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Anaheim

    403

    I know, I know.  It’s just one win.

    But you have to admit, it still feels good.   Somewhat of a sense of relief is sweeping through Leafs Nation today.  A sense that, although there is still a long way to go, things are not at a total loss.   This team can find ways to win, and appears to be rounding into the sort of form envisioned by GM Brian Burke during a busy and much-hyped (over-hyped?) offseason.

      279

      UPDATE: Gustavsson is skating on the ice, and Ron Wilson has suggested he might be playing on Saturday despite just one practice. Also, rumors circulating Leafs could be after Frolov. Hockey Central at Noon suggests the possibility of Burke potentially sacrificing future in order to prevent Bruins from landing top 5 pick.

        894

        The Rangers are riding a 4 game win streak, the Leafs are not. The Rangers have a goal differential of +8 in their last 4 games, the Leafs have a goal differential of -6 in their last 3 games. The Rangers are 5th in the league on the PK (88%), while the Leafs are last (53.8%). The Rangers are 4th in the league for goals against per game (2.00). The Leafs are tied in last place with Florida at 4.25.

          148

          An interesting question was brought up by Dave Hodge yesterday morning on TSN’s The Reporters amid the Phil Kessel whirlwind that erupted over the weekend: if Peter Chiarelli wasn’t interested in matching an offer sheet at the dollar figure to which Burke eventually signed the 21-year-old, described by Sports Illustrated’s Michael Farber as “a one in 500 chance,” why didn’t Burke submit the offer sheet and pay but a third rounder instead of an additional first round draft selection? Farber seemed convinced not only that Chiarelli wouldn’t match but that Burke’s decision to go the trade route instead of offer sheet avenue was to save face, anticipating the charges of hypocrisy he would encounter linking back to his response to Kevin Lowe’s offer sheet submission for Dustin Penner that ultimately went unmatched while in Anaheim.

            379

            The infamous Brian Burke “stamp” that has become his signature since his times in Hartford, Vancouver and Anaheim arrived in Toronto yesterday in the form of Phil Kessel and at the expense of the club’s next two first round draft picks and this year’s second round pick. Any time a general manager moves not one but two first round draft picks, it constitutes a major future-shaping decision and one that will ultimately play a major part in defining the legacy of his regime. Yesterday we were reaffirmed of one increasingly apparent fact about Brian Burke’s rebuild – it’s not your traditional model. We’ve seen over the course of the last three months – from June to September – Burke aggressively pursue all available avenues to try to position his club as a contender in the short and long term. Certainly, the 2009-10 campaign just got a whole lot more interesting.

              572

              To date, it has been a rather busy offseason for the Toronto Maple Leafs, with a number of free agent signings, roster re-signings, a few trades and even some coaching changes.

              The following is a chronological listing of Maple Leafs’ transactions during the 2009 offseason.

              Note: this list will continue to be updated with any further transactions made prior to the start of the 2009-10 regular season.

                4650

                Not a whole lot of news coming out of the NHL ranks these last few days, as the few free agents still available are playing the waiting game (kind of surprising to note that Alex Tanguay’s still out there). As we try to make it through the last work day before the weekend, let’s touch upon more trade speculation out of Chicago, Leaf prospect Mikhail Stefanovich, early playoff predictions and the Leafs’ second annual Coca Cola Fans First Game.

                  247

                  The Toronto Maple Leafs have released their complete regular season schedule for the upcoming 2009-2010 NHL season.

                  The Leafs will open the season at home against the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday, October 1st, followed by a date with Alex Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals on Saturday night at the Verizon Center.

                  Also of note, the team will play 4 Sunday games this season, which will include a pair of 5pm starts in Long Island and Pittsburgh. Their longest homestand will span 3 games, on 5 separate occasions throughout the season. The longest road trip of the year will encompass a pair of 5 gamers, in late October and mid-January. The late October trip should serve as an important benchmark for the young squad early into the season, as they will play all 5 games within 7 days, travelling out west to Vancouver, down south to face Anaheim and Dallas, and then back up to the northeast for games against Buffalo and Montreal. The Leafs will close out the regular season on Saturday, April 10th in Montreal.

                    76

                    It wasn’t long ago when Todd Bertuzzi, Markus Naslund, and Brendan Morrison were the talk of the league. They were arguably the best line in hockey during the 2002-03 season as the trio not only set career highs, but collectively posted 119 goals and 133 assists for 252 points. Not bad for one line. But since the lockout and the Steve Moore incident, every single one of their careers began to go downhill with a heap of steam.

                      750

                      A month into the offseason, one thing can be said for sure about the steps the Toronto Maple Leafs have taken toward rebuilding the team:  credit Brian Burke with having a plan, and sticking to it.

                      The beginnings of that plan are clearly reflected in the sweeping changes to the goaltending and defence corps this summer, as well as a noticeable infusion of truculence.

                        507

                        While he would never admit it, Ontario native Nazem Kadri must of felt a twinge of anger at how the biggest day in his life panned out. Treated like a high steak pawn at the 2009 draft where the dreams he worked so hard to achieve were to be realized, Kadri watched as a bitter Brian Burke failed to secure the vaunted trade northwards, then faced the ignominy of TSN analyst Darren Dreger questioning Burke about Brayden Schenn as he sat in silence, festooned in his Maple Leafs jersey. For sure it must have been disappointing and one can only hope he didn’t venture toward any Leafs related websites that night.

                          46

                          Even in the days of modern technology, many still profess that meteorology is an inexact science more guess work than theory. The very same can be said when scouting goaltenders. For every Mark-Andre Fleury (selected 1st overall in 2003) there’s a Brent Krahn (selected 9th overall in 2000). Meanwhile recent Vezina nominees and winners such as Tim Thomas, Mikka Kiprusoff and Evgeni Nabokov had to wait until the 217th, 116th and 219th selections respectively to see their names on the board. Indeed, the vast majority of netminders who started a game last season in the NHL had long waits deep into the second day to see their dreams realized while others went completely unnoticed only to resurface as free agents years later.

                            107

                            For much of the year, scouts from NHL clubs and private scouting agencies scour the globe for the next generational talent, the next franchise player, and the next late round steal. On Draft weekend, a year’s hard work is condensed into a single list of names, a few of whom teams hope will become the future building blocks for their franchise. In Part Three of the ’09 Draft Preview, the readers of MLHS are in for a special treat, as I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of E.J. Mcguire, the Director of the NHL’s Central Scouting Services and perhaps the most well-recognized face of the scouting world, about the upcoming June Draft.

                              61

                              In the MLSE land of unreasonable expectations, even a superstar troupe like Burke and Wilson will not be afforded another record breaking season; at least not if said record is a fifth consecutive season of playoff free hockey. Subsequently Burke is going to be looking for a catalyst to the rebuilding project come summer and the most obvious route will arrive in early July, not a week earlier in Montreal.

                                2

                                Mats Sundin’s season with the Vancouver Canucks, his chase for the 2009 Stanley Cup that brought him out of pseudo-retirement, and possibly his NHL career, ended tonight with the Canucks’ elimination from the playoffs at the hands of the young Chicago Blackhawks.

                                And now the “future of Sundin” questions, and subsequent “will-he-or-won’t-he” Favrian (or is it Favresque?) soap opera will surely begin anew.

                                  51

                                  NHLPA executive director Paul Kelly was on HockeyCentral At Noon today, and among other topics he briefly discussed the possibility of a second NHL team coming to Toronto.

                                  When asked why Toronto has not been seriously considered to date as a home for another franchise, despite the enormous fan base and subsequent opportunity to succeed financially, Kelly suggested that MLSE was not the source of resistance.

                                    379

                                    Western Conference:

                                    San Jose Sharks (1) vs Anaheim Ducks (8)
                                    Preseason odds: Sharks 10/1 Ducks 12/1
                                    Last 10: Sharks 5-4-1, Ducks 7-2-1
                                    Season Series: Sharks win 4-2-0