Saturday, May 30, 2015
Authors Posts by Ryan Fancey

Ryan Fancey

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The Maple Leafs have made some final roster adjustments going into Thursday’s season opener by cutting a handful of players, reducing the roster size to 24. The twenty-four include Nazem Kadri, who’s sidelined with an injury for the next few weeks.

Among those cut are Keith Aulie, Mike Zigomanis, Darryl Boyce, Joey Crabb, and Matt Lashoff. The latter three will have to clear waivers before being assigned to the Marlies.

This is a bit of a surprise for many fans, as Aulie looked to have a spot locked down going into camp after joining the Leafs for their late playoff push last season. Essentially he was ousted by stronger play from Gunnarsson and Gardiner, and with his two-way deal and waiver exemption it was sort of a no-brainer decision to cut him after a somewhat poor preseason. This isn’t a slight on Aulie by any means, he’s still a young defenceman and solid prospect, and there’s little doubt he’ll become a full-time NHL’er eventually.

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Photo: CBC.ca

Photo: CBC.ca

Clarke MacArthur has been suspended for the remaining preseason game (tonight), along with 2 regular season games for his hit against the Wings’ Justin Abdelkader last night. You can check out the hit here and decide for yourself whether you believe this suspension was justified.

This is a pretty big blow to the Leafs considering MacArthur makes up a third of their best line alongside Grabovski and Kulemin. Stepping into that spot could be Kessel (or perhaps even Frattin?) which could cause the lines to shuffle a lot while MacArthur sits out. A second line of Bozak, Lupul and Armstrong could materialize as well. And of course, much of this still hinges on Tim Connolly’s return.

With Matthew Lombardi’s return to the lineup tonight, the line blending should be at an all-time high to start the season. Though, we’re still unsure as to whether he’ll be seeing much ice from the outset. Either way, things have gone from bad to worse for the blue and white with only five days until puck drop for games that actually matter.

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Image: David Cooper/Toronto Star

Tim Connolly will make his first appearance against his former club tonight, as the Leafs and Sabres are set to lock up for an exhibition tilt. With the lineup Wilson has decided to go with, you’d swear this was anything but.

The Leafs will ice a lineup that will closely resemble what they’ll be going with on opening night of the regular season. The only real NHL regulars not on the roster are Colby Armstrong and Luke Schenn.

For Connolly, this should feel like a regular season match-up as well, since I’m sure the competition level will be at a high while he skates against some familiar faces.

From Jonas Siegel at TSN1050 Radio, here are the Leafs’ lines, after the jump.

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It didn’t require an enormous amount of brainpower to figure out that once this Kyle Turris and Coyotes holdout situation began it was only a matter of time before trade proposals started popping up. And since the Leafs are involved in pretty much every trade rumor, well, here we are.

Damien Cox at the Star mentioned today that some talks may have arisen regarding Turris and the Leafs.

There have been some preliminary discussions on the possibility of a deal between the Leafs and Coyotes although Kurt Overhart, Turris’ agent, may be the driving force in any chats that have taken place.

I guess from his agent’s standpoint, he must believe that the Leafs are a team foolish enough to meet Turris’ salary demands. I just thought this was interesting, but in no way do I envision Burke pulling this type of deal unless the Coyotes were to help him out with an expiring contract or something along those lines. Weird.

And now on to tonight’s game. Lineups after the jump.

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In the second game of a busy pre-season schedule, the Leafs face Brayden Schenn and the Philadelphia Flyers tonight. The team kicked off things with a 4-2 win against Ottawa last night, and as you would expect, the lineup for tonight’s game is drastically different.

From Jonas Siegel at TSN1050, here are the Leafs’ lines for tonight’s game:

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I’ve only got two links this morning, and I’m sure it’s enough to keep everyone talking.

While speculation swirls around RFA defencemen Luke Schenn and Drew Doughty, it appears that they’re situations couldn’t be more different. Both restricted free agents, we’ll likely see a deal for Schenn in the next 24 hours while Doughty and the Kings still remain far apart on an agreement. It’s been said that the Kings could actually pull their current deal (around 6.8 per season) from Doughty at week’s end if things don’t shape up.

Schenn has remained positive about his whole contract process, implying that he doesn’t want to see negotiations take the focus from his game. So when the two sides eventually do settle, what type of price are we looking at? As Darren Dreger pointed out last night, somewhere between Zach Bogosian’s 2.5 and Marc Staal’s 3.9 million per season. That’s a pretty wide gap.

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Despite the tragic news of yesterday’s plane crash that rocked the hockey world, I’m going to try and change gears a little and keep things as NHL and Leafs-related as possible.

Why? Because we could probably use a few distractions for a minute, and anything I write isn’t going to hold a candle to the many thoughts and tributes outpouring from friends, colleagues, journalists and teammates that have a close relationship with those involved in what is surely the most terrifying hockey story of our time.

Two former Leafs were involved in the Lokomotiv crash; Alexander Karpovtsev and Igor Korolev, both assistant coaches. Their ties with Toronto still run deep, as you’ll read in a couple of the links below.

Mislav wrote a short piece yesterday that was both saddening and sincere, as you could tell he was deeply affected by the event. For someone who is more in tune with the international hockey scene than most, that sort of news has to be tough to wrap your head around. It’s been an absolutely terrible year for hockey, but we’ll keep going.

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Photo: Andy Devlin/Getty Images

Camp is around the corner, the Leafs are playing golf, and like many of us, Ron Wilson is projecting line combos already. The Leafs head coach voiced to the media on Tuesday that right now he envisions a lineup with Lupul – Connolly – Kessel, MacArthur – Grabovski – Kulemin, and Kadri – Bozak – Armstrong going into the season.

Of course this is preliminary, but it’s good news for Leafs fans nonetheless, and even more so for Nazem Kadri, who looks to finally become a National Hockey League mainstay.

Competition for Kadri’s wing position will likely come by way of Matt Frattin and Luca Caputi (who seems to have become somewhat forgotten this off-season.) However, the general feeling around Leafs Nation for a while has been that it’s truly Nazem’s spot to lose. Wilson’s comments today just confirmed it.

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Mike Brown
(Photo credit: Canadian Press)

Photo: Canadian Press

Matt Cooke says he’s a changed man and doesn’t want to hurt another player with an illegal hit. I believe him.

In fact, I doubt he’s ever gone into a season with the intention of ending as many careers as possible or anything foolish like that. Though, because of his recent past he’s become well-known as the dirtiest player in the NHL – until he punches a full 82 game season without incident, it’ll stay that way. Makes sense.

The recent news about Cooke’s “changed ways” stirred up a lot of conversation around the blogosphere and Twitter. Some seemed happy about Cooke trying to make a change, others crucified them for “supporting that monster.”

One argument I’ve heard from Penguins fans who continue to say they’re a fan of Cooke, is that it’s as simple as this: “Cooke is a Penguin, I’m a fan of the Penguins, I’ll support Matt Cooke. You would do the same if he played with your favorite team.”

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Photo: National Post

Not too long now friends. Every day it’s starting to feel more and more like hockey is just around the corner.

Before you know it, we’ll all be lacing up for our weekly beer league game and talking NHL hockey, probably saying things along the lines of “Stamkos is on another level” or, hopefully “Reimer is unbeatable lately.”

Now, I’m quite aware that many people play hockey through the summer, but it obviously isn’t the same – hockey consumes us in the winter months.

Many of the Leafs have now begun working out the kinks in preparation for training camp. They’re shaking off rust, kicking into gear, whatever you want to call it. Lance Hornby of the Sun has more on the team, and more specifically, Nazem Kadri hitting the ice this week:

Not yet 21, Kadri looks a lot more fit for this season. He’ll be skipping the rookie camp in Oshawa next month and going right to the main camp.

“This off-season wasn’t about (growing) for me, it was about leaning out and getting stronger and I think I accomplished both. I feel great and I’m really excited. I know I’m ready to go.”

As a Leafs fan, you love to hear those types of things from the youngster. Again we’ll wait and see if he can deliver, but it seems like he’s definitely one focused individual and I doubt that will change any time soon. Good stuff.

More links after the jump;

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Photo: Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images

There probably isn’t a coach in the NHL on a shorter leash going into the 2011-12 season than the Leafs’ own Ron Wilson. Without a contract extension, and entering the final season of his existing deal, the bench boss is fully aware that if he fails to deliver results early on, he’s done. It’s really as simple as that.

In the past we’ve often questioned whether Wilson would survive a brutal losing skid here or there (or everywhere.) Many of us have discussed - at length - the possibility of Burke exploring other options in the offseason. But none of this has ever come to fruition.

Firing a coach is a pretty enormous decision – even moreso when that coach happens to be a friend of yours, with whom you also share a past professionally.

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Photo: NYDailyNews

I could try to populate this space with filler about unimportant hockey news, or speculation over Luke Schenn that we’ve all discussed for four trillion hours. But I’ll save us all from the boredom and keep this short.

Ryan Callahan re-signed with the Rangers yesterday, avoiding arbitration by agreeing to a three year term to stay in New York. With only Shea Weber and Zach Parise remaining as important names to head to arbitration (they surely save the best for last), we all get the sense that the offseason is winding down – and it is.

We’re a couple days from August, which puts us about a month out from hockey really kicking into gear again. Hold tight folks, we’re only a few Thursday Mashups away from training camp.

On to the links after the jump

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Photo: B Samuels/Flickr

A good number of links this morning folks, including a few from the Leafs Nation which has blown up for an abundance of material in the past couple days.

We’ve also had a discussion going over whether the Leafs will look at adding Chris Campoli in the coming days/weeks. Our own Alex Tran mentioned yesterday that Campoli could be looking to come to the hockey mecca.

The question, of course, is whether Burke and co. will look at adding him for cheap after the Hawks parted ways with him yesterday.

I’m not sure the team really needs yet another defenceman, but knowing Burke and his dream of having an entire team made of blueliners, it’s very possible that he ends up with the Leafs. Why have 10 defenceman when you can have 11? Why have 49 when you can have 50?

There are a lot of links, so I’ll quit wasting your time.

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To put a close to the story from this morning, Darryl Boyce has reportedly re-signed with the Maple Leafs for one year.

From the MapleLeafs.com Press Release:

The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Thursday that the hockey club has signed forward Darryl Boyce to a one year contract.

Boyce, 27, played in 46 games for the Maple Leafs in 2010-11 and collected five goals and eight assists with 33 penalty minutes. His plus/minus mark (+8) was second on the team. He was an ‘even or plus’ in 36 of the 46 games played this past season.

An unrestricted free agent, Boyce was looking to have his future determined by week’s end. However, it was uncertain as to whether he would remain in Toronto or seek a different situation, or if  the Leafs even had him in their plans at all. Clearly they do, for at least one more year.

From James Mirtle at the Globe and Mail;

@mirtle: Boyce’s new deal with the Leafs is two-way. He’ll get $700,000 in the NHL and $105,000 in the minors.

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Photo: Getty Images

Though the main question mark remaining for the Leafs seems to be Luke Schenn and his potential re-up, there are still a few guys in the fold that need their situation sorted out.

Darryl Boyce fits that category, while he floats in limbo, unsure of where he’ll play come October.

Boyce expects to have things nailed down by Friday, and though he’d like to stay in Toronto, things are still up in the air.

Head over to the Daily Gleaner to find out why he wants to stick with the Leafs.

On to more links after the jump;

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Photo: National Post

Mike Zigomanis and the Toronto Maple Leafs have come to terms on a one-year contract.

From MapleLeafs.com:

Zigomanis, 30, collected one assist and four penalty minutes in eight games with the Maple Leafs in 2010-11. The Toronto, Ontario native also appeared in 64 games with the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League last season, leading the team in assists (33) and points (47), while adding 14 goals and 66 penalty minutes

CapGeek has it as a two-way deal, with Zigomanis’ NHL cap hit at 650K, while he’ll command 300K in the AHL (glove tap to @draglikepull for pointing this out.)

Zigomanis is mostly known for his ability to kill penalties, and win faceoffs – he fits nicely on the Leafs fourth line if he manages to see much time with the big club this upcoming season.

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Photo: TheStar.com

Now that we’ve seen Brian Burke meet his annual off-season quota of wheeling and dealing, it’s time to sit back for a minute – much like the Leafs have. With only defenceman Luke Schenn left to re-sign for the blue and white, it seems as though we’re at a “what you see is what you get” stage in the building process for the upcoming season.

It’s likely that the lineup we’re currently looking at will primarily make up the Leafs’ squad in October.

There are, however, a few spots left to fill. Burke and the Leafs brass will likely hold off on any more additions and allow prospects to compete for a place in the lineup during training camp – which seems like a pretty smart move.

Over the past week, the team has gone ahead and made a few minor upgrades, adding center Tim Connolly and defenceman Cody Franson, while they hope Matthew Lombardi could suit up for a game or two in the next two years. But while these moves have been carefully executed and well thought-out as to not hurt the team or put them in a salary cap crunch, the group up front is still terribly mediocre compared to other teams throughout the league.

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Photo: PuckDaddy/Yahoo!Sports

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail, along with TSN.ca are reporting that the Maple Leafs have come to terms with defenceman Matt Lashoff on a one year contract extension. The salary figure has not been released yet.

Lashoff is a former first round pick of the Bruins from 2005, and spent most of his time with the Marlies this past season after being acquired by the Leafs from Tampa last summer. He also spent a little time with the big club at season’s end, appearing in 11 games while adding one helper.

It’s likely the Leafs were thinking about letting this guy go, but simply couldn’t find another player capable of taking rock/country to the next level. Regardless, Lashoff will indeed add further depth to the blueline as one of Burke’s top 10 defencemen.

Lashoff had a cap hit of 550k last season, don’t expect him to get a huge raise.

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No word on the cap hit and term yet, but “Bozie” himself has confirmed that he will be returning with the Leafs. Sportsnet were the first to break the news and TSN 1050 Radio’s Rick Ralph has since reported it’s a two-year deal.

As a player who only produced 32 points in a full 82 game season of top six minutes alongside an elite finisher in Phil Kessel, and who is now expected to shift to a bottom six role going forward, you would expect something around $1.5 million per annum. More details as they become available.

Update
Per TSN: “Bozak will reportedly earn $1.95 million over the two seasons of his contract.” $975,000 per annum.

Updated Update: Dreger reports that Bozak will actually make 1.5 million dollars per season over a two year deal.

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Photo: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Darren Dreger is reporting that the Toronto Maple Leafs are completing the paperwork on a deal that will land Tim Connolly for two years. The annual cap hit is 4.75 million.

This seems like a pretty decent deal. If Connolly runs into injury trouble again, it doesn’t hurt the Leafs long term. And as for the money? It’s a little high, but won’t really affect the team as it’s doubtful they’ll be up against the cap in the next year or so.

Solid move. Fills a need while the club waits for Colborne and Kadri (amongst others) to develop. It’s a low risk deal.

Connolly notched 42 points with the Sabres in 68 games played during the 2010-11 season.

Dreger also had this to add;

Connolly had other options. Lots of interest in the last 24 hours. He wants to play in Toronto. Good fit.