The Hockey Hall of Hame class of 2011 was unveiled yesterday after a panel of 18 members selected four deserving alumni for induction on November 14th. Headlining the group is former Leaf Ed Belfour, who earned inclusion as a first-time nominee. The legendary Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk were also named as inductees, both former heart and soul forwards during their time with the blue and white. Rounding out the class is Mark Howe, formerly a defenseman with the Hartford Whalers, Detroit Red Wings and Philadelphia Flyers. He joins his father, Gordie, the all-time great who was inducted back in 1972. [more…]
While free agency opens in just over a week from now, there is the possibility of Brian Burke getting his shopping done early by trading for a proven number one centre instead of gambling and probably overpaying on Brad Richards in the open market. Although there are not a ton of centers available nor is Statsny a bargain at $6.6 million cap hit, Colorado Avalanche pivot Paul Stastny is an interesting alternative to Richards considering his age (25) and pedigree. Like Richards, he's a left handed playmaker (he nearly hit 60 assists in 2009-10) who on paper would complement Kessel perfectly.
The Avalanche have never let it be known that they are willing to move Stastny, but it would make some sense for them with Matt Duchene and Ryan O'Reilly fully capable of anchoring the top two lines. In addition, Stastny carries a hefty price tag that the Leafs would gladly take on if it meant solving their number one center void. However, with a $48 million cap floor on tap for next season, and with the Avalance committing only $32 million to 14 players for 2011-12 as of now, you have to wonder if the necessary pressure points exist for Burke to get Statsny at a reasonable price. [more…]
Aside from the Stanley Cup parade yesterday in Boston, there is really not much to discuss in the hockey world. With the draft in five days and the free agent market opening shortly thereafter, it's not long before there will be plenty to talk about. Think of right now as the calm before the storm. It will be a busy off season for Brian Burke as he looks to acquire a front line centre and beef up his forward corps. This is the year the Leafs get serious about the playoffs and Burke has work to do before this roster is ready. It all begins Friday when the Leafs stand up to the podium to make their entry draft selections. Let the fun begin!
Exactly one week from today, the next wave of prospects from across North America and parts of Europe will gather for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in Minnesota. While Burke opted to flip his top picks this year and last in exchange for an established asset in Phil Kessel, there is reason for excitement around Toronto this time, with two selections in the first round and three in the top 39.
Dave Morrison and the rest of the Leafs scouting staff are preparing for a potential trade up scenario, where Brian Burke would look to move into the top 15 by combining his 25th and 39th picks. While any move is likely to be consummated on the floor, it won't be a disappointment if Burke can't move up. Scouts describe this year's draft class as being a level playing field with tremendous uncertainty after the top three picks. A player ranked in the top 10 going into the night could slip all the way to the latter stages of the first round. Essentially, this could be a first round where, from five on down, shrewd picks determines draft success more than the draft order even more than usual, and drafting twice at #25 and #30 while keeping #39 might not be a bad Plan B.
In a series where the Boston Bruins have outscored Vancouver 10-6, with 8 of those goals coming in Game 4, it is bordering on unfamiliar territory for both teams to be tied at no goals midway through the third period. As is often the case in these tight games, one bounce (or in this case two in the same play) proved to be the difference. After Kevin Bieksa's bank pass of the boards took the perfect bounce out front to Maxim Lapierre, the former Hab bounced in the biggest goal of his career off of a sprawling Tim Thomas. After having a clear advantage in Games 3 & 4 while rallying behind the loss Nathan Horton, the Bruins are now in a difficult position to climb back into the series. They must hold serve at home and hope to break the home ice advantage in game 7 to complete the comeback.
The Stanley Cup will be in the building on Monday night in Boston, with the Canucks looking to become the first Canadian team to take home the trophy since the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. Almost looking down and out despite the 2-2 series score, the Canucks with a massive game 5 win are back on top, in control, and on the brink of winning it all. One win for Vancouver and it's over.
In the wake of the Aaron Rome hit on Nathan Horton Monday night, there were mixed reviews on the severity of the incident and debate over the number of games Rome would be suspended for. Bruins fans, quite unsurprisingly, felt Rome should be booted for the remainder of the post season, while Canucks fans - of course - thought he deserved only one or two games, deeming that it was an unfortunate result to an otherwise clean hit.
After taking all of the evidence into consideration and reviewing different angles of the replay, interim NHL disciplinarian Mike Murphy announced a four-game suspension for Rome, sidelining him for the remainder of the post-season. Whether or not you agree with the ruling, the league needed to take a stand against illegal hits (and late hits, in this case) to send a message to the other 29 teams that they will not be tolerated.
Lots of Leaf-related content out there this morning, with an emphasis on Brad Richards and the possibility of him signing with the Leafs this summer. With game two of the Stanley Cup Finals getting underway tonight, feel free to share your predictions in the comments below.
Links after the jump
Maple Leafs President and General Manager appeared on NHL Live yesterday to discuss a number of topics, including the Vancouver Canucks post season success, Colin Campbell stepping down as head of NHL discipline, and the Leafs` game plan heading into the off season. Here are some of the highlights from the interview:
- When asked about the Sedin twins, Burke elaborated on how difficult it was to secure the second and third overall picks in the 1998 Draft in order to take the twins. He spoke highly of the Sedins' character, calling them 'good kids who deserve all of the accolades they have gotten'.
- Burke praised Colin Campbell for his reign as the head of discipline for the NHL and thinks Brendan Shanahan is an excellent replacement who is cut-out for the position. He also mentioned that Campbell will be able to focus on growing the game now that he is primarily in charge of hockey operations. [more…]
After 16 years of frustration and uncertainty, the Winnipeg fan base has finally be rewarded with an NHL team to support. In what was an ongoing process between the Atlanta Thrashers ownership group, the Atlanta Spirit, and True North Sports and Entertainment, the fans in Winnipeg could not be any happier at what the future holds. There are still legalities to be settled, including the approval from the NHL's Board of Governors, along with a name being chosen for the franchise prior to the draft on June 24. Good things come to those who way, and boy has the city of Winnipeg waited long enough.
While the Stanley Cup Playoffs are still running for another two weeks, the major junior season wraps up tonight with a highly anticipated matchup between the Saint John Sea Dogs and Missisisauga St. Michaels Majors. The QMJHL champion Sea Dogs entered the tournament as the favorites, with four players ranked in the top 20 for the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, including the tremendously talented Jonathan Huberdeau. However, the Majors will put up a good test and attempt to outmatch their opponent up with depth and physicality.
The atmosphere at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga will be off the charts as junior hockey fans everywhere gather for the top event of the year. Regardless of which team wins, the Memorial Cup has been thoroughly exciting, with several promising prospects eager to leave a lasting reputation with scouts. Not only is the NHL at an all time high for popularity, but the quality of the play in the CHL may have never been better.
With the Vancouver Canucks having been on the sidelines for several days now, all of the attention has shifted towards the Eastern Conference finals, with Game 7 set for tonight in Boston. The entire series has been as unpredictable as it has been exciting. The Lightning have had four five goal outings in the series (Games 1, 2, 4 and 6) disrupted by 1-0 and 3-1 losses in Games 3 and 5. We'll see if Tampa Bay can produce offensive success in the seventh and deciding game and if Dwayne Roloson provides the backing necessary to make it hold up.
It's not every day that a team can acquire a true number one centre with the ability to carry a franchise. Nevermind a guy who is only 26 years old and has recorded 115 goals in his last three seasons. When online reports trickled in from Comcast in Philadelphia and mentioned on Twitter that Jeff Carter may be on the open market, Leaf fans went abuzz about a potential swap. Regardless of whether the sources reporting the deal are legitimate, there is some reason to believe the Flyers are willing to move Carter.