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Jon Steitzer

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Jon survived in the wild for several years but now lives in captivity. His diet consists of meats and grains. He is on twitter dot com. Visit him at twitter.com/yakovmironov or his oft-neglected site yakovmironov.blogspot.ca

Photo: RENE BAILLARGEON/QMI Agency

There are more than a few things I’ll never understand in life. Why do Americans want sports on TV in the middle of the day on the weekend? Who actually likes DJ banter on the radio? And why is the KHL considered to equal death for prospects?

The first two I’ve given up on and accepted as an unfortunate part of life, but the fear of the KHL seems like one that can be addressed easily. Simply put, I think the common perception of the prospects leaving for the KHL is wrong. In fact, the NHL should be encouraging some of their young prospects to consider going this route as it will potentially elevate their game.

Being pro-Russian prospect is easier this week with Vladimir Tarasenko returning to the Blues than it was a few weeks ago when Kuznetsov decided to stay in the KHL for another couple of years. Although, in his decision Kuznetsov does hint at the benefits to his development, and if you scan the Capitals roster there does not seem to be any certainty that a 20 year old offensive player will readily crack the lineup. If he continues to excel in Russia it seems that in two years it could be his spot to lose.

Justin Schultz

Photo: Elsa/Getty Images

Saying I have very little knowledge about Justin Schultz is quite the understatement. I have never seen him play, until this post I had never looked at a single one of his stats, and ultimately this whole situation seemed reminiscent of teams fighting for the services of Matt Gilroy a few seasons ago (Gilroy was statistically not as good.) The only thing I really knew for sure is that he was Jake Gardiner’s defensive partner at the University of Wisconsin, and based on Gardiner’s performance Wisconsin does alright in the offensive defensemen development department.

On Friday, Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Justin Schultz was officially leaving school:

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Photo Credit: Abelimages/Getty Images

On July 2, 2011 you could find me in the kitchen preheating an oven. Why? I wanted to make sure that everything was nice and warm for when I threw my head into it because the Leafs signed Tim Connolly. Was this an overreaction? Sure. Connolly may have a high cap hit at $4.5 million a season, but his contract is for only two years.

In year one Connolly did little to prove me wrong. In a season where Connolly would actually avoid the injury bug (missing only 12 games is an achievement for him), Tim would put up his lowest point totals since before the lockout (excluding the season he missed and his 2 game season.) Anyway you cut it 36 points seems bad, especially since this was the player pegged to be the new first line center (unfair expectation alert.)

Photo: The Canadian Press

Being a Leafs fan in Northern Alberta offers few benefits. I get to see the team play live only once a year. I have to subscribe to Center Ice or track down feeds online if I want to catch Sportsnet or Leafs TV games, and I never know what is happening with the Marlies. To make matters worse, the Leafs scouting staff rarely selects players from the WHL so I get few chances to watch prospects, and rarely have hope that a Western player will be selected in the draft by the Leafs (All QMJHL fans are playing a tiny violin for me right now.)

It has been a different story the past couple of weeks, as the Portland Winterhawks have been playing my local Edmonton Oil Kings in the Western Hockey League Finals, and that has meant a lot of Brad Ross viewings.

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Photo: Associated Press

It’s 46 days until the draft, 55 until Free Agency, but it’s also 131 days from the expiration of the CBA.

What a terrible summer to rebuild a bad team. An expiring Collective Bargaining Agreement there hasn’t been any negotiations on is a pretty big elephant in the room for teams looking to scratch and claw their way out of the basement.

Enter the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that failed to recognize the new direction after the last CBA. A team that has remained devoted to spending to the salary cap and a team that has no foreseeable long term planning beyond the acknowledgement that younger players are the best option when you’re not yet ready to seriously contend for a Stanley Cup.

The next CBA could potentially provide even greater challenges as the league is more focused on closing cap loopholes than allowing any form of free spending ways. Below are ten possible scenarios that could come up in the CBA and how the potential fallout could affect the Leafs.

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The Leafs should've foreseen Luongo's availability, anticipated Tampa's interest in Luongo, and offer sheeted Stamkos last year to win the Luongo sweepstakes. Burke is an idiot.Â
-Steve Simmons

Like most Leaf fans, I have a strong distaste for the writing of Steve Simmons, and I will never understand how someone paid to write about sports for a living becomes so jaded and has such a sense of entitlement. What perplexes me the most is how he is regularly allowed to get away with these half-though-out articles that most people would be embarrassed to post on HFBoards.

Take Saturdays offering: “The Leafs Coulda, Shoulda Signed Stamkos.” (click at your own peril; actually, don’t click).

The title is already somewhat misleading as the premise is based in signing Stamkos to an offer sheet, and it would result in Tampa Bay matching the offer damaging their cap situation not actually adding Stamkos to the Leafs. Of course, the headline is purposely this way to sucker in people like myself who normally don’t give Simmons the time of day.

While the title of the article indicates that in some way he is writing about a Stamkos situation from a year ago, Simmons is actually writing about the present day belief that the Lightning, the Leafs, and the Blackhawks are the front runners for landing Roberto Luongo, and that if Stamkos had a higher cap hit Tampa Bay would not be able to pursue him.

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Photo: Dave Abel/Toronto Sun

We’re ecstatic to welcome Jon Steitzer to the MLHS blogging team. He formerly blogged at Bloguin’s Leafs site Puckin’ Eh and now runs his own blog Yakov Mironov. He’s also a funny twitterer who can be followed here. With the introductions out of way, settle in for Jon’s in-depth look at the long-term sustainability of Burke’s team building.

I wrote the bulk of the post you are about to read shortly before the deadline. It is a call for building a roster that is sustainable in the long term in exchange for some short term pain. It was originally written at a time when the Leafs were just beginning their downward spiral that would ultimately consume all hope. A few of things came out of it.

The first was that the Leafs are not as far along as I may have originally hoped. The second is that an extended rebuild will not be tolerated, and a modest milestone of success (like, I dunno, making the playoffs for the first time since the lockout) must be achieved next season. Finally, this is now a team being built for Randy Carlyle, and with Carlyle’s philosophy being closely aligned with Burke’s there is a potential for finally achieving some synergy when it comes to team building.

While the short term goal of the playoffs must be achieved, the case must be made that long term sustainable success still has to be the priority of the Leafs front office. I have tried to write a blog post a number of times looking at what a successful long term plan would look like for the Leafs. I thought I would apply some principles from Workforce Planning which seems infinitely relevant as I can’t think of think of any other field that treats people more like commodities than professional sports. The goals I’m attempting to accomplish are to make sure we have a sustainable supply and demand model, proper development of employees, succession planning, and are putting people in a position where they can have the highest level of success all while balancing a labor budget.