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.
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.
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.
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, Turrisâ€™ 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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 isÂ a Penguin, I'm a fan of the Penguins, I'll support Matt Cooke. You wouldÂ do the same if he played with your favorite team."
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 itÂ 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'reÂ 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. Heâ€™ll be skipping the rookie camp in Oshawa next month and going right to the main camp.
â€œThis off-season wasnâ€™t about (growing) for me, it was about leaning out and getting stronger and I think I accomplished both. I feel great and Iâ€™m really excited. I know Iâ€™m ready to go.â€
As a Leafs fan, you love to hear those types of things from the youngster. Again we'll wait and see if he canÂ 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;
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.) ManyÂ of usÂ haveÂ discussed -Â at length -Â 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. [more…]
I could try toÂ 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 aÂ 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