When Brian Burke added Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin to an established Leafs cast of Luke Schenn, Tomas Kaberle, Ian White and Jeff Finger it looked to all that the Toronto GM had built himself an enviable problem. A premium blueline, arguably one of the finest in the Eastern Conference, that also came with a premium price tag.
Of course, what began an enviable problem on paper quickly devolved into an actual problem when the new additions failed to mesh into a cohesive unit with defensive and special team frailties more apparent than those of an comparatively budget offense.
As much of the league takes a post-draft/free agent frenzy breather for the Canada Day and July 4th long weekend, I figure I'll spark some discussion with a bit of educated speculation. In talking to a source over the past week it's been suggested to me that Brian Burke has a Â deal or two on the table for scoring help involving a Leaf asset he's struggling with the idea of parting with. It's said at this time Burke is hoping desperation on the part of the involved GMs reduces the price on a few top six trade options as the off-season continues. [more…]
ESPN's Pierre LeBrun floated out over twitter last night the possibility of Leaf interest in winger Maxim Afinogenov. One's initial reaction might be to dismiss the Russian enigma as the anti-Burke. Looking at the list of remaining UFAs, there are also a few scoring wingers that could be considered safer, comparable alternatives (i.e. Alexander Frolov). But in the salary capped hockey world we live in, where a player's on-ice ability is ever tempered by his dollar value against the cap, Afinogenov's services could actually comprise a niche market of sorts for clubs looking for a Plan B scoring option with fewer strings attached. [more…]
While the acquisition of Kris Versteeg certainly helps, and Colby Armstrong could potentially step into a top six role to add a physical presence with some offensive upside, the Leafs are still in need of more pure goal-scoring ability up front. Options are scarce in the free agent market, but the likes of Matthew Lombardi (although reports indicate he is seeking upwards of $4 million per season), Alexander Frolov and Ilya Kovalchuk are still available.
Trades are never won or lost when initially made, and tonight's multi-player deal with Chicago is the very embodiment of that fact. Analyzing a deal that sent Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweatt to Toronto for Viktor Stalberg, Phillippe Paradis and Chris Didomenico involves a lot of subjective potential measurement. Â Making the task more difficult is that two teams often come together to execute a trade for very different reasons in a salary cap era.
It's been a hot topic, and a touchy one at that for the better part of almost a year, since the day the trade was consummated. Â The Toronto Maple Leafs, toward the end of the pre-season, announced that they had traded two firsts and a second round pick to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Phil Kessel, a young American born sniper who the B's were having issues resigning.
It was a steep price to pay, but you have to give to receive, and in Kessel the Leafs got a bona fide goal scorer who looks like he could be a perennial 30 goal scorer (more on that later.)
And yet some people have cast Kessel to fail, no matter what impact he has on the Leafs, attaching him forever to the trade that brought him here.
This past week, Bill Watters took that to the extreme, and took a piece of integrity written journalism and turned into something sensational and downright wrong, all in the name of making Phil Kessel look as bad as possible because he doesn't agree with the trade.
If Brian Burke is contemplating the idea of acquiring Marc Savard, the Toronto Maple Leafs may be on the verge of adding aÂ substantialÂ piece to its rebuilding plan.
That may sound strange considering the playmaking center is nearly 33 years old and is the beneficiary of a seven-year contract, but there are other factors at play that makes thisÂ rumorÂ an enticing one.
If the Toronto Maple Leafs hope to complete the task of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in six years, they will need to import some firepower to the forward ranks.
It's unlikely the current group of forwards would provide the necessary boost for the Leafs to vault Â from 15th to eight place in the Eastern Â Conference. Even with the inclusion of Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel and the reliable duo of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Jonas Gustavsson Â between the pipes to start the season (and hopefully a healthy Mike Komisarek), the offence is simply too bare to score enough goals consistently over an 82-game schedule.
As we head into the draft weekend, Burke's shown the fans and media that a) he's not afraid to swing a huge deal and b) [more…]
In 2005, the NHL was returning to work after a year long lockout, a bitter battle between players and owners over cost certainty. Â The entry draft in June of 2005 was really the beginning of a new era in hockey, and a new era for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted Sidney Crosby first overall, a move that would change their fortunes forever.
Drafted second that year was Bobby Ryan. Â A big bodied power forward with tremendous skill, I had the chance to watch Ryan in person blaze up and down the ice for the Owen Sound Attack. Â One look at Ryan moving swiftly between checkers, puck on a string as he bobbed and weaved his way into a prime scoring area, and it was clear.
This dude was one heck of a consolation prize.
And the GM who was afforded that consolation prize, as you are all aware, was one Brian Burke. [more…]
Although Nathan Horton has not been linked as a potential target of GM Brian Burke, I believe it is within the realm of possibility. I base this simply from speculation posted at Spector's Hockey.
One of the links quotes Elliotte Friedman discussing the possibility of Florida Panthers' GM Dave Tallon pursuing Tomas Kaberle. What's interesting is that Bruce Garrioch, of the Ottawa Sun, reported that Tallon is believed to be shopping Horton.
AM 640 radio personality and co-host of the "Bill Watters Show", Greg Brady, will be taking part in this year's Ride To Conquer Cancer benefiting the Campbell Family Institute at the Princess Margaret Hospital.
Participants will cycle from Toronto to Niagara Falls over the weekend of June 12-13 in an effort to raise awareness for, and donations toward, the ongoing development of research, instructional practices, and compassionate care at the renowned Princess Margaret, one of the top five cancer research hospitals in the world.