NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 23: Benoit Pouliot #67 of the New York Rangers checks David Clarkson #71 of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at Madison Square Garden on December 23, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
It’s not time to sound the alarm, but the sense of urgency is heightened across Toronto.
The Leafs are still firmly in a playoff spot and, other than Detroit (who has three games in hand on the Leafs, but are also missing Zetterberg and, for the moment, Datsyuk), the 4+ point gap the Leafs have on everyone else is a much tougher hill to climb than it looks because of the “three point era” in the NHL. It’s extremely tough to make up ground at this stage of the season in this day and age.
WOW. What a turn of events in the Iginla sweepstakes. Mid-way through writing this piece, I paused to check for updates on Twitter and in an instant, Iginla had gone from a Bruin to a Penguin. Going back the other way to Calgary are college prospects Kenneth Agostino (20, LW), Ben Hanowski (22, LW), and Pittsburgh’s 2013 1st-round draft pick. From the outset, Feaster isn’t getting much credit for the return he’s getting but, it appears that Pittsburgh was Iginla’s call. Per Elliote Friedman:
Feaster said Iginla made the call on PIT. Added the draft choice is not conditional.
When faced with such a tectonic move, my first instinct is to take a breath and look at it from 30,000 feet – to try and take the broad level view. I asked myself, how does this change the competitive landscape of the East Conference? How does this move affect the Leafs? Who are the winners and losers of the trade? Will Iginila thrive under Dan Bylsma’s system? Where does Iginila fit in the line-up, and what of his role? At the surface level, the Pens’ active roster stays intact and get an infusion of leadership, class, skill, and toughness. Ray Shero is really going all-in here and the proposition of lining up Crosby and Iginla is a terrifying proposition, just ask Ryan Miller. In the coming days, I’m sure these questions will be addressed by the mainstream media and by members of the blogosphere.
This is a different kind of piece.
Before you read on, I submit this for your consideration:
For those of you who are unable to watch the video, it contains a segment from the Colbert Report, and it features a 13-minute montage of blatant Bostonian hypocrisy.
As I’m sure many Leaf fans were when they heard that Iginla was headed to Boston, I experienced some strong mixed-emotions. On the one hand, here you have a player who epitomizes class and leadership. On the other hand, he was headed to a hypocritical and dirty organization like Boston. If what Friedman said is true, then good on Jarome. Now, I am not privy to his decision-making process but I sure hope he considered the collective character of the organizations he was looking to join, along with, ultimately, the prospects of winning a Stanley Cup.
Iginla’s press conference is set for 10:30am (MT) and certainly lends itself to a tearful farewell. He has been the face of the franchise for the past 15 seasons and became the city’s beloved son. The loyalty he showed the Flames is quite remarkable, even despite the lack of talent and recent managerial gaffes. Adam Proteau, from The Hockey News, puts it best:
As the Jarome Iginla Flames Era ends, it should be noted there’s no classier player in the game than Calgary’s No. 12. The man is boo-proof.
In the end, Jarome Iginla deserved better than Boston, and I believe he made the right decision. As a hockey fan, I wish Jarome nothing but success and the best of luck in Pittsburgh.
Just a quick note on the Leafs.
Much has been made of the team’s relative success during the past 5 games (3-0-2) and many cited the home-and-home series with Boston as a test of sorts. Needless to say, the Leafs get more than a passing grade for their effort and surely surprised a lot of people. However, looking forward, I would argue that the next 6 games might be even more important than the past 5.
Including tonight’s bout against the Hurricanes (32pts -10th), the Leafs will face-off against the Senators (42 pts – 5th), Flyers (28 pts – 14th), and Devils (37 pts – 7th) once, and the Rangers (35 pts – 8th) twice. Essentially, 5 of the next 6 games will be against teams that are either in the race, or are within striking distance of the Leafs. Herein lies a crucial opportunity for the Leafs to expand their lead over lesser teams. If they can come out of the next 6 games with at least 8 points, for a total of 48 points, it sets them up nicely for the final 8 games of the season.
End of a long, strange day. Or is it start of another? College UFA D Dan DeKeyser could decide today (Thursday) which NHL team to sign with.
For a second consecutive article, Damien Cox, who seems to have a direct line into the Leafs front office,Â has reported the Leafs are not in the running for the services of Rick Nash. Nash apparently does not have the Leafs on his shortlist of teams after all.
Perhaps thatâ€™s the case for theÂ Maple Leafs when it comes toÂ Rick Nash, a player they once coveted. Nobody seems quite certain where the Columbus Blue Jackets sniper will end up if he is indeed traded this week, but the Leafs are convinced that if they ever were on Nashâ€™s short-list of teams for which he would waive his no-movement clause, they arenâ€™t now.
Just as you cross one name off the wanted list, Bob McKenzie has tossed a familiar name into the ring:
Hearing ANA’s Bobby Ryan is “available” again after being taken off trade market after Randy Carlyle’s Duck departure.
That doesn’t mean Bobby Ryan is sure to be moved. It does means ANA’s phone will be/has been ringing and they will be keenly listening.
During TSN’s regular “Insider Trading” segment last night, McKenzie, LeBrun and Dreger each had an opportunity to drop some information on us regarding Roberto Luongo and the Leafs. McKenzie also had a chance to clear the bogus rumors of Brian Burke being fired in the next little while, and not surprisingly, the site that started the rumor took it down immediately afterward. Anything to get page hits for a couple days I suppose.
It’s no secret that teams have begun kicking tires on Luongo, and two of the most noted on Insider Trading were the Panthers and the Leafs. Florida was a name many threw out there when the Luongo rumors first started, but that quickly turned into just the Leafs and Tampa Bay due to their insane need for goaltending.
Contrary to numerous but erroneous reports this morning that he had succumbed to his battle with lung cancer, Pat Burns is still alive at his home in Quebec with his family.
Apparently, Burns has even had a little fun with all of the reports, telling Bob McKenzie;
“Here we go again. They’re trying to kill me before I’m dead. I come to Quebec to spend some time with my family and they say I’m dead. I’m not dead, far (expletive) from it. They’ve had me dead since June. Tell them I’m alive. Set them straight.”
Flyers officially kick off July 1st festivities by acquiring Andrej Mezaros from the Lightning in exchange for a 2nd round pick. Rumors of Boston centre Marc Savard potentially heading out west to Calgary as well.
As for the Maple Leafs, they will have $10.5 million in cap space to play with today, though that figure does not include the possible removal of Kaberle’s $4.25 million via trade or Finger’s $3.5 million as a potential waiver candidate.
The Leafs have been linked to defenseman Dan Hamhuis, forwards Raffi Torres and Colby Armstrong, and will also kick the tires on sniper Ilya Kovalchuk. Darren Dreger believes the club will look at adding a 3rd line forward along with a defenseman to “stockpile for later deals”. Stay tuned to this blog for updates on signings throughout the day.
It was a quiet Day One at the 2010 NHL Draft for the Maple Leafs, but the team stepped up its game in a big way on Saturday afternoon. The club wheeled and dealed its way into the 2nd round of the draft and through some crafty maneuvering in the later rounds, managed to add seven new players into the organization.
The Leafs were able to significantly upgrade their depth up front, by grabbing six forwards to go with one defenseman. Surprisingly, Leafs’ Swedish scout Thommie Bergman had a big day, selecting three players from the Swedish leagues.
This involves the Leafs, as well as around the league.
TFP: The Los Angeles Kings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators are among the teams to have serious interest in Alexei Ponikarovsky. Various reports suggest the Leafs are looking for a first-round pick in exchange for Ponikarovsky, though it’s believed Burke is willing to accept a second-round pick and a top prospect.”
5:00 PM Update – Mueller, Roloson, Hamhuis, Voros/Lisin.
Keith Aulie has been injured indefinitely. Ryan Getzlaf will be a part of Team Canada. Brian Burke talks the favorite in the tournament, and the NHL has released its attendance records of this season. The numbers are shocking, read on to learn more of each of these brief news stories.
TSN’s Bob Mckenzie is reporting that the Maple Leafs have claimed forward Jaime Lundmark off waivers from the Calgary Flames. The 29 year old Lundmark was originally drafted 9th overall in 1999 by the New York Rangers. In 280 career NHL games, Jamie has recorded 39 goals and 57 assists. In 47 games with the Flames over the past 2 seasons, Lundmark has accumulated 12 goals and 25 points, while also earning 15 minutes of ice-time this season. In Lundmark, the Leafs will hope to reproduce the same waiver wire success they experienced with Dominic Moore, picking up a feisty two-way player with respectable offensive numbers at other levels.
Seems that shoulder injury is worse than first thought. He shuts it down for the year as per Bob McKenzie. Yes. This time it’s legit.
“Our team doctors have recommended this after a determined effort to rehab the injury without surgery. Having this done immediately is the right thing to do for the Leafs. I am truly sorry that I will not be able to represent my country at the Olympics,” said Komisarek in a statement.
Via TSN, Bob Mckenzie is reporting that the Maple Leafs have re-acquired its own 2010 2nd round draft pick from Chicago in exchange for its own 2011 3rd round pick and the 2011 2nd round pick recently acquired from Calgary as part of the Anton Stralman trade.
With this trade, the Maple Leafs now possess the necessary draft picks to tender an offer sheet to a restricted free agent, and Mckenize speculates that GM Brian Burke may choose to make a run at the still unsigned Boston sniper Phil Kessel. The Rangers’ centre Brandon Dubinsky and the Sabres’ winger Drew Stafford are the two other names that may interest the Maple Leafs.
Here are the compensation brackets for restricted free agents, via NHL.com:
Expect rumors to run rampant over the next few days!
Scouting service, McKeen’s Hockey Prospects released their 2009 Final Rankings, in conjunction with their 2009 Draft Guide which includes exclusive content and scouting reports on the top 90 draft eligible players. Patrick King, of Sportsnet familiarity talked about the draft in a Q and A session.
Following suit with the likes of the Redline Report and ISS, John Tavares was not listed at number one. NHL Central Scouting doesn’t release a consolidated rankings, ranks are broken down by North American and International, with Goaltenders ranked independant from Skaters.
Add International Scouting Services to the list of scouting organizations that are starting to put together the Matt Duchene bandwagon. In their latest rankings, following a the shocker from Redline report, ISS has followed suit and finally shuffled the top 2 of the draft. Unlike Redline, Tavares remains at #1, but ISS now has Duchene at #2 and Hedman at #3. Looks like the “Big Two” just became the “Big Three”.
Christian Hanson’s getting ready to make his NHL debut tonight against the Philadelphia Flyers. Tyler Bozak is pretty much signed, sealed and delivered. But according to multiple news outlets, Brian Burke’s just getting warmed up. Next on his list: Boston University’s Matt Gilroy and Northeastern University’s Brad Thiessen.
The Tyler Bozak “Sweepstakes” are nearly coming to an end and according to Bob Mckenzie, the talented young forward from the University of Denver may make his decision as early as today after much speculation that he was supposed to sign yesterday. Apparently, the 23 year old Regina, Saskatchewan native has narrowed down his list to 3 or 4 teams, with Toronto and Ottawa believed to be among the finalists.