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Brian Burke must have felt a lot like the eponymous Old Mother Hubbard when he first reached into the Leafs prospects cupboard. Of course, unlike the elderly dog-mistreating crone of the rhyme, Burke already knew what lay in stock prior to his arrival in Leafs country. In short: a few notable exceptions to a decade of draft property mismanagement.
Subsequently, the draft of 2009 looked to be a vital cornerstone in Brian Burkeâ€™s rebuild. The first chance for the Leafs to restock in a new, finally directed era.
It’s been a hot topic, and a touchy one at that for the better part of almost a year, since the day the trade was consummated. Â The Toronto Maple Leafs, toward the end of the pre-season, announced that they had traded two firsts and a second round pick to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Phil Kessel, a young American born sniper who the B’s were having issues resigning.
It was a steep price to pay, but you have to give to receive, and in Kessel the Leafs got a bona fide goal scorer who looks like he could be a perennial 30 goal scorer (more on that later.)
And yet some people have cast Kessel to fail, no matter what impact he has on the Leafs, attaching him forever to the trade that brought him here.
This past week, Bill Watters took that to the extreme, and took a piece of integrity written journalism and turned into something sensational and downright wrong, all in the name of making Phil Kessel look as bad as possible because he doesn’t agree with the trade.
Rough Friday night for Leaf fans, but that’s in the past now. Rounds 2-7 of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft kicks off today at 1pm ET on NHL Network. The Maple Leafs are slated pick once in the 3rd round (62nd), once in the 4th round (112th), twice in the 5th round (122nd and 144th) and twice in the 7th round (182nd and 202nd).
Rumors are circulating that the Leafs will attempt to trade into the 2nd round if the price is reasonable.
This live blog will be updated with thoughts and pick analysis throughout the afternoon.
It may seem uncharacteristic of Â Brian Burke, historically a headline maker at the Entry Draft, to sit essentially idle on the hockey world’s biggest stage. Important to remember is that the big man can be patient when he needs to be. The Anaheim and Calgary deals of last February, when Burke waited until certain pressure points reached a head, were both examples of Burke’s willingness to sit back until the time was right to pull the trigger – despite all the temptations to hit the panic button as his team sat in the Eastern Conference basement with no first round pick to look forward to.
It’s around 2PM eastern time, meaning National Hockey League GM’s are likely getting ready to juggle their BlackBerry’s while getting set to sit down for lunch at a local Los Angeles hot spot. Â With the many fantastic views and atmosphere, it may be the last relaxing moment of the day for these GM’s.
And most wouldn’t have it any other way.
The word out of Los Angeles today remains that Brian Burke has yet to receive an acceptable offer for Tomas Kaberle. While talks are said to be heating up according to Pierre LeBrun’s twitter (rumoured to involve Buffalo, Boston and Los Angeles), Burke appears to be tempering expectations and maintaining the possibility that Kaberle remains a Leaf come Saturday. It could well be that Burke quietly slips out of Los Angeles with only with only six third – seventh round picks to his name. TSN has released a sleeper list with some names Leafs fans can keep an eye on for Saturday:
The Toronto Star continues to shine a light on the Kaberle front. According to Brian Burke, he has “four concrete offers” on the table and seems to be rather confident he can land a first round pick. That said, the Toronto Sun suggest that of the six teams interested in Kaberle’s services, the Ducks have expressed the strongest interest.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Dion Phaneuf, profiled by Nikhil Daljeet:
The arrival of Dion Phaneuf in Toronto this year will undoubtedly be remembered as a significant moment in the annals of Maple Leafs history, for better or for worse.Â The trade that Brian Burke engineered for the newest Leafs captain has been generally heralded as a wise maneuver for his Toronto club.Â However, this transaction occurred after a full 2008-2009 season that saw a noticeable decrease in offensive output from Phaneuf (Flames management insisted it was due to injury).Â Moreover, the 2009-2010 season gave way to a floundering Calgary team that was in severe need of a major shakeup and Flames GM Sutter did exactly that on January 31st.
It’s not every day the Maple Leafs name a new captain. In fact, it’s not every decade. Sundin was named in 1997, 13 years prior to the Leafs appointment of Phaneuf. And with the announcement being made in front of a room of roughly 100 media personnel, the message was relayed to the world using every different angle imaginable.
Instead of weighing the pros and cons, balancing the collective good choices of Burke and Wilson against the bad, MLHS is going to bring you into the event. Thousands of writers have provided their opinion but little time has been spent enabling the reader to form their own. So please, if you will, grab your notepad and follow us past the security and the media media check-in, and into the press conference that will see Dion Phaneuf named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Next up we feature Carl Gunnarsson, profiled by PPP:
“The Summary: It has become almost comical to hear Brian Burke try to defend JFJ at every turn. I wonder if Burke took the parody twitter account to heart and feels obligated to counteract the impression that he thought that JFJ was ‘retarded’ when the opportunity arises. He does it whenever Tomas Kaberle’s limited no-trade clause is used and he will probably start doing it whenever Carl Gunnarsson is mentioned. I wonder if JFJ might have had a successful career with the Leafs if he had just been in charge of scouting.
At an afternoon press conference at Real Sports Bar & Grill, the Toronto Maple Leafs made official the worst kept secret in the NHL by naming Dion Phaneuf the 18th captain in the club’s long and storied history (22nd if you count the St.Pats and the Arenas).
The Maple Leafs also unveiled the team’s new jersey design.Â The new jerseys return the horizontal white stripes to the bottom of the sweater, in homage to past tradition.Â For more on the new designs, please see Alec’s earlier post regarding the jerseys.
SeeÂ the full list ofÂ TML captains after the jump.
According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.com, the Toronto Maple Leafs will not be pursuing soon-to-be unrestricted free agent sniper Iyla Kovalchuk. LeBrun cites a quote from Leaf GM Brian Burke stating that the club would not “be involved in that race”. Although this could theoretically be a ploy to avoid tampering charges, Burke has always been very up front about his intentions and could’ve easily either skipped the question or answered with a generic “we will explore every possibility to improve our club.” Thus, I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that Kovalchuk does not end up in a Maple Leaf uniform next season.
In the same article, LeBrun provides a brief update on the Kaberle trade talks, explaining that the number of inquiring teams has reached the double digits, though no serious offer has been made of yet. The only other high end puckmoving defenseman available is unrestricted free agent Sergei Gonchar, though rumors of his demand for a 3 year contract at age 36 could scare off potential suitors.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Jonas Gustavsson, profiled by Justin Goldman.
The Summary: Back with another guest post is The Goalie Guild’s Justin Goldman. Jonas Gustavsson’s choice of the Toronto Maple Leafs last summer ended a long period of courtship from a number of NHL teams. The world’s best goaltender outside of the NHL’s decision to join the Leafs gave the team a goalie of the future. His season was, to say the least, a roller coaster ride that ended with some decent numbers. Brian Burke has built a strong support system for the young Swede and seems to have a bright future ahead of him.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Mikhail Grabovski, profiled by Garrett Bauman.
Talented albeit inconsistent, Grabovski has held down the second-line centre job in Toronto for two seasons, with mixed results.Â A flashy player who scored 20 goals in his rookie season, Grabovski’s tenure in Toronto has featured as many moments of offensive brilliance as head-scratching decisions (both on the ice and off).
Listed at 5’11″ and a generous 182 lbs, the feisty 26 year-old Belarussian plays a much more aggressive style than his size would indicate. Although he has done a passable job in the #2 centre role, questions remain as to whether he fits GM Brian Burke’s long-term vision of the club. Under contract for two more years, the enigmatic forward may find himself on the trading block should a top centre become available (via trade or FA) to the Maple Leafs.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Jean-Sebastien Giguere, profiled by PPP Guest Justin Goldman.
“The Summary: Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s arrival in Toronto represented a lot of things. First and foremost, it represented the moment when, after 100+ days of atrocious goaltending, Brian Burke was finally able to change the Leafs’ fortunes. It represented the first time since the lockout that the Leafs’ defencemen and forwards could be confident that on any given night they were playing in front of an NHL calibre goalie. And it also showed the extent to which Brian Burke was working to put the support network in place to maximize Jonas Gustavsson’s potential. So how do you evaluate a goalie? Well, you ask an expert to offer his thoughts.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Garnet Exelby, profiled by Alex Tran.
The Summary: Exelby came to Toronto from Atlanta as part of the Pavel Kubina trade last summer, when Brian Burke needed to clear cap space for the free agency season. Essentially viewed as a salary dump with one year left on his contract, Exelby was given a shot to show Leafs’ management that he could contribute to the team as a useful third pairing defender. But when you’re ranked 6th on the defensive depth chart for the 2nd worst defensive team in the NHL, you can imagine expectations were already pretty low.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11. Today we feature Jeff Finger, profiled by Alec Brownscombe.
A former 1999 eighth round pick, Jeff Finger came to the Leafs via unrestricted free agency as a 29-year-old who was skating in the ECHL the last time Toronto made the playoffs. After his first steady NHL season with Colorado in ’07-08, Cliff Fletcher rolled the dice on a $3 million-per-year raise for the journeyman that will cost the Leafs 3.5 million against the cap annually until 2012. Fletcher obviously thought there was a lot more to come from Finger in his late development as a two-way defenceman, but let’s just say on that fateful day in July, 2008, the optics weren’t good.
In 2005, the NHL was returning to work after a year long lockout, a bitter battle between players and owners over cost certainty. Â The entry draft in June of 2005 was really the beginning of a new era in hockey, and a new era for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who drafted Sidney Crosby first overall, a move that would change their fortunes forever.
Drafted second that year was Bobby Ryan. Â A big bodied power forward with tremendous skill, I had the chance to watch Ryan in person blaze up and down the ice for the Owen Sound Attack. Â One look at Ryan moving swiftly between checkers, puck on a string as he bobbed and weaved his way into a prime scoring area, and it was clear.
This dude was one heck of a consolation prize.
And the GM who was afforded that consolation prize, as you are all aware, was one Brian Burke.
Weâ€™ve partnered up with Pension Plan Puppets to bring to you a Player Review series, where we will be evaluating and grading the 2009-10 season for every Leaf who featured in a significant number of games for the Blue and White last season, with an eye towards 2010-11.Today we feature Luca Caputi, profiled by Garrett Bauman.
One of the Penguins’ highest-ranked prospects, 21-year old Toronto native Luca Caputi was acquired by the Maple Leafs on the eve of the Trade Deadline in exchange for long-serving winger Alexei Ponikarovsky.
Caputi’s acquisition was another in a long line of moves by GM Brian Burke designed to (a) clean house, and (b) add young players with upside who can contribute immediately.
To Caputi’s credit, the early returns have been positive the 6’3, 200lb winger can develop into a regular contributor, although with only 28 NHL games under his belt (19 with the Maple Leafs), it is difficult to gauge on what his ultimate role, or impact, will be. The 2010-11 season should provide a crucial indication of his NHL future.
Though the news in Leaf Nation has been relatively quiet of late, there have been a few intriguing storylines making the rounds. Joel Champagne will re-enter the draft, Nik Kulemin and the Maple Leafs have hit a contract impasse, Tomas Kaberle is reportedly gathering interest from a number of teams, and a member of the Toronto media raised a few eyebrows with a blog post regarding the relationship between Dion Phaneuf and Ron Wilson.
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