two more years, the enigmatic forward may find himself on the trading block should a top centre become available (via trade or FA) to the Maple Leafs.

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                    We’ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Luca Caputi, profiled by Garrett Bauman.

                    The Summary:

                    One of the Penguins’ highest-ranked prospects, 21-year old Toronto native Luca Caputi was acquired by the Maple Leafs on the eve of the Trade Deadline in exchange for long-serving winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.

                    Caputi’s acquisition was another in a long line of moves by GM Brian Burke designed to (a) clean house, and (b) add young players with upside who can contribute immediately.

                    To Caputi’s credit, the early returns have been positive the 6’3, 200lb winger can develop into a regular contributor, although with only 28 NHL games under his belt (19 with the Maple Leafs), it is difficult to gauge on what his ultimate role, or impact, will be. The 2010-11 season should provide a crucial indication of his NHL future.

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                    Support the Ride To Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret Hospital

                    Support the Ride To Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret HospitalAM 640 radio personality and co-host of the “Bill Watters Show”, Greg Brady, will be taking part in this year’s Ride To Conquer Cancer benefiting the Campbell Family Institute at the Princess Margaret Hospital.

                    Participants will cycle from Toronto to Niagara Falls over the weekend of June 12-13 in an effort to raise awareness for, and donations toward, the ongoing development of research, instructional practices, and compassionate care at the renowned Princess Margaret, one of the top five cancer research hospitals in the world.