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In part one of his 12 burning questions series, Derek Harmsworth takes a look at whether the Maple Leafs new captain can return to form.
January 31st will forever be a day that will have historical significance for the Toronto Maple Leafs franchise, and all its fans. Â How large of a significance it will have in the grand scheme of things has yet to be determined, but in many ways, it could be argued that it was the day the franchise turned the corner.
Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, ridiculed in some circles, heralded in others, after the way the Tomas Kaberle deal went down, has not been hiding in the shadows after his inability, or unwillingness, to trade the Czech born blue liner. Â Burke spoke to the media yesterday and made a variety of statements that should peak the interest of Leafs Nation.
As you all know, or may not know, Tomas Kaberle will remain a Toronto Maple Leafs. Whether he is still a Maple Leaf beyond this season is another question all together, and likely a long and awfully boring road. Regardless, here is Brian Burke’s statement:
The hockey club confirms this evening that Tomas Kaberle remains a Leaf. While a number of Clubs made offers to trade for Tomas, none of them reflected Tomas’s value to our team. I understand a period like this is stressful to the player, and we are pleased that there is a resolution, and we can all continue to prepare for the coming season.
Brian Burke stated this morning, “if these offers are all we get, he is staying put,” in regards to the Tomas Kaberle trade watch. It has put many fans on their heels as they await a trade, but it should be known that this statement could be nothing more than a trade tactic.
$12.99, 128 pages, no ads, all Leafs.
The Maple Street Press Maple Leafs Annual is back for it’s second edition, jam packed with even more Leafs coverage, analysis and inside access than the year before. Preorders will ship on August 17 and include a $5.00 shipping charge. Yes, Kaberle remained a Leaf by the final deadline, because apparently it was just SO out of the way for Burke to deal him at our convenience. It matters not, just read some of these highlights:
Detailed player by player scouting information, advanced statistics and innovative statistical graphics for the 2010-11 roster
An interview with GM Brian Burke on change and the outlook for 2010-11
A look at the controversial legacy of 1960s Leafs head coach Punch Imlach, with reflections from Leaf greats Johnny Bower, Red Kelly, Dick Duff, Larry Hillman & more
A position by position look at the 2010-11 Leafs roster
The inside scoop on the Leafs’ 2010 off-season additions, organizational philosophy and evaluation with Leafs Vice President of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin
A review of the 2010 draft with the perspective of Leafs head scout Dave Morrison
Statistical analysis of the importance of first round picks: can the Leafs go their own way?
Analysis of the Leafs’ cap situation with looks at the constitution of past Cup winners
A Nazem Kadri feature (including thoughts from Morrison and director of player development Jim Hughes) & list of the Leafs’ Top Prospects in Fall 2010 & Darkhorses
An interview with potential sixth round steal Jerry D’Amigo
- An in-depth look at the Marlies’ season that was and will be with thoughts from head coach Dallas Eakins, Poulin, Jay Rosehill and Tim Brent
- Projections for the Leafs offense and defense
- An in-depth, goalie-by-goalie scouting evaluation of Leaf netminders (Gustavsson, Giguere, Scrivens, Reimer, Rynnas) with The Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman
- Takes on how new media is changing coverage of the team with thoughts from MLSE social media strategist Jonathan Sinden
Ensure yourself a copy of the Maple Leafs Annual here. Take the jump for a full list of authors – the best of the best from across the Barilkosphere and beyond.
Since joining the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brian Burke has worked feverishly to distance the club from the atmosphere of mediocrity which pervaded during the years of mismanagement that came before.
While upgrading the playing staff and reducing the age demographic of the locker room are the two most apparent hallmarks Burke has placed upon the Leafs, his backstage upgrading of the administrative, coaching, scouting and medical departments have the potential to leave considerably longer legacies.
- If the TSN reports that Frolov could sign a 1 year deal comparable to that of Afinogenov last season ($800,000) are true, then why weren’t the Maple Leafs heavily involved in discussions with Frolov’s agent? He’s a big guy who can win some pucks, plays a well-rounded game and would fit perfectly in the top line left wing role at a bargain basement price. Remember a few weeks ago when I talked about a deteriorating market? This potential signing may just be the beginning.
- The Toronto Sun reports that the Maple Leafs’ Rookie tournament will take place at the John Labatt Centre in London from September 11th-14th this year.
- The Hockey News makes the case for the Maple Leafs as a surprise playoff team this coming season.
- On to the FanPosts. Andrew Edwards (AKA Crazyaces) proposes a solution for these ridiculous long-term contracts, while Michael Cuttell continues his preseason synopsis by evaluating the Leafs’ current forward group.
Leafs Preseason Synopsis Part 1Â – Defense and Goaltending
By: Michael Cuttell
With free agency cooling off and countless free-agent and team roster questions floating around, itâ€™s time for Leafs fans to look at what they have, what they can afford to lose , what they need, and what they can realistically get to fill those needs. This is a step by step speculative analysis of those questions.
Maybe it was indicative of how fragile the Leafs psyche had become after relinquishing such an unexpectedly high draft pick to the Bruins, or maybe it was just a reaction to the mid-summer boredom brought upon as the Kovalchuk saga stop-gaped the NHL trade wires, but the recent trade rumours surrounding Luke Schenn suggests a seismic shift has taken place in Leafs Nation with regards to the future and how to obtain long sought after success.
One that seems to have embraced a cap defiant means of rebuilding in an age of tank-to-win.
Great to see such an active group of readers. Here are a couple of FanPosts for your Friday afternoon reading enjoyment with today’s theme being youth, youth and more youth. Paul LeMay (B. Leaf) takes an in-depth look at the team’s organizational prospect depth while Chuck Johnson compares Nazem Kadri’s chances of making the NHL as a 2nd year player with those of previous high draft picks.
Just a month ago, the Chicago Blackhawks were the envy of the National Hockey League. Â Having finished off the Philadelphia Flyers in six games courtesy of a Patrick Kane overtime goal, the Hawks had climbed to the top of the mountain, and had risen out of what could once have been considered obscurity years earlier, to build a winning team, and break the Stanley Cup drought that loomed over the franchise for so long.
And while many general managers stood in jealousy and envy of Stan Bowman and his management team for the feat they had just accomplished, not one GM was going to envying Bowman in the days following.
For the Chicago Blackhawks, winning the Stanley Cup came at a price, and it was rather large.
Since they won the Stanley Cup, the Blackhawks have made many moves, tearing down their roster that brought them their once elusive championship. Â Fan favourites were shipped out in favour of draft picks and younger players, on cheaper contracts.
One of those trades involved Kris Versteeg, a trade Brian Burke was all too happy to accommodate.
A pair of MLHS readers have kindly submitted FanPosts for your reading enjoyment. Logan Macneil makes the case for converting Tomas Kaberle into a top six forward while Steve Hitchins previews some of the highly anticipated fisticuffs match-ups for the upcoming season. A big pat on the back for both these gentlemen for taking the time.
When Brian Burke added Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin to an established Leafs cast of Luke Schenn, Tomas Kaberle, Ian White and Jeff Finger it looked to all that the Toronto GM had built himself an enviable problem. A premium blueline, arguably one of the finest in the Eastern Conference, that also came with a premium price tag.
Of course, what began an enviable problem on paper quickly devolved into an actual problem when the new additions failed to mesh into a cohesive unit with defensive and special team frailties more apparent than those of an comparatively budget offense.
As much of the league takes a post-draft/free agent frenzy breather for the Canada Day and July 4th long weekend, I figure I’ll spark some discussion with a bit of educated speculation. In talking to a source over the past week it’s been suggested to me that Brian Burke has a Â deal or two on the table for scoring help involving a Leaf asset he’s struggling with the idea of parting with. It’s said at this time Burke is hoping desperation on the part of the involved GMs reduces the price on a few top six trade options as the off-season continues.
Okay, so my math may be a little off. Â It’s Canada Day weekend, there shouldn’t be any arithmetic. Â Unless, of course, you are an NHL general manager, than you better hope you have your math hat on. Â A quick note to say I hope our fellow Canadian readers, as well as our loyal readers situated the south had an enjoyable holiday weekend.
Now, let’s divulge into what has so far been a somewhat reserved free agency period, One timer style.
–The big news coming out of free agency this hour is this report out of the L.A. Times that indicate the Los Angeles Kings are quite far apart on signing Ilya Kovalchuk. While they may not be out of the running entirely, Helene Elliott suggests the prospects are quite dim. Â So where does Kovalchuk go? Â The Islanders reportedly seem to be the only team willing to offer him the term he is looking for (rumoured to be 10 million for at least 10 years) but are there other suitors? Â What about New Jersey? Â Toronto? Â One would think that although Burke would love to pull off the major move of free agency, the reasons Kings GM Dean Lombardi is balking about bringing in Kovy (term) is likely the same reasons Burkie has reservations.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun floated out over twitter last night the possibility of Leaf interest in winger Maxim Afinogenov. One’s initial reaction might be to dismiss the Russian enigma as the anti-Burke. Looking at the list of remaining UFAs, there are also a few scoring wingers that could be considered safer, comparable alternatives (i.e. Alexander Frolov). But in the salary capped hockey world we live in, where a player’s on-ice ability is ever tempered by his dollar value against the cap, Afinogenov’s services could actually comprise a niche market of sorts for clubs looking for a Plan B scoring option with fewer strings attached.
John Mitchell joins Nik Kulemin as the second Leaf to re-sign with the club today. Â After initially not being qualified by Toronto, Mitchell hit unrestricted free agency with an understanding that Brian Burke intended to offer him a new contract. Â The purpose of waiting was financially-driven as it allowed Toronto to save at the very least 250,000 on Mitchell because he was not qualified.
Considering we were hearing word of $3 million + demands from Nik Kulemin’s camp, this is pleasantly surprising. It gives Kulemin a deserved $800k raise and a couple of years to prove he deserves a bigger, long-term extension, and Brian Burke the chance to see if the 24-year-old’s late season production wasn’t just the result of a default increase in playing time. Come two off-seasons from now, when both sides re-evaluate where they stand, the Leafs will still own Kulemin’s rights as an RFA. There is little doubt the Leafs are paying the extra cash for potential, but it’s certainly worth it given Kulemin’s 24 and was Leafsâ€™ best forward offensively and defensively on several nights during the back half of the ’09-10 schedule. Patience has paid off for Burke and Nonis with a reasonable contract for the next two seasons. At the very least Kulemin will provide a responsible two-way presence with some offensive upside on the second or third line. Beyond that we’ll have to see where he can go in terms of production.
Trades are never won or lost when initially made, and tonight’s multi-player deal with Chicago is the very embodiment of that fact. Analyzing a deal that sent Kris Versteeg and Bill Sweatt to Toronto for Viktor Stalberg, Phillippe Paradis and Chris Didomenico involves a lot of subjective potential measurement. Â Making the task more difficult is that two teams often come together to execute a trade for very different reasons in a salary cap era.
This is your chance to rise above the rest as the most knowledgeable MLHS user outside of Alec Brownscombe and win the authentic new Leafs jersey in the process.
Here is how the contest will work:
Pick three signings (not including re-signings) you think Brian Burke will make this off-season and include a prediction for both the length and the salary figure of the contracts. List the salary per annum. Should the contract be front or back loaded, we will use the pro-rated cap hit figure as the correct salary (in any cases where the salary and cap hit differ, we will use the cap hit). The winner will be decided via a points-system:
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