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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.
I’ve been trading a few emails of late with some “non-sources” (I want to be very clear about that) employed by various media outlets in the Toronto area, to get their take on the rapidly-churning Maple Leafs’ rumour mill.
Although these folks are obviously not directly tied to anyone you would call a “source” affiliated with a team, their insight is often valuable as they are privy to more of the backroom chatter with those who are connected to the so-called “sources”.
For the second year in a row, Team Canada fell 2-1 to the Russians in yesterday’s gold medal game at the 2009 World Hockey Championships in Switzerland. Ilya Bryzgalov made 37 saves and the Russian defense managed for the most part to keep a prolific Canadian offense in check.
A quick look at the NHL standings reveals that with 11 games remaining, the Toronto Maple Leafs have not yet been mathematically eliminated from either the playoffs, or last place overall.
A numerical analysis reveals something even more interesting.Â Mathematically-speaking, the Maple Leafs are leading the race for the 6th overall pick in the draft.
It’s Draft Day 2009. Your Brian Burke. It’s the First Round and it is just announced that you are now on the clock.
Tavares, Hedman, Kane, MSP, Duchene, Cowen, Kadri have all been selected. The name Brayden Schenn is still up there and is who you plan on selecting, when all the sudden the phone rings….
As the 2008-09 season moves into the stretch drive, it is perhaps time for fans of teams most likely not making the playoffs to take a closer peek at the top prospects entering the draft.
Based on the Maple Leafs’ current spot in the standings with 13 games to go, it is safe to assume that this team will not finish last overall, and perhaps not even in the bottom five.Â Â A finish anywhere from 23rd to 26th overall (picking 5th to 8th) appears most likely at this point.
With that in mind, here is a modified version of the International Scouting Services (ISS) mid-season rankings which were released in February.Â Modified, in that the list is #3 – 12, as those are most likely the players that the Leafs will be looking at come the first round of the Entry Draft.
Many Leaf fans are counting down the days until Draft Day 2009, when we anticipate that our beloved Leafs will draft the franchise player that will lead the blue and white to the promise land. Some dream of John Tavares after witnessing him lead Team Canada to Gold at the WJC. Others dream about Evander Kane and his amazing hands or Brayden Schenn, who seems to be the Burke archetype we could all potentially revere. What you’re not typically finding on fans’ wish lists is a defenseman, which most aren’t prioritizing due to the fact we have, in some beliefs, eight NHL-caliber d-men. We do lack the type of star player upfront that can potentially compete for the league lead in goals. So I ask the question: is that really what this team needs right now?
Thanks to the lack of high end technology (No PVR damnit!) at home, I was faced with a tough decision tonight: CHL Top Prospects Skills Competition or Leafs vs. Preds. Sadly, I chose the Leaf game. Pretty much a low chance, slow pace snoozer from the get-go so I eventually started flipping back and forth to catch glimpses of the NHL’s next crop of exciting young stars showing off their various talents. Little metaphor there I suppose?
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 a season geared more towards the June entry draft than an April playoff berth, and with the World Junior Championships, the annual showcase of young hockey talent, stealing the hockey headlines as of late – at least in Canada, – it’s hard not to start dwelling on the possibilities available for the Maple Leafs when June rolls around. There are perhaps more imminent Leaf matters at hand in the form of the changes Brian Burke is expected to execute in the nearer few months, but I think I speak on behalf of all of Leaf Nation when I say last June, the time at which the Leafs welcomed Luke Schenn to the organization, was one of the most exciting and promising moments for the fanbase in recent times. This June will hopefully bring about similar jubilation and promise as Burke adds at least one more prized first-round pick to the fold of the re-building Maple Leafs.
Today was the long-awaited day when Brian Burke was finally introduced to the Toronto media and fanbase. Highlighted below are several important quotes that stuck out to me as I listened to Burke outline his plans for building a championship calibre team here in the capital of the Hockey Universe:
International Scouting Services recently released their November rankings for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, which can be viewed here: http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/10697/iss_top302009_prospects_november/
Sorry for the delay guys.Â We greatly appreciate the flood of great questions and comments, and are sorry to say we couldn’t get to them all. We’ve all been pretty busy lately for a variety of reasons, so without any further ado, let’s get started on the 1st ever Maple Leafs HotStove Hockey Panel Discussion.
Forming our panel for this session is Alec Brownscombe of Hockeybuzz and MLHS godfather, Gus Katsaros of Mckeen’s and MLHS fantasy expert, and myself, Alex Tran, an MLHS blogger.
Sorry folks, been really busy over the past week or so. Let’s talk some breaking news:
“The Maple Leafs will announce as early as this afternoon that rookie defenceman Luke Schenn will be staying in Toronto and will not be going back to the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Teams can hold on to rookies for nine games before their contract as junior-aged players kick in. The 18-year-old Schenn has played well enough to stick with the big team.
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