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Rewind a year to Ottawa, when interim GM Cliff Fletcher was preparing to make his last great splash. Trading up to secure hard hitting blueliner Luke Schenn, a player unto which the Leafs hoped to bank their revival, set in motion a summer of upheaval paving the way for Brian Burke to step in mid-season. For many the draft of 2008 marked an era of realization, that change was required and perhaps finally the Leafs were going to commit to a full scale rebuild based on the youth model in Pittsburgh.
According to Larry Brooks of the New York Post, it seems that Islander GM Garth Snow has turned on the tables on Brian Burke. Apparently, “the Islanders would be willing to deal, all right . . . willing to deal for Toronto’s seventh-overall selection, that is.” Quite the interesting twist.
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
While the majority of Leafs fans wrote the team off in the summer, it wasnâ€™t until the New Year that the teams first true season of rebuilding began the inevitable grind into early year golf tournaments.
For a full team-by-team breakdown of all playoffs clubs, sure bets and sleeper picks for your playoff pools, visit the McKeen’s Playoff Preview where the factors below have been outlined and pointed out in a team-by-team write up.
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.
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.”
JIMMY HAYES (# 10) â€“ RW
Birthdate: November 21, 1989
Hometown: Dorchester, Massachusetts
Size: 6-5, 210 lbs (team listing)
On the implications of the Leafs’ recent turnaround:
“I’m proud of the guys, they’re working their butts off and that’s important for a lot of reasons; a lot of what we’re trying to build here and reward our fans and our season ticket holders. They’re important wins, and I know people are saying we’re messing up our draft choice but we’ll happily accept that; we’ll take that trade off any time. If I could make a deal – I said this last week, and I’ll say it again today – if I could make a deal today that would put us in the playoffs, I would do it, as long as it was consistent with our long-term strategy. Those type of deals right now are not being presented, so I don’t think it’s going to change our approach.”
The current behind the scene situation on the Tomas Kaberle – Boston Bruins negotiations is intense, according to a solid source. It looks as though Burke’s playing poker here and waiting to see if Peter Chiarelli will call his bluff or up the ante.Â The Pronger to Boston rumours remain a distinct possibility but it’s said that the Kaberle to Bruins negotiations are on higher heat.
Turns out, there’s speculation that the trade between Anaheim and Pittsburgh was an inadvertent 3 way trade with the Maple Leafs. Thatâ€™s right, that big Ryan Whitney trade was for the bigger picture.
With the rebuild process in full effect, the Toronto Maple Leafs are exhausting every single possibility when it comes to bringing quality young players into their system. Dave Nonis, senior VP of hockey operations for the Leafs,Â was just on the Bill Watters show earlier this hour and discussed a number of topics pertaining to the Leafs, including the team’s approach to handling its NCAA prospects as well as possible interest in some of the prized college free agents.
As the Trade Deadline approaches, speculation will continue to grow over which Maple Leaf players may be moving on to new NHL destinations.
The following is my own personal estimation of the likelihood of regular roster players actually getting dealt, based upon contract status, playoff/stretch drive impact potential, comments from players/coaches/management, and of course the metaphorical smoke & fire (the amount of repetition in the rumour mills).Â Â To quote the great Chazz Palminteri, “a rumour’s not a rumour that doesn’t die”.
It is a number that all Leafs fans hold in such high regard. Â It means so much to so many.
With the trade deadline just weeks away, here are a few rumors that are doing more than just making the rounds.
Through 45 games the abject tandem of Toskala and Joseph has combined for the worst team save percentage in the NHL and by an ever increasing margin. Where .900 is seen as a barometer for average net minding in the modern game, the Blueshirted duo has managed just .886 between them. Subsequently the hard work put into making the Leafs sixth in shots against with a 28.3 per game average is being undone by a last line of defence that bares a startling resemblance to the Maginot line. Worse still the current status quo threatens to undermine the very rebuilding process Toronto are pinning their future on.
Random thoughts and opinions from (roughly) the halfway point of the season:
* Glad to see the mustache is back in style.Â Â In fact, when I was younger I grew a goatee just because everyone else was doing the ‘stache.Â Then the ’93 Canadiens all grew goatees during their Cup run, and it became a social mainstay.Â Â Yes, folks, it’s true: my hatred of the Habs has nothing to do with the Leafs, and everything to do with facial hair.
In October 2008, a reporter set the Barilkosphere into a tizzy with a certain writing. The intention was simple, a deliberately cruel finger pointing at Leafs Nation.
The backlash was tremendous, and it inspired Pension Plan Puppets to trigger a massive response to the piece. It shows the unifying force behind the internet, allowing fans the opportunity to voice dissent.
I know, youâ€™re worried about value for Vesa Toskala and Tomas Kaberle. Well, donâ€™t. Their recent performance(s) are killing their market value, right?
No. Market forces and low-ball offers may hinder dealing them now, but as the trade deadline approaches, true value is more likely for the Buds. And thatâ€™s good, because both players are underperforming.
Being in full evaluation/negotiation mode in fantasy leagues, posturing for position and propping up a sagging roster, it got me to thinking about reality-based trade evaluation, and how appraisals are distorted by current production .. or lack thereof.
Just six months ago many a grapevine was carrying rumor of NHL expansion while I lamented the integrity of a revenue bound salary cap. Even into the new season few had foreseen the sheer gravity of the global economic downturn and its impact on jobs, housing, businesses and every facet of life down to sport. Now as international markets stutter into a depression that many an analyst believe could change the face of modern capitalism forever, the NHL seems to remain steadfast in addressing itâ€™s minor successes as opposed to itâ€™s crippling and potentially devastating financial model.
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