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Let’s Leave A Spot for the Kids: by Caleb Dallman

I rarely post much in the debate after posts on MLHS, but I try to read most of them.  It seems like a lot of people are waiting on a trade, speculating what we could be getting and for what parts.  No one was able to predict the Phaneuf trade, nor the Giguere trade.  The Versteeg trade also came with few rumours leaking out.

So where does that leave us?  Is this speculating even worth it when Brian Burke seems to always be able to pull a rabbit out of his hat and stun the fanbase?  Sure, speculating is fun, and there are certainly some players and prospects that are more enticing than others, but in reality, how many of you guys called the Phaneuf trade?

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A pair of MLHS readers have kindly submitted FanPosts for your reading enjoyment. Logan Macneil makes the case for converting Tomas Kaberle into a top six forward while Steve Hitchins previews some of the highly anticipated fisticuffs match-ups for the upcoming season. A big pat on the back for both these gentlemen for taking the time.

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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.

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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  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.

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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.

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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.  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.

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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.  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.

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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) no one’s going to see it coming. You can bet he’s going to be be mulling over and considering all sorts of huge blockbuster type scenarios over the next few days, and there could be the teeniest, tiniest, slightest, smaller than Wallin’s point totals chance that he’ll have an interesting decision to make: whether to trade Schenn or Kadri. Yes, I know the popular opinion is to never trade either of them and I’m fully on board with that, but this is purely hypothetical. Imagine Sidney Crosby or whatever player of your choice is coming back the other way.

Now… the other team has given you the choice of giving up either defenseman Luke Schenn, the former 5th overall pick and future defensive anchor on the blueline, or Nazem Kadri, the former 7th overall pick and talented potential 1st line center. Which one would you be more inclined to trade away, and which one would you be more inclined to keep?

No copping out!

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In 2005, the NHL was returning to work after a year long lockout, a bitter battle between players and owners over cost certainty.  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.  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.  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.

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Support the Ride To Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret Hospital

Support the Ride To Conquer Cancer benefiting the Princess Margaret HospitalAM 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.

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(Author’s note: credit goes out to MLHS reader the stache, whose comment, “Is it possible to start up a poll/page on the Kaberle deal with every member giving their ONE Kaberle deal and whoever has the closest after the fact idk gets mad props” is the basis for this article.  Good on ya, buddy)

Salutations, true beleafers! We stand but a month away from the 2010 NHL draft in Los Angeles, where Burke and the boys from Scouting and Development will be showing up like beggars at the ball.  The consensus amongst Leaf fans and hockey analysts is that our faithful #15, Tomas Kaberle, shall be brought to market in LA and sold to the highest bidder.

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National Hockey League

NHL ShieldThings may be relatively quiet in Leafs Nation these days, but that doesn’t mean there has been a lack of excitement elsewhere in the NHL.

As such, here are a few quick takes on some of the headlines dominating the NHL landscape these days (including the Phoenix Coyotes situation, the Patrice Cormier charges, and Willie Mitchell’s controversial comments),  as well as a quick glance at the nearly-completed 2nd round of the NHL playoffs.

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Ron Wilson, an alumnus from Providence College, was playing for Davos in the Swiss National League A in 1985 when pivotal Minnesota North Stars defenseman Craig Hartsburg was injured. Embroiled in a battle for a playoff spot, Minnesota were in tough to find a stabilizing replacement to hold down the North Stars backend whilst Hartsburg recovered. Ron Wilson, a standout collegiate defender who never rose above major league stopgap, became the go-to-guy having already played 13 games for the North Stars the season previous. A span that bullet pointed five seasons in Switzerland.

A grizzled journeyman by age 30; Wilson would provide stellar coverage in Hartsburg’s absence securing an presence on the North Stars blueline in the 1986-’87 season before completing his NHL playing career with Minnesota a year later.

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Those who know me can tell you I am an avid reader.  I devour books at a staggering pace, specializing in sports books and autobiographies mostly.  And as the warm weather approaches, and the hockey season gives way to deck weather, my reading habit ramps up considerably.

Book of choice at the moment?  ”The Yankee Years”  by Joe Torre.  A fantastic account of life in the major leagues and life as the manager of one of the most popular, most traditional, and at times, most dysfunctional franchises in the world.

Torre does an excellent job of taking readers behind the scenes of his time in New York, including a fist hand look of one of the biggest rivalries in all of sports.  That is, the Yankees and the Boston Red Sox.

And that’s where the parallels started standing out to me as a Leafs fan.

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Is it just me, or has the hockey season passed us by far quicker than usual? It seems like I just finished making arrangements for the home opener against Hamilton (which, might I add was a win) and here I am already looking back at the season that was.

It was an absolute blur of call-ups and injuries. The bright young stars that comprised the frat-pack line (Tyler Bozak, Christian Hanson and Viktor Stalberg) all found their way up to the Leafs. Carl Gunnarsson, the player I was most keen on going into the season, left the Marlies early on for the big club and never looked back.

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Lots of reading today: Gus chips in an  analogical look at the NHL playoff series; Alex has your links with a look at potential Leaf Jussi Rynnas.

In what was Brian Burke’s first summer on the job with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was clear from the get go that he put an onus on improving specialty teams, and also team defense.  The brash Toronto GM made a lot of moves as it related to improving these areas, and on paper they looked like a sure recipe for change and improvement.

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So the curtain comes down on the 2009-2010 Maple Leafs season. I know many readers are upset because we as Leaf fans must once again adopt and follow an entirely different team as a sort of playoff hockey avatar in order to fully enjoy the postseason (I find the only way to really get in to it is to pick a surrogate rooting interest). The angst is ramped up in Leaf land as well because the team finished so low in the standings, yet come draft day the guys clustered around our table won’t be studying anything more intently than the lunch menu, because we won’t likely have a pick for the first day and a half (unless Burkie has a miracle relating to a certain Czech defenceman tucked up inside those French cuffs).

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With the final bell about to ring season most fans would be happy to forget – although the impending draft all but dictates they most assuredly will not – the Maple Leafs will officially enter the offseason five campaigns removed from the playoffs at the conclusion of Saturday night’s game in Montreal.

Unlike previous years, however, this season has revealed to fans — amidst the rubble of far too many losses — a silver lining of sorts: the promise of youth.

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I really had so many options with this title. With all the Anaheim prospects on Toronto, I thought of calling it “Duck, Duck, Duck, Moose!” With many players returning from injury, I pondered using “I’ve got 99 Problems, but a Stitch Ain’t One.” But really, being five points out with five games remaining, the Marlies truly are on a wild Moose chase.

As it stands now, the Marlies will have to win all of their final five games to have a hope of extending the season past April 12th. The two most important of these will need to come this weekend as Toronto faces Manitoba, the current occupant of the 4th and final spot.

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Alec’s Note: Please welcome Marlies writer Clayton Hansler, the newest member of the MLHS blogging team. Clayton has contributed freelance work to Leafs TV and is in regular contact with the Marlies club and personnel. We’re excited to have him. Welcome, Clatyon!

The Ducks play spoiler to the blue and white… kind of. As the Marlies head down the stretch and zero in on the number four spot in the North West, Anaheim pulls a key contributor up to the big club. As if it’s not already hard enough watching talent on the baby buds knowing they’ll never develop into a Leaf.