In this period without any Leafs hockey, Leafs Nation speculates about the draft and summer trades and acquisitions. Once again, yours truly is here to do the former, only this time Iâ€™ll be looking at value beyond the top 10 selection.
At the moment, the Leafs hold the 35th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Itâ€™s possible, plausible even, that our second round pick gets moved in order for us to move up for a shot at that future top line forward. However, given the uncertainty of draft day decisions, especially for the top five, six draft eligible players, I doubt that will be the case.
Writer and columnist Adam Proteau has been with The Hockey News since 1999. He is a frequent contributor to radio -- including his role as host of THN's Radio Show on XM Satellite Radio -- and TV programs across North America and won the Professional Hockey Writers Association's award for best column in 2005-06.
Adam took some time from his busy schedule to answer some of our questions. This is an interview we did earlier this year and since it's pretty quiet on the Leafs front I thought it would be a good idea to publish it here since I never published the English version of the interview. Links below.
It has been 13 years since you first joined the Hockey News. What does covering the game of hockey mean to you personally? What are the main talking points that get you going for a new NHL season?
Covering the game means a chance to analyze and offer opinions on something that means more to my country than the political process. Not sure how healthy that is, but itâ€™s the same in every country with one sport or another. But I do like examining hockey as a microcosm of the bigger society we live in, and point out the logical deficiencies that exist.
In terms of talking points, the changes that are made in the off-season always are a good entry point into each new season. Fans love change, and even though Iâ€™m not a fan in the traditional sense anymore, Iâ€™m the same in that sense.
As Alex Tran discussed a week ago, apparently Leo Komarov is willing to join the Leafs. The feeling is that the 25-year-old Finnish forward is finally ready to make the transition to the best league in the world once the World Championships conclude.
"I hope so â€” as fast as possible, if they need me and they give me a good contract then I will go over there.
Komarov has one year remaining on his KHL deal but his KHL contract might include an out clause that can be activated after the World Championship. Although, that's not what the following quote suggests:
"I've got a year in Dynamo left so I don't know if they will let me go, it's my agent's work."
Whatever the case may be, trying to sign Komarov just got more likely. It also may speak about Burke's intent to make this team harder to play against than it does about him signing a player that will significantly improve our on ice talent. However, donâ€™t be fooled, Komarov can score. Here's what Burke had to say about it: [more…]
Brian Burke is mad. Make no mistake about it, heâ€™s mad about missing the playoffs. Despite what is written/said down below, Brian Burke is mad, not elated:
â€œItâ€™s hard to see a positive when you have the finish we had,â€ said Burke. â€œThere are some positives, some building blocks. The pieces you need, the Phil Kessels, the Jake Gardiners, the Dion Phaneufs, the second line. All those things have been put in place. Thatâ€™s what canâ€™t be overlooked as you dissect the season. Even a season thatâ€™s marked by failure, I think weâ€™re going in the right direction. Itâ€™s very hard to see that today.â€
Leafs Nation is the greatest hockey fan base in the world, no two ways about it. But that always comes with a price. Elevated expectations, partially self imposed by the teamâ€™s uplifting performances, are always present. However, unlike seasons past Brian Burke and his (for all intents and purposes) team doesnâ€™t have the luxury of time anymore.
â€œItâ€™s not easy to fix a team thatâ€™s broken. I had no delusions. I watched GMs get up on their first day and say: â€˜Iâ€™ve got a five-year plan.â€™ Theyâ€™re buying five years out of the gate. I donâ€™t respect that. My view is I was hopeful to do it quicker. We havenâ€™t. But I havenâ€™t changed the plan.â€
Faster, quicker, sooner or later, slower, more conservative, it doesnâ€™t really matter at this point, not for Burke. Unlike seasons past (not that he ever did this) we canâ€™t justify the coaching profile and Wilsonâ€™s style of play impacting Burkeâ€™s personnel decisions. After all, he hired Carlyle and, judging by past experience, their marriage is made in a truculent hockey heaven.
Today, Dmitry Chesnokov tweeted a quote from an interview with Mikhail Grabovski, where our recent signing claims to have been in contact with another team not named the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The quote, as translated by Chesnokov, read:
Were there any doubts when you extended your contract?
"There were doubts, and there was an offer from another club. If I wasn't needed in Toronto, I wouldn't have signed the contract. It turned out I was needed. I love Toronto. I want to play in that city."
Before we go any further, please be advised that this is all pure speculation. Keep that preface firmly planted in your mind as we continue with the speculation.
Now, it's completely possible that the team Grabo is referring to is a KHL team. Anything else, like Darren Dreger promptly noted (â€œHad an offer? How...he was still under contract.â€), would fall under tampering. Okay, letâ€™s assume for a moment this was a KHL team. [more…]
There you have it folks, the Edmonton Oilers will make their third consecutive first overall pick at the June Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. Weâ€™re all red with rage (especially that Columbus fan) and rightfully so, but the real question here is â€“ what are the draft implications for the Leafs?
They say monetary bills stick to each other and that money falls into money. The rich get richer and the poor have to wait to see who the rich will draft. Provided the Leafs donâ€™t move up, if the rich draft a forward, how will that impact our chances of drafting Galchenyuk?
A valid question. Itâ€™s possible that the Oilers in fact trade that pick and move down to pick one of either Matthew Dumba or Ryan Murray, although itâ€™s fairly early to make that assumption. What we know for sure is that the NHL once again rewarded a franchise for failing to improve, even after two first overall draft selections in a row.
If they do pick at the one spot and presumably take Yakupov, it could severely damage our chances to draft Galchenyuk. Imagine if you will, a strutting Tambellini. He goes up on the draft floor and says: â€œWe are proud (they arenâ€™t really) to select Nail Yakupov from the Sarnia Sting." Of course, this could then mean that Galchenyuk will be gone by the time the Leafs' pick rolls around given we are at the five-spot and all other teams ahead of the Blue and White are equally looking for future impact forwards. [more…]
Let's face it. We've all knew it at the beginning of the season. The best bet for the Leafs was on us being a bubble team. That doesnâ€™t exactly say â€“ confidence. We knew coming in that we probably needed some things to click for us to make the show and when those things didnâ€™t click Leafs Nation got mad. But, letâ€™s run through that last sentence again. Things needed to click for us to make the postseason. That doesnâ€™t mean things WILL click and we WILL make the postseason.
Fact is, we werenâ€™t a good enough hockey club to make it, because in the end, we didnâ€™t make it. There was a lot of stuff missing so here's my take on what Burke needs to do to make this team a competitive hockey club once again.
The biggest hockey matchup in the world has rarely had less on the line in terms of competitive importance. Draft implications could be counted as significant, but they add little to the overall fan satisfaction as far this game is concerned.
A long and frustrating season has come to an end, but each and every time this happens Leafs Nation feels a big loss. To this writer, a win against the eternal rival would be a fitting end to an already weird season. You never expect a truck to climb back after falling from a cliff.
It was the first game back in the ACC for Keith Aulie and that was about it. Game with little to no meaning will do that to your overall viewing experience. At least we won, right? Right?
In what is the fourth and final meeting between the two teams, Tampa will visit the ACC in an effort to get Steven Stamkos 60 goals. In similar fashion, I do hope that in our remaining two games Phil Kessel manages to score 40, which still probably wouldn't silence his critics.
Like Don Cherry mentioned and Brian Burke insinuated, players from Ontario do have that added incentive to play well in front of their family and friends so it wouldnâ€™t surprise me in the slightest if we saw that mark cracked tonight. The Markham native has one goal in three games against the Leafs this season, however.
The final game of the season series between the Leafs and the Sabres is upon us. For those of us who thought this game would be more meaningful (at the middle of the regular season), well, I guess the joke is on us.
Actually, the game is meaningful to the Sabres, who are chasing the Capitals after their last nightâ€™s loss against Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Itâ€™s also relevant to the Leafs because of the draft lottery - that much is obvious.
Each team won all their home games in the season series and the Sabres will likely want to continue that trend in tonightâ€™s game. Given all our injuries and recent form, I wouldnâ€™t advise betting against it.
The Maple Leafs host the Sabres who are playing on back to back nights. By that account, and under normal circumstances, this is a game the Leafs should be able to win. Unfortunately, these are anything but normal circumstances.
Key injuries, bad form and lack of compete has shattered the Leafs' home record in recent month. Given Buffalo's recent run of form, calling this a difficult encounter is an understatement.Â Buffalo lost to Pittsburgh last night, which is all fine and dandy, but the Penguins have a "slightly" better team, one that had to bounce back from back to back defeats at the hands of the Islanders.