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Alexei Ponikarovsky


    Yes, I know … it’s been a looooong time since I’ve posted anything here, but there is reason, and not because it’s off season. You’ll see a lot more frequent postings moving forward.

    I’ve been working on the fantasy staple, McKeen’s Annual Hockey Pool Yearbook, writing up player scouting notes for about a dozen players each for all 30 teams.

    Just finished up with my predictions for the NHL and thought it would a good discussion point for Leafs fans. The predictions process is a team effort for the Yearbook, but these were my contributions for the Maple Leafs next season.


      It was something that immediately popped into my head when it was announced that the Ponikarovsky to Nashville rumors were untrue and Antropov was dealt to the Rangers minutes later – did Antropov do for the Leafs what Sundin never would? The Leafs were only looking at a pick for Moore and a 4th rounder they purchased from the Lightning. The deadline was looming over their heads and off went Antropov and the remainder of his one year deal.


        Let’s take a break from the rumour mill, and have a look at where the Toronto Maple Leafs roster currently stands.

        With the draft a little over a month away, and free agency beginning shortly thereafter, it’s time to take a look at the current Maple Leafs’ roster, who is and is not under contract for next season, and the resultant depth at each position.


          Now that the 2008-09 regular season has officially ended, it’s time to take a look back over the roster to assess each of the Maple Leafs’ players.

          Note that I’m only including players who finished the season with at least one game played for the Maple Leafs, and am excluding those traded away during the course of the season.

          Statistics for those who were acquired mid-season reflect games played as members of the Maple Leafs only.


            Courtesy of Sportsnet:

            “The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the race to sign highly-touted free agent forward Tyler Bozak from the University of Denver Pioneers, sources tell Sportsnet. A strong two-way centre, Bozak has been generating league-wide interest since his freshman year with as many as 25 NHL teams trying to get his name on a contract.”


              Editted **
              What? You were expecting Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin to top the leading scorers in March? Well then. You’d be wrong … sort of. AO actually was tied at the top with another player.

              Yes, Sid the Kid (11-6-12-18) ranked near the top of the list, tied with Ottawa’s Jason Spezza (14-8-10-18). Meanwhile, the Great 8, (12-8-11-19) scored two more than Sid, and two more than the NHL scoring leader for the month of March.


                In a game that was just as much about the Flyers’ failings as it was the Leafs’ success, Toronto played an energetic 60 minutes.  Their bombardment of the Philadelphia net resulted in the exit of a shaky Martin Biron and an eventual total of 38 shots on goal.  To be brutally honest, the Flyers were awful on a night when they should have steamrolled a non-playoff team.  Ron Wilson and company must be happy that their team was the only one to show up tonight at the ACC.


                  When was the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs produced a bonafide star calibre forward through their development system? Sadly, the only one in recent memory, Brad Boyes, doesn’t even play for the Leafs, but rather for the St. Louis Blues (where Toronto 1st rounders go as they mature).


                    Update: A source’s response to Brian Burke’s rhetoric: “Burkie’s making me laugh…do you believe a thing he says right now? They’ve mulled over a number of offers and will continue to do so. He’s trying to temper expectations here as he doesn’t know if he can get the king’s ransom on these deals like he’s aiming for. Believe me, he’d almost trade the whole team less Schenn if he could. The Kaberle – Bruins denial was semantics as well.”


                      -Draft pick be damned, being 7-1-1 in our last nine against the Senators is truly heart-warming. P.S., it’s time to point the finger where it needs to be pointed, Bryan Murray… trade Jason Spezza and shake things up in the old country club. Also trade Nick Foligno. To us. For Hollweg.


                        John Mitchell capturing fastest skater honours was the revelation of today’s team skills competition. I could’ve predicted the team with Jason Blake and Dominic Moore would’ve won the event but I’m surprised Mitchell clocked in with the best individual time. Here’s the team press release containing the results:


                          Nothing beats slaughtering Cindy “headjerk” Crosby and his fellow flightless Birds. Nothing.

                          I think we’ve come to learn that – play your back-ups against the Blue and White as much as you want on any other night – don’t underestimate the Maple Leafs if it’s Saturday night. The Leafs now boast a 9-5-1 record on Hockey Nights in Canada as compared to their 12-20-9 record during the rest of the week. So as much as they may exacerbate your already depressing work week, at least they don’t ruin your weekends. On this Valentine’s day affair, the lowly Leafs were by no means their lovable selves from the opposition’s perspective.


                            So the Leafs are interested in throwing their hat into the ring as netminding bad boy Ray Emery looks for a new home? Somebody should warn Brian Burke about Razor Ray’s aversion to head gear following his altercation with Atlant Mytishchi’s team trainer Roman Sokolov last month. Yes we’ve all had a good laugh on YouTube at the expense of hockey’s self destructive answer to Britney Spears but hot of his hat phobia fisticuffs Emery has now walked out on the KHL’s second best team for another far more disinteresting reason.


                              Most recent Leafs trade talk in the mainstream media centers largely around Pavel Kubina and Tomas Kaberle. Just about enough has been mentioned on those fronts; Brian Burke will not compromise in his return demands for either of his coveted blue-liners and it appears that only time will tell. Here are three other interesting to trade or not to trade scenarios:


                                “Oh well, screw it.  It’s time to go on to the next one.”
                                Rinse and repeat Justin, as these words left the Toronto tender’s mouth after getting shelled for six goals in a loss to the Minnesota Wild last week.  One would hazard a guess that the young goalie will need some more of this good humour after seeing a similar fate tonight.  Likely exhausted from the extensive bus ride to Buffalo, the Maple Leafs as a team did very little to support their rookie netminder.


                                  A heedless penalty from Alexei Ponikarovsky in the closing stages of the third period and a predictable Vesa Toskala pratfall in the subsequent overtime period undid a strong effort from the Maple Leafs that was deserving of the two points tonight.



                                    There are a ton of rumors flying around on the Toronto Maple Leafs. Some a downright ridiculous and some may very well have merit. This is a close outlook on a few of those rumors and speculation. We’re under 2 months away from Hockey Christmas, where all the wonderful surprises of wanted and undesired gifts are passed around. A shopping list is what we all hope the Leafs are after, but sometimes there’s other plans that could be in place which may not seem so attractive at first. Consider that the following is merely speculation and rumors.


                                      A combination of terrible goaltending and suspect defensive coverage undid the Maple Leafs tonight as they sat on an early 3-0 lead thinking they would ride it to the finish line, failing to take into the account the fact that, with a goaltender that’s seriously struggling between the pipes, leads can disappear on the turn of a dime, let alone over the course of 40 minutes. The end result is one which will please neither side of tanking/playoff spectrum.


                                        Random thoughts and opinions from (roughly) the halfway point of the season:

                                        * Glad to see the mustache is back in style.   In fact, when I was younger I grew a goatee just because everyone else was doing the ‘stache.  Then the ’93 Canadiens all grew goatees during their Cup run, and it became a social mainstay.   Yes, folks, it’s true: my hatred of the Habs has nothing to do with the Leafs, and everything to do with facial hair.