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Morning Mashup

Morning Mashup

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While it may not be as exciting as next week’s trade deadline, the College Free Agent signing season is now underway. At the moment the Lightning seem to be faring the best, landing the 6’8 Czech Andrej Sustr, a player that as many as 25 NHL teams were looking into, including the Leafs. The new target on the blueline could now be Danny DeKeyser, a 6’3, 186lb. American from Western Michigan University. TOR was front and centre for DeKeyser when Brian Burke was GM. Now ANA, where Burke is working, said to be heavily in the mix. — Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) March...

Morgan Rielly 1st Pro Goal

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After the jump, take in Morgan Rielly's first pro goal in his first pro appearance during last night's Marlies-Wolves game (4-3 shootout loss). [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ix8mhDl3YlE#t=2m25s&w=480&h=360] It's tough to tell how he looked in the run of play and in the defensive zone from this footage alone (adjustment period should be expected), as these are just highlights and the video was shot with a potato. I did notice on one of the replays he made a nice diagonal outlet pass across the neutral zone to set up a near-goal. The scoresheet says a goal, four shots on net and a -1. Saturday Morning...

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With the boats now foolishly burnt and the season 31 games old, the Toronto Maple Leafs sure look like they’re reeling into form.  Since starting the season with a record of 15 – 9 – 0, the Leafs have gone 1 – 3 – 3 in the past seven games, collecting only five points in the standings and now sitting precariously in sixth place in the Eastern Conference. Through the good graces of the Hockey gods and the incompetence of their direct competition (the Jets, Hurricanes and Rangers all lost in regulation last night), the Leafs are just barely keeping...

Corey Perry

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News broke last evening that Corey Perry had signed an 8 year deal totalling 69 million dollars to stay with the Anaheim Ducks and his newly signed centerman (also of 8 years), Ryan Getzlaf. Perry agrees to eight-year, $69 M deal with Anaheim; $8.625 M AAV — Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 19, 2013 Pierre wrote a pretty good piece here on it. A précis of this is basically: Getzlaf signed, the team is doing well, I like it here in California. Not too earth shattering. This is noteworthy to Leaf fans, because, well, he was supposed to sign in Toronto so he could "move closer...

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Kudos if you’re reading this before noon, and my condolences if the only reason you’re reading it early is because you forgot to book Monday off work. Happy Advil Day! I’ll have an actual post later in the week, but the Leafs not playing until Wednesday hasn’t left me with much to say beyond the usual, “Holzer sucks, Free Gardiner, and Trade Bozak.” Since I felt compelled to provide one unique thought before bolting out the door to pretend I’m Irish, I’ll encourage you to check out the Future Watch issue of The Hockey News. I largely despise The Hockey News...

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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Joffrey Lupul returns to the Leaf lineup at a time when they could sure use a boost. It's not official that he'll play tonight, but the indication from the player himself is that he will be making his reappearance against the Winnipeg Jets after 25 games missed due to the broken forearm, and indications from practice yesterday are that he might start off on a line with Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin. One imagines, after some time to shake off the rust, he'll make his way back up to the top line opposite Kessel. For tonight, I'm curious to...

Jay McClement

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Here’s five Leaf thoughts to get you through your Friday, with five links at the bottom. Steckel and McClement Faceoff Woes I was taking a look at the faceoff numbers, and I noticed some altogether startling numbers from Steckel and McClement.  Both were once kings of the faceoff circle, with McClement averaging 51.6% of his 1152 draws in 2010-2011 and 51.3% of his 873 draws in 2011-2012, whereas Steckel won 62.3% of his 820 draws in 2010-2011, and 58.0% of his 1108 draws in 2011-2012. This season, McClement has won only 45.3% of his 139 draws, while Steckel has only won 46.9%...

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Before we get to this morning's thoughts and links, I just wanted to thank everyone for the feedback and well wishes. I've been a reader of MLHS since late 2009 and it truly is an honor to write for this awesome blog community. First things first, here's the tweet we've all seen by now from Ben Hankinson, Jake Gardiner's agent from Octagon Sports Management, who sent this out as the Leafs were losing to the Winnipeg Jets: Many thought the tweet was out of line and ill-advised, especially given the agent's radio silence afterward, leaving Jake Gardiner to answer to a...

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The Toronto Maple Leafs are sitting in fifth place in the Eastern Conference (fourth in the Eastern Conference in wins) and some folks, even Leaf fans who write about the game, are simply writing it of as nothing other than luck. Puck luck. Good goaltending. Streaky scorers. Bad coaching is even bandied around as one of the reasons they’re bad - but not showing it yet - this season. The truth is that the Leafs are playing right about where they should have been last year—offensively—but with a system that allows them to hold leads, shut down teams when they need to, kill...

Corey Perry

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With just over three weeks to go until the trade deadline, I feel as if I can get away with a rosterbation post without too much scrutiny. I’ll do my best to not go full HFBoards with my ideas, but certainly have a few players in mind that I’d like for the Leafs to target, and a few that I’d like Nonis to jettison. While I’m sure this won’t be the most intelligent post you’ll read this morning, hopefully it will at least spark some Monday morning conversation. Three I’d like to see the Leafs target Jay Bouwmeester of the Flames....

Tyler Bozak

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I took in what felt like a one-point win last night at the ACC. I of little faith was thinking “blow out” after the bang-bang goals in the first, but there seems to be something different about this team (visible in the Bruins game as well). They didn’t slip silently into the night, and by the end of it you had the feeling Crosby, Malkin and co. snuck away, or limped away, with the extra point. I’ll ignore the awful first period from the Leafs - and how deeply underwater the first line was in its head to head with...

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With the first half of the season in the books, the Toronto Maple Leafs sit firmly entrenched in fifth place in the East with an impressive record of 15 – 10 – 0.  So who should we thank for the great successes so far at the midway mark? Top Forward: In the least interesting reveal of the article, Nazem Kadri wins this first Middy™ by a wide margin.  He took the team lead in points in the third game of the season and hasn’t looked back, having tallied 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points in 25 games.  His arrival...

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Last night's 5-4 nail-biting win over the Sens further fanned the fires of the current "debate" on the role of fighting in the Leafs' mid-season success. In case you haven't seen it already, here's the video of the KO McLaren delivered on Dziurzynski.  It seems like McLaren only grazes him but given the speed at which these guys are throwing down, what's a chin to a flying fist (or sheet of ice). Kessel also came out with his second 3-point night of the season and generally looked to have given a 200 ft. effort, along with 5 SOG. Nazem Kadri meanwhile continues...

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For reasons beyond my comprehension, the two-year contract extension handed out to 25-year-old Korbinian Holzer yesterday generated reactions beyond "oh, alright" on Twitter. Unless you're predisposed to criticizing minor decisions with little downside, what is there to hate? Worst case: The Leafs have signed a relatively young, homegrown depth defenceman for a deal below the 900k salary required for a one-way contract to count against the salary cap if the player is in the minors. Yes, he takes up a SPC slot, but you need cheap depth options in your organization. The best case is that Holzer, he of 18 games, develops...

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No games for three days makes for very little in Maple Leafs land development. There’s Komisarek’s laughable trade request, there’s Frattin’s potential return to the lineup this week, and there’s still the question of why isn’t Gardiner on the Maple Leafs, but for the most part all of it is nothing more than a waiting game. Instead, I’m going to look at the most basic of stats (goals and assists) and how the first line forwards are doing in those categories. The Numbers 38% - That’s the percentage of game winning goals scored by the first line this season. Kessel...

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I hope everyone will be taking the opportunity to do something with their families, spouses or significant others on this unfortunately vacant Saturday night. Just a few thoughts on the Leafs' recent performance before we get into some links. I worry the win over the New York Islanders is the type that could delude a team into thinking their performance has been good enough as of late. The Leafs’ performance against the Isles was very close to as bad as their performance against the Canadiens in terms of the “process” Carlyle stresses often, the main difference being the strength of opponent....

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After 22 games, the one thing Leafs fans can agree on is that Randy Carlyle’s coaching methodology can be frustrating as hell.  Nowhere is this more apparent than the deployment of Mikhail Grabovski. After signing a five-year, 27.5-million dollar contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs last March, it seemed as though the Leafs had shored up a terrific top-six centreman who could be counted on for 50 points a season.  But after 22 games Grabo sits with a modest 10 points (six goals, four assists); good for about 37 points in an 82-game schedule.  Yet under Carlyle he’s developed...

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Tonight, the Leafs look to move to 3-0 against the Canadiens and in the process take down the current Eastern Conference and Northeast Division leader.The Leafs have handed the Habs two of their only four regulation losses this season. You have to like how the Leafs have matched up with the Habs so far this season, allowing just one goal in their two meetings, and the thoroughness of the Hockey Day in Canada beatdown has to give the Leafs a mental edge. The Leafs have gotten good goaltending against Montreal and have dominated the key areas of the ice with...

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The always tedious Hockey Night in Canada Hot Stove brought us a worthwhile nugget to examine this weekend, and that’s our first look at the proposed four new conferences that the NHL will be rolling out next season. Earlier in the week, both Darren Dreger and the more reliable Bob MacKenzie hinted that we are only a week or two away from this realignment being finalized, so we can assume this is pretty close to being set in stone: Conference #1 Conference #2 Conference #3 Conference #4 Carolina Boston Chicago Anaheim Columbus Buffalo Colorado Calgary New Jersey Detroit Dallas Edmonton NY Islanders Florida Minnesota Los Angeles NY Rangers Montreal Nashville Phoenix Philadelphia Ottawa St. Louis San Jose Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Winnipeg Vancouver Washington Toronto   Of course, we thought we might be close to a...

Carlyle Welcomed back to Winnipeg

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If I reported back from the future after the Leafs' first 17 games and told you before the season started: Joffrey Lupul has been out injured since game three, Jake Gardiner has only played two games and is in the minors, Phil Kessel went on a 10-game goalless drought to start the season, Dion Phaneuf recorded only one assist and no goals in his first 11 games, James Reimer has been out injured for several games and we haven't acquired Roberto Luongo or any form of goaltending help, our only player acquisition since the lockout ended is Frazer McLaren, Colton...