Garrett Bauman has wrapped up his “Getting to Know You” series for the ’08/’09 season. For those who may have missed a post or are interested in re-reading some of these insightful pieces, here’s a cumulative list of this season’s series:
Garrett will be resuming the feature next fall. For future reference, the list can be found under the “Prospect Files” page of the website. They’re certainly recommended, relevant reads.
It looks as though Phil Oreskovic will make his NHL debut tomorrow night vs. Ottawa as the Leafs attempt to cope with an injury-riddled blue-line. Anton Stralman will also feature with Tomas Kaberle, Mike Van Ryn, Jonas Frogren and waiver pick-up Erik Reitz all sidelined. Reitz and Kaberle should be back in action within a week whereas Van Ryn’s season may well be over after he sustained a wince-inducing knee injury last night against the Oilers. Just when we thought we were done with one freakishly injury prone defenseman, it looks like VR will be eliciting the frustration of Carlo Colaiacovo’s tenure as a very skilled defenseman who simply cannot stay off the shelf. The timeline on Frogren isn’t yet known, but Wilson suggested after last night’s loss that “he will be a while” recovering from his lower body injury.
Check out Garrett Bauman’s “Getting To Know You” profile of Phil Oreskovic here.
During the post-game news conference following the shootout victory over the Rangers, coach Ron Wilson acknowledged that Jeff Finger and John Mitchell, injured during the game, are “99%” unlikely to play against the Islanders on Thursday.
To take their places, Anton Stralman and Tim Stapleton have been recalled.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs announced Friday that forward Nikolai Kulemin and defenceman Anton Stralman have been assigned to the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League. Kulemin and Stralman will join the Marlies for their game tonight in Syracuse.
ANTON STRALMAN (# 36)
Birthdate:Â August 1st, 1986
(for all you stargazers out there, that makes him a Leo).
Hometown:Â Tibro, Sweden
Anton Stralman has been sent down to the Marlies presumably to accommodate the return of Jonas Frogren off the injury reserve come Tuesday against New Jersey (or possibly because he was sitting the press box & not playing). In keeping with the “if you come to play you stay” mantra that Ron Wilson has been preaching, Jaime Sifers’ run with the big club has been extended.
Stralman was outwardly displeased last time he was demoted to the AHL, which makes one a little uneasy about his potential reaction this time around. Due to waiver restrictions, it was going to have to be one of Sifers or Stralman, and there’s no doubt Sifers is deserving of an extended stay with the big club based on his performance so far.
Coming off the heels of two lopsided losses, the Maple Leafs are headed back home, where they will face the offensive firepower of the Washington Capitals.
In the ultimate act of callousness by league schedulers, the Maple Leafs will open their regular season account inside the Joe Louis Arena, where they will endure the pre-game banner raising ceremony for the Stanley Cup winning Detroit Red Wings.
The Maple Leafs are ready to set the upcoming season stage for the Detroit Red Wings tonight at the Joe Louis arena and quite a few regulars are ready to pull the jersey back on.
The Leafs are looking to put up a strong performance after back to back stable appearances against the defending champs. With a similar roster, it will be interesting to see how Toskala fairs in net behind the crop.
Discuss it Here>>>
After dealing away high picks for so many years, it finally looks like one of the NHL’s worst farm systems is beginning to turn the corner these last couple of years.
For the most part, the Leafs’ prospect talent level is very top heavy with a few bluechippers heading this list, followed by an intriguing combination of high potential boom or bust prospects in the lower ranks. The orgainzation’s biggest strengths are its depth at the centre position and generally high skill level among its forwards. The farm system’s weakness occurs on the blueline where there is little to look forward to beyond Schenn and Stralman, particularly if Vorobiev decides not to come over. The general lack of speed in the organization is also a cause a for concern.
A few notes on the Leafs recent demotions, Wednesdayâ€™s roster tidbits and a quick review of Monday nightâ€™s affair with the Blues.
My post-game notes from tonight’s 3-2 loss inside Mellon Arena:
-Some promising individual performances, but the chemistry amongst many of the lines was lacking.
-All three goals were avoidable. If Anton Stralman and Josef Boumedienne were facing up ice when playing the cross-crease passes there wouldn’t have been an issue. It just seemed to be a freak incident when Stralman lost his footing on the third marker and Kaberle’s jumping of the gun in heading up ice gave the Pens a 2 on 0 situation.
>>>DISCUSS IT HERE
Theyâ€™re out there. Everywhere you look.
The predictions that place the Leafs anywhere from 10th to 14th in the Eastern conference for the upcoming NHL season. Most hockey pundits are not giving the Maple Leafs much of a shot at a playoff spot, and based on recent history with the club, they have every reason not to.
The status and whereabouts of Russian defenseman Dmitri Vorobiev has been an ongoing question mark for Leaf Nation. The robust blue-liner was drafted by the Maple Leafs in the 5th round of the 2004 Entry Draft. Originally touted as a second round pick by scouts, Vorobiev stuck around until the 5th round largely due to weight concerns. But it’s gradually become clear that the Maple Leafs shrewdly gambled on the Togliatti native after an impressive couple of seasons with RSL side Lada. He’s now regarded as one of the best young power-play point-men in his league and he supplements his offensive skill with a solid, physical own-zone game. He’s ranked 5th in the team’s “Top Prospect List” on Hockey’s Future.com, behind Justin Pogge, Nik Kulemin, Jiri Tlusty and Anton Stralman. The lone but major problem being, however, that Vorobiev doesn’t appear to have any interest in embarking on a career overseas.
Vorobiev remains Leaf property, but seemingly in name only. The 22-year-old is contractually committed to two more seasons with Lada Togliatti having signed a four year deal prior to the 06/07 campaign; a deal which tripled his initial salary. Fortunately, the Leafs hold Vorobiev’s rights indefinitely due to the absence of a transfer agreement. There is currently no agreed-on date for when a team’s rights to players like Vorobiev will expire. According to Bill Meltzer, “the NHL and NHLPA have more or less agreed to overlook what’s written in the CBA at least until there’s a clear direction on what’s going to happen in terms of a new transfer agreement (or lack thereof).” So how are we to know just how long the Leafs will hold onto Vorobiev’s rights? Meltzer suggests any of these three scenarios could occur:
“1) The CBA is amended to include a provision for how long European draft picks’ rights can be retained
2) At the point the direction of the NHL’s transfer relationship with the KHL (and other European countries) is determined, a deadline could be set for NHL teams to sign their picks whose rights would have expired under the two-year window specified by the current CBA.
3) They could simply continue the status quo — which essentially readopts the old system in which NHL teams could hold European players’ rights more or less in perpetuity.”
The last scenario is obviously the preferred one in this case.
I should preface this blog with the caveat that fishing information out of Russia is at best tenuous and details of Vorobiev’s contract status remain ambiguous. But according to a European-based scout, the bottom line seems to be that from a personal standpoint, Vorobiev just isn’t interested in the North American game as it stands. He’s comfortably settled in with Lada, whom he’s belonged to for 7 years now. He’s steadily improving, his point totals growing as his career progresses. Vorobiev was originally described as a more of a defensive specialist who plays an awkward, but effective own-zone game. His offensive skills are now burgeoning and he has assumed a top four role on his team’s back-end. One might describe him as a more offensively-inclined Anton Volchenkov.
The only way Vorobiev could theoretically join the Leafs in the next few seasons would be to buy-out his own contract, similar to what Jonas Frogren did in order to cross the pond earlier this summer. With the way the league has come down hard on the Leafs’ actions in regards to Frogren, it wouldn’t be easy. It could probably be managed, however, if the desire was there on Vorobiev’s part. It’s not for a lack of trying on the Leafs’ end, who’ve kept in regular contact with Vorobiev and his agent.
A source heard during the World Championships that Vorobiev was thinking of extending his contract with Lada. With his role expanding and his name gaining more and more recognition, Vorobiev couldn’t be happier in his current situation. It would require a sudden 180 for Vorobiev to opt for change from his current, stable situation. He’s presently focused on helping his side Lada succeed as they transfer to the Kontinental Hockey League next season. When Vorobiev reaches the peak of his ascension over in Russia, perhaps he’ll look for a new challenge elsewhere. At which point, the Leafs may just be one of 20-odd clubs interested. A different avenue the Leafs could explore would be to offer Vorobiev a tentative contract that comes into effect upon the expiration of the defenseman’s contract with Lada, similar to the arrangement the team formed with now-Leaf Nik Kulemin. Again, the stimulus doesn’t appear to be there for Vorobiev.
The fact of the matter is that it takes relentless desire and overarching ambition for European players of Vorobiev’s ilk who must risk the possibility of lower salary (due to entry-level restrictions), demotion, and an often-tumultuous transition into a foreign setting in order to realize their NHL goal. Athletes such as Nik Kulemin, Alex Nikulin, and Nikita Filatov appear to have this drive. Many less ambitious and driven athletes would be tempted to settle for a comfortable and well-compensated home setting. And for some the NHL just isn’t the be-all end-all career objective. There is an interesting and unexpected result of league-wide parity, in that it has not only leveled the playing field amongst the rich and less-moneyed franchises domestically but also between the NHL and Europe. The NHL through its entry-level deal basically assumes that everyone wants to play here, even at the cost of a salary discount. I’m not saying that money is the one and only factor playing into the equation, but it warrants consideration and is definitely some food for thought.
Perhaps once Vorobiev reaches his prime in Russia and past the entry level age he will look for a new challenge overseas. The ship may be sailing for the ACC to be his port of arrival, and if I had to bet right now, it doesn’t look like he’s going to be on board.